How well do you know your startup’s story?
How to master the art of storytelling in your startup to land new clients
If you’re part of a growing startup you’re probably familiar with the challenges of wearing multiple hats, meeting deadlines, proving ROI, getting the funding to grow.
We’re all used to getting things done as fast as possible. There’s always a new deadline and the idea of working with MVPs across all teams is common. Marketing is focusing on the fastest return on investment, salespeople are looking for the warmest leads in the pipeline while creativity and branding end up as a luxury that you never seem to have the time (or budget) to focus on.
Not all roles are created equal
Working in social media and content marketing through the years has taught me that storytelling, content, and brand messaging are not always receiving the attention they deserve in a startup environment.
In a fast-paced world where you focus more on the short-term results rather than the long journey, my tasks don’t necessarily fit in the priorities.
New follows, increased engagement and traffic or blog subscribers sound too trivial. (Or at least that’s my own past experience)
You don’t seal a deal through social and the blog is just a side project for an intern to show how awesome we are.
Do these sound familiar?
What startups fail to recognise, especially at an early stage, is that their story can open doors to exciting opportunities.
“Purposeful storytelling isn’t show business, it’s good business.” — Peter Guber
Why storytelling matters
You may have a broad idea of the reason you’ve started your business. You may even have your brand guidelines ready. But these are not enough if you don’t bring all the elements together.
Storytelling makes you answer the questions you may not have thought of.
You want to make sure that everyone on your team is aware of your startup’s story to create a consistent messaging. You never know where a new opportunity may show up.
Your story reflects your:
- social presence
- internal comms
- external comms
- sales pitches
- investing opportunities
Whether it’s a new PR exposure, an interesting partnership, a business pitch all these still require from you to master your story.
You need to prove to yourself, your team, your partners, your investors, your audience that you’re well aware of what makes you stand out.
Storytelling can make business development less awkward, your hiring process more interesting, and all new opportunities more exciting.
It can help your team feel more confident about turning into your best advocates.
It can help your marketing team build a strategy that revolves around your key values, goals and personas.
It can help your sales team improve their pitches and thus, land more clients.
It can help your founders bring all the pieces together to win new deals simply by proving how their startup is ahead of the curve.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” — Robert McKee
What do we mean by storytelling
There’s a misconception about storytelling that it’s simply a new way to talk about content writing or branding. But in fact, it can go way beyond these two.
Storytelling can go across all areas of your business. After all, everyone in your team should know your startup’s story.
By story we mean:
- how you’ve started
- why you believe in what you’re doing
- your values
- your team culture
- the problem you’re trying to solve
- how you differ from your competitors
- how you’ll approach your target audience
- the opportunities you want to explore
- your short and long-term plans
- your brand guidelines (tone of voice, design, messaging, mission statement)
Don’t worry, you don’t need to have an answer to all of these once you start, but you need to be aware of the different elements that make your story.
If you manage to start answering these questions early then you’re ready to convince new team members, partners, investors to believe in your plan.
Why is storytelling so hard then?
If storytelling is important, why is it disregarded?
There are many reasons that startups tend to ignore storytelling:
- Inability to understand its importance
- Lack of patience to commit to its craft
- Attention span among various projects and tasks
- Lack of interest
It seems that there are always more urgent tasks among the teams. Maybe the problem is that we see it as a big and time-consuming process when we can just get started step-by-step.
How to start telling your startup’s story
- Get the team together. Start bringing the teams together more often. Your story should be a collaborative work between different people and teams. Treat it as a work in progress.
- Everyone should know your story. Once you have an idea of what your story should include, make sure that everyone in your team is aware of it. You don’t need to impose it, but it can be part of your daily routine and culture. You want your employees to be excited about your startup’s story and not just to see it as another obligation they need to know of.
- Hire the right people to help you master your story. It’s always useful to bring help in brand, content marketing, social media, design, PR. You can’t rely on a ‘storyteller’ to handle everything but you’d rather need an understanding of the different elements of successful storytelling. This can actually be the biggest challenge for a startup. It’s usually too late when you realise that you need help in these areas.
- Be patient and consistent. You can’t just create a story and let it stay in a document. You need to start narrating it in the most appropriate conversations. You want to make it come naturally as part of who you are as a business.
- Align your storytelling across all your activities. Your story should be aligned with all your activities (online, offline, advertising, copywriting, design, website). You want to prove that you’re mastering to discover new opportunities.
It’s easier than you think to embrace the power of storytelling. All you need is a shift in your perspective and the dedication to build it.
You’ll be surprised how it will help you while scaling up.