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How To Write a Great Story for Your Business or Initiative

Updated: Mar 13


Stories are the best tool I know for communicating your business' or initiative's values — but why place so much importance on values?


Well, if you know me at all, you've probably heard me say that unless you're working in a utility industry (think: water, electricity, plumbing, etc) or a monopoly, you're going to have to connect with your audience in an emotion-led way.


Think of the businesses that you personally feel strongly connected to? Is it a rational feeling or an emotional feeling? The likelihood is you answered the latter. Because connections and feeling are two sides of the same coin.


I encourage all my clients to aspire to create the same levels of connection with their clients or customers. Because the pay-off can be huge.


Look at the following list of words and choose just one that illustrates your business' values. (Remember, you can only choose one of the following words.)


  • Family

  • Freedom

  • Joy

  • Love

  • Success

  • Vision.


There are certain business values that carry a lot of emotional weight, and the above words capture those values. Now that you have chosen one word, I want you to write down on a piece of paper the following sentence:


"At (your business name), we believe in (your one emotionally-charged word here) because (the reason why you chose this word)."


For instance, you might write:


"At Freedom Camping Gear, we believe in freedom because the soul-soaring experience of feeling truly free that comes from camping is something that shouldn't be denied to anybody."


With your business value (as captured by our one emotionally-charged word) in hand, the next step is to understand what makes a great story. This is where I need to point you to an accompanying article I've written that explains the formula for a great story. I encourage you to read it now. Go. I'll be waiting for when you get back.


In summary, what makes a great story is the following formula:


  • A relateable character.

  • A journey that they go on.

  • An obstacle or surprise that they encounter.

  • An experience that they learn from.


To write your business story, you just need to use this story formula, but start with the end of the story and work backwards. Let me develop this thought a little more so you can see what I mean:


If your one-word business value sentence was:


"At Freedom Camping Gear, we believe in freedom because the soul-soaring experience of feeling truly free that comes from camping is something that shouldn't be denied to anybody."


Then you need to find a story that uses the story formula and ends with the above sentence.


Here's what I came up with:


"One of our early customers — his name was Andy — he used to work in a day job he hated. He was a great guy, but he was obviously not treated well by his employer, and didn't enjoy his 9-5. (We've established Andy as our relateable character.)


"He would always come into our store and look around, but he never bought any gear. One day, I couldn't help myself, I walked up to him and asked him how he was going. He told me his story and how he'd always wanted to go camping and get out into the great outdoors, but never knew where to start. (This is Andy's obstacle.)


"So, I showed him what gear to get, and how to set it up. The look on his face was wonderful. He was so appreciative that not only had I showed him what to get, but I had given him a lesson in using our gear. It's an approach we still do to this day — with every customer we serve.


"The appreciation Andy showed towards us was significant, but it was nothing like the look he gave us the next weekend when he returned to our store. He told us he'd had such an incredible outdoor adventure with his wife that he had quit his job the following Monday morning and was establishing himself as a freelancer. (This is what Andy learned from the experience.)


"Well, that put a huge smile on my face. It was at that moment I realised we weren't just selling outdoor gear, we were changing people's lives. And that's why ... (say it with me)


"At Freedom Camping Gear, we believe in freedom, because the soul-soaring experience of feeling truly free that comes from camping is something that shouldn't be denied to anybody."


I don't know about you, but this story certainly conjures strong emotions in me, and makes me feel very positive towards Freedom Camping Gear.


Sadly, this is a fictitious story, and a fictitious company (any resemblance to any company with this name is purely coincidental.) But I hope you can see how finding your emotion-led one-word business value, and then using this value to guide the writing of your story that follows a tried-and-true storytelling approach can reap dividends with your target audience.


The only thing that's left to do is start telling your story — and many other stories like it — that keep pushing your one emotion-led business value across all your customer channels.


But that's a story for a different day.



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