Earlier I argued that blogs that tell (describe the facts) without sharing (describe emotion and intent) will have a tough time getting readers to comment. I went on to say that stories are the skeleton key for unlocking reader engagement. Stories lowers the reader’s guard and helps them relate to the subject. Put the two together – sharing with stories – and you have gasoline for your engagement.
I got a hefty round of applause from nonprofit and “passion bloggers”. However the business crowd wondered how their buttoned-up, rational, business could tell compelling stories.
Fair point. That’s take a moment to think this one through.
Businesses are People Too
A business is just a fancy way to organize people to serve other people. If they do it well, they grow. If they don’t they go bankrupt. Great businesses realize that every transaction has an emotional component. They do all they can to optimize the profit of this transaction while meeting customer needs.
The best businesses make sure that their people come out from behind the logo and show the customer that a human-being is serving them. We see this people-first approach at Southwest, Apple, State Farm Insurance, Agua Dulce Coffee.
Every interaction is the basis for a story that can be crafted into a story. These stories are authentic and relevant. These stories humanize the business. Adopting a different mindset reveals stories in every corner of the business:
- Customer service success stories
- A supplier’s commitment to delivering high quality materials on budget and ahead of time
- The CEO’s dedication to serving the local community.
- Product design brainstorming sessions
- Quirky culture-defining company events
All businesses have stories. The problem is that they have forgotten how to tell them. It’s easy to let the door of your business become a reality distortion field where only stilted, choreographed, and scripted communication becomes the norm.
Nothing says that consumers prefer abstract, emotionless, soundbites. Its group think that dictates that business professionals prefer to be talked to as if they are mindless cogs in a machine. The first company that ignores these so-called best practices become the leaders simply because they’ve decided to reject the me-too dictates of their industry peers.
Take baby steps:
Start with one blog post a month that shows the “heart” behind your business. Pay attention to how well the post does. You will need evidence of success to expand your experiment.
Be prepared to be a ghostwriter:
The best stories are likely hidden in your senior management team’s heads. Unfortunately these folks don’t have the time to sit down and write a blog post for you. Instead offer to meet with the team member for an informal interview. Use this interview to create a draft post for approval. Most people find it much easier to edit a draft than writing a post from scratch.
Put a bounty on stories:
Turn the process into a game. Offer inexpensive prizes for the best stories. You’ll be surprised how a free Latte can get the creative juices flowing.
Don’t derail your editorial calendar:
It will take time for everyone to feel comfortable with your new direction. Keep your editorial calendar on track while adding your new posts slowly over time. This will lower the risk of failure out of trying your approach.
How have you added stories to your business blogging mix? Tell us about it in the comments below.