We don’t typically think of storytelling as a professional discipline, but Hollywood producer Peter Guber thinks we should. In his new book Tell to Win, Guber examines the way people use stories to do business.
As a professional ghost blogger offering not only blog writing services but also training in corporate blog writing, I realized immediately that what Guber calls a "purposeful story" is an absolutely ideal vehicle for blogs.
A purposeful story, explains the author, might be anything from a joke you tell to make someone laugh to a story about someone who had a heart attack (to scare the listener into taking better care of her health). In salesmanship, he adds, the goal of your story must be to show what is in it for the listeners – the audience must win.
One Journalism 101 lesson is to "put a face" to an issue, beginning each article with a human example, in other words, a story. In business blog writing that might be a customer testimonial, an incident from the news, or even a tale out of folklore. The point, I stress when offering business blogging help, is to make what you do, what you sell, and what you know real to blog readers.
An SEO marketing blog might be meant to "win search", but once online searchers have arrived, what needs winning is their "hearts", and blog content writers can achieve that with storytelling. A realtor’s blog might tell how Sam and Susie improved curb appeal by planting tulips at the entryway to their home; a dry cleaning blog might tell of a decades-old wedding dress restored for a granddaughter to wear.
When asked by a reporter how someone in sales and marketing can turn a garden-variety sales pitch into a purposeful story, Guber’s answer was "It’s so simple, it’s embarrassing, and yet a lot of people overlook the basics." You, the storyteller, he says, must first know what your own intention is and be transparent about it in order to establish trust.
Often corporate blogging clients get too hung up on company branding and corporate identity, when in fact, corprate blog writing needs to tell the story of the owners (Why did you choose to do what you do? What are you most passionate about in delivering your service to customers and clients? What are you trying to add to your industry?), plus stories about customers.
Stories in blogs are stories about people. And, funny thing that’s as true today as ever – people want to do business with people.