Worksheet for Telling Your Business Story
Every business story is different so we can’t write it for you, but this business story worksheet will help you put together the pieces that are critical to your storytelling.
1. What’s Your Theme?
Check your business plan. Read over your mission or vision statement. What’s the overall thing you’re working on or want to be known for?
2. Think of examples that support this theme
What work have you done to support your theme? What is your business involved in? Who are the people it impacts? Telling the story of how you help can be an extraordinary way to get noticed.
3. Isolate how you are helping
Your business’ story is not “We are awesome. We sell widgets and our widgets are better than anyone else’s.” That’s not a story. That’s bragging. A more effective way to tell your story is by sharing why selling widgets matters. Who it is helping? Do your widgets help people feel good about themselves? Do your widgets change lives (even in small ways)? List below specific ways you help and who you assist.
4. Contact those you’re helping and talk about their story
Take the list of those you’ve helped and ask each person if you can share their experiences. Explain what’s in it for them and how they’ll be assisting others by sharing. Interview them using the following prompts (put them in your own words and tailor them to your theme):
- Tell me how things were for you before you discovered or used _________ <insert your widget or widget service that solved their problem or struggle>. What did they believe and what was life like at that time? Paint the picture for your audience.
- What were you struggling with? <Every story needs a good challenge.>
- How did you overcome __________? Find out what made a difference. What was their turning point?
- What are you working on now? Or what are you most excited about in the future? This helps wrap up the story in a feel-good way.
5. Select a medium (or multiple ones) for your story
Decide how you will tell the story. Possible format(s) include:
- Newsletter article
- Website copy
6. Create a story with a great hook
No matter what medium you select, you need a great hook. Effective hooks begin with conflict, contrast, or contradiction.
A conflict hook jumps right into the meat of the problem, painting a portrait of the struggle and creating tension. Using a conflict people can identify with is powerful but don’t forget to talk about the hero/heroine so your audience connects to their struggle immediately. A tightrope without a tightrope walker is not an interesting story.
A contrast hook paints a picture using opposites, like “the beauty queen who hated her face.” Or like Dickens’ beginning in the Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…”
A contradiction hook grabs attention by going against expectations. “No one could’ve predicted that Stacy, voted ‘most likely to succeed’ less than a decade ago was living on food stamps.”
Use one of these techniques and people will be compelled to listen (or read) on.
7. Show how you helped
You are not the hero of your business story. Your customers are. You are the wise guru who revealed to them that they had what it took to realize their dreams all along. You simply gave them the tools or service to do so.
How did you help them solve a problem and get what they wanted?
8. Satisfy your audience with a good ending
Every good business story needs a satisfying ending with a look to the future.
What do you want people to focus on? What are you working on that ties into your customers’ needs?
Remember, your business story is not a few sentences long or just a paragraph on your website. It’s something you are dedicated and committed to. You will tell it in many ways, and it should influence every part of your marketing and communication.