How stories influence the decision-making process
Research shows that emotions play a large role in decision-making. Although we might think we are rational beings who make decisions based on facts and figures, our emotions play a big role in our decisions. In fact, people who have experienced brain injuries to the part of their brain that regulates emotions, often have difficulty making decisions. This fact has led brain researchers to believe that emotions influence our decisions. For this reason, it’s important to create an emotional connection with potential customers by developing compelling stories.
How to create a great business story
When developing a good story, remember that to stand in the shoes of your prospective customers. To achieve this aim, you will want to position the customer as the hero of your story. For example, you can tell a story of how a customer solved a problem by using your product or service. Case studies (also known as success stories) are an excellent way to make the customer the hero by solving their challenge using your products or services.
For example, a manufacturing company might have a challenge with its quality control process. In searching for a solution it approaches an automation company to provide a solution. In the end, the manufacturing company and the automation company work together to solve the problem (by applying the knowledge and equipment of the automation company, of course). In this case, the automation solution provider can tell the story from the customer’s perspective and position the customer as the hero. This is one of the keys to business storytelling.
Elements of a business success story
A typical business success story will consist of three elements: the problem, solution and results. In the problem section, you outline the challenge that the customer faced and its implications. The problem could be causing the business or person to lose money, waste time, be less efficient, etc.
In the solution section, you outline the process of how the problem was solved. For a business-to-business success story, this will often be a collaborative process in which the customer and supplier work together to create the optimal solution.
In the results part of your success story, you describe the outcome of the solution. In our manufacturing example, you could explain how the solution reduced quality control problems. If you can, show the numbers behind the results. For example, the new automation solution reduced product defects by 85%.
Success stories can also work in a business-to-consumer context as well. While it might not work for a simple consumer product, such as clothing, you can apply storytelling techniques to a range of consumer products and services. For example, a restaurant that caters to large events can create a success story of how it hosted a large event, such as a wedding or milestone birthday. As outlined above, you could explain the problem, solution and results in your success story.
For more information on business case studies and success stories, see Writing a Business Case Study That Builds Your Credibility.
Get your story out where it will be seen and shared
While it’s great to use business storytelling to present your brand story, you need to get your story in front of people. This means having a content marketing strategy getting your content in front of readers or viewers. Part of this strategy could include social media where you share your story with relevant audiences.
If you deliver speeches or presentations for your business, read Storytelling to Empower Your Speeches and Presentations.