5 Reasons Your Company Stories Aren’t Growing Your Business (and What You Can Do About It)

You already believe in the power of story. You’ve seen how it can sell, persuade, compel, inspire—even better than a well-crafted argument. But are your stories helping you build your business?
 
If not, here are some possible reasons—and tips on what you can do about it:

You aren't being strategic about what stories you tell

Maybe you have a great patient story, for example, but it’s for a service line that isn’t a current area of strategic focus. Or maybe you have a story for your employees that doesn’t reinforce your key strategies, vision, or values. Prudent use of marketing dollars requires a direct link between the stories you’re telling and your business goals.
 
Practical tips:

  1. To create stories that grow your business, create a table and list all your core messages and strategies—then beside each list a high-level story idea that directly links back to each. For example, if you want to convey your commitment to quality, look for an area in your organization where your quality is impressive.
  2. Use this list to scout stories and to identify specific customers, employees, or events that fit your story idea. Maybe it’s the journey of an internal team to improve a process, or a client story about how the quality initiative impacted them.
  3. Track progress on your table and do a year-end review to see what worked—and where you want to improve.

You don’t have a story scout

Before a story is told, it has to be found. Most companies don’t have a person devoted to this important excavational work—and, very often, people in the midst of a good story don’t even realize it is one. In health care, we see this all the time. This sacred interchange between patient and physician is just what the physician does. She does not see it as noteworthy. Someone with fresh eyes has to awaken this mindset in an organization, teach its teams how to recognize a good story, and provide a way to get it from the front lines to your storytellers.
 
Practical tips:

  1. Assign the task of “story scout” to one of your in-house marketing or communication professionals, and give them the goal of creating the plan (above) and reporting on its progress each month.
  2. Make a list of possible story ideas and share them with your front-line people, to help them think like a story scout.
  3. Make it easy to submit story ideas—and offer some small reward for ones that are published.

You aren’t using the right medium

Video is the most visually rich way to deliver a story. It takes the words from the page and brings them to life with motion, sound, and images—giving the viewer’s brain a rich experience. We know that the addition of motion alerts the human brain, and this is activated in video in ways that text and still images cannot compete with.
 
Takeaway:

  1. If budget is a concern, set aside some of your communication and marketing budget for video production—even if it means shifting resources from other good projects. Today’s consumer demands it.
  2. Shop for a video package rather than a single video. You can save thousands of dollars by shooting several videos over a day or two—rather than doing them one at a time. Videographers often require a half-day or even one-day minimum for a shoot, and by batching projects you can save money.

You don’t have an expert storyteller

A story can be inherently good, but tell it poorly, and it will not do the work of conveying the message you want. Storytelling is an art that requires experts who have devoted their careers to it, so finding the right talent to do this is imperative. Not all writers are storytellers. Not all video editors are storytellers. A storyteller can use different tools, but good ones understand the arc of an effective story and know how to deliver it in their medium.
 
Takeaway:

  1. Identify talent within or outside of your organization. The best way to judge this is to see their work—if the story keeps your interest and produces the desired emotional response, it’s been done by a storyteller you can trust.
  2. Engage them for one trial assignment, to see if their process and product works for you.
  3. Have them do a pre-shoot phone interview with the person they’ll be interviewing on-camera, to be sure the story is solid.
  4. Be clear on your goals, budget, and timeframe—before you start the job.

You aren’t getting the story to the right people

All too often, a video is produced and put up on your website—and it is left to chance whether the right people will see it. To get the most for your investment, look for ways to repurpose it. How many social media outlets can you use it on? Are there other areas of your website—like recruiting—that could use it? Are there events, staff meetings, or retreats for employees, board members, or customers where it could be shown? There are multiple tools and methods to help you with the digital promotion of a video, as well, so if you don’t have the expertise in-house to help with this, hire someone who does. It will pay off in increased traffic.
 
Takeaway:

  1. When your video story is done, don’t call the project done until you make and execute a plan to get it in front of the right people.
  2. Make a list of every social media channel you have that you could post your video on.
  3. Make a list of events where the video could be shown. Consider employee forums, departmental meetings, employee events, orientation, board meetings, and fund-raising events.
  4. Review your website to see if the video can be used on multiple pages. For example, a video about quality could be on a recruiting page, an "about us" page, a quality page, and a home page.
  5. Work with an expert—in-house or outside—who can help you create digital strategies to improve traffic to your videos.
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