The Wrong Way to Create a Business Story for Your Brand

Business Storytelling – how not to do it

Sugar and spice and everything nice.

Nor is it about happy endings. 

Well, not always.

It’s about the struggle.

And the setbacks.

Sure, good stuff happens, such as learnings and breakthroughs.

And if you hang in there long enough, you may score some big wins.

But the point is this:

Whether you write for your website, blog or LinkedIn, tell a good yarn, will ya?

The core of your story will revolve around two character archetypes:

  1. Protagonists
  2. Antagonists

For example, imagine the story of a start-up called Genesis+, whose CEO had to persuade Wall Street bankers to invest in the company. 

He could take the traditional approach, wheel out his slide show, and tell them that Genesis+ has developed a chemical compound that prevents strokes.  

He could show them the size of the market, the business plan, the organisational chart, and so on. 

The bankers would nod politely and stifle yawns while thinking of all the other companies better positioned than Genesis+.

Alternatively, the CEO could turn the pitch into a story, starting with him, the protagonist (the hero).  He could then talk about his nearest and dearest mother, who died of a stroke. 

This brings me to the first antagonist.  It’s another mother in the form of Mother Nature.  Our hero (the CEO) sets about reducing the incidence of strokes and related conditions.  

The story might unfold like this: In his grief, he realises that if there had been some chemical indication of vascular disease, his mother’s death could have been prevented. His company discovers a protein in the blood just before strokes and develops an easy-to-administer, low-cost test.

Enter the second antagonist, the FDA. The approval process is fraught with risk and the FDA turns down the first application.  Another setback.  

But new research reveals that the test performs even better than anyone had expected, so the agency approved a second application. 

Meanwhile, Genesis+ is running out of money, and a key partner – the third antagonist – quits and starts his own company to do the same thing. 

Now Genesis+ is in a fight to the death patent race.

Do you see what’s happening here?  

Our hero is showcasing his antagonists because it creates suspense. The tension between heroes and antagonists turns a ho-hum story into something enthralling.

Back to the story…

The protagonist has raised the idea in the bankers’ heads that the story might not end happily. By now, he has them on the edges of their seats, and he says, 

“We won the race, got the patent, poised to go public and save a quarter-million lives a year.”  As you might imagine, the bankers showered him with money.

So, there you have it.

Harness imagination, combine it with solid story writing techniques, and get people to rise to their feet amid thunderous applause instead of yawning and ignoring you.

Need help?  Contact me on LinkedIn.

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