People want to know: What’s your story?
If you’ve been in business for 57 years—how did you get your start?
If you’re a hot new startup—what’s your vision for the future?
If you’re somewhere in between—how do your values shape your business?
When customers (or potential business partners) visit your “about us” page, they want to see what you represent, how you do business, and why you’re different from competitors.
So, does your story resonate with your audience? Help them build trust? Put a face to the name of your storefront?
It should. But if you feel like it doesn’t, these storytelling tips are for you.
Storytelling tip #1: Collect as much info as possible.
You can never have too much information to work with—but you can have too little. That’s because it’s harder to make stuff up. Worse than that, it is unethical. Fake (or overly embellished) stories come across as inauthentic. They don’t work.
Also: When you don’t have enough information (and you still want to be truthful), you’re forced to speak in generalities. Without specific details, your story is dull. So even if your story is honest, it’s boring. Boring is bad.
So ask yourself, “Whose story am I telling?” Then talk to them. Record them. Film them. Ask as many questions as you can—and don’t quit until you’ve got a beginning, middle, and end to your story.
Pro tip: More is never enough.
Storytelling tip #2: Develop a story arc.
Introduce key characters immediately: Who is the reader supposed to care about? Why?
Establish a setting: What year is it? What city, state, country, or planet does this story take place? (If your story ever takes place on a different planet, please, for the love of God, email me so I can read it.)
Present an event (or events) that always drive the action, such as:
- A problem to solve
- A challenge to overcome
- A question to answer
- A goal to achieve
- An idea to explore
- A mission to accomplish
- A discovery to celebrate
These events are all cut from the same cloth, but you get the idea: Creating conflict is key.
No one’s expecting you to write the next great American novel, but all good stories feature characters that need something. As Kurt Vonnegut says, “Make your characters want something right away—even if it’s only a glass of water.”
Stick to a logical sequence: Start your story in the past and work up to the present… or vice versa. It doesn’t matter whether you move forward or backward in time, as long as your story is linear. Unless you’re writing a script for an eccentric moviemaker, your “about page” doesn’t need to look like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Make it clear, concise, consumable, and easy to follow.
Create momentum: Structure each section of your story so readers can’t help but ask, “What happens next? What happens next?!!” Always pick up where you left off.
Pro tip: In your conclusion, close with a definitive statement that could stand alone as a “power statement” in any context.
Storytelling tip #3: Tell the story in separate parts or sections.
Most web visitors aren’t interested in reading a super long page of text, so break up your story into sections. Use images, icons, videos, titles, and/or taglines to separate each section of copy. This will make your content more “digestible.”
Pro tip: Creating an interactive timeline is a quick and effective form of storytelling.
Storytelling tip #4: Use the present tense.
Some of your story might look into the future, and that’s pretty cool. But in most cases, your story will take place in the past. Does this mean you need to write in the past tense? No!
You want your reader to feel like the story is happening in real time, so write it in the present tense.
An active, present tense establishes a sense of immediacy and intimacy—it helps the reader feel as if they’re experiencing events alongside the characters themselves. In other words, it’s easier to be a part of the action.
Pro tip: Stick to the simple present tense.
Storytelling tip #5: Switch up your sentence structure.
Here’s a recommendation that is true of most copywriting: Alternate your copy with long and short sentences. This will create a rhythm, flow, or cadence that keeps the reader from getting bored.
Too many long sentences will drone on. Too many short sentences will sound dull and choppy. The solution is to mix and match long and short sentences.
Pro tip: Use shorter sentences. In succession. Like this! This’ll create a fast-paced, exciting, or energizing effect.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to add longer sentences, like this one, to add specific details that’ll keep your rhythm flowing—albeit differently—and draw your reader in even more.
Looking for a good storytelling example?
Let’s tell your story together.
Only you can tell your brand story—but we can help you write it. Updating a web page? Refreshing your print collateral? Let’s craft the most compelling story for your customers! Contact us online, get a quote, or call us today at (716) 926.9266. Talk soon.
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