Have you ever wondered what startups do to become market leaders ?
I wish there is a PERFECT ANSWER.
But there is none.
It is just like the African proverb that says “there are many paths to the market”,
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) April 28, 2014
This means that you can choose your own way to grow from nothing to something big.
But, allow me to share with you a subtle part of the market leadership strategy.
It’s so salient that many people fail to give it credit for the success of their business. This is because it is more of an art, than science.
It is called storytelling.
The power of storytelling for business.
From a business perspective, what exactly is a story?
Your story is what you say about your brand that elevates your startup from a commodity to a folklore status.
As Seth Godin puts it, the secret of successful companies is in the marketing story they tell. Their powerful story narratives makes you remember them beyond what their software or product or services can do.
Take for example, Andela – a software talent company.
If you strip down the company to its core, the business model is simply talent outsourcing for Silicon valley companies. They make money by hiring competent workforce in markets with lower payscale (or in local parlance: cheaper labour from Africa) to work for American companies.
But they paint a really great story.
Their story paints the picture that talented people are equally distributed everywhere and it is their job to discover and connect them to jobs of their dream.
Here are few headlines of their impact stories…
With that simple storytelling, the company has grown to become one of the most funded startups in Africa in recent times. They’ve raised over 81 million USD within 3 years of operations, with campuses in Nigeria, Uganda and other African countries.
Maybe, that is why Virgin Group’s Billionaire owner, Richard Branson wants entrepreneurs to be storytellers.
He believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful, yet, not-so-obvious secrets of powerful market leadership.
When I reflect on this, Jason Njoku appears to be a perfect example of someone who ran with this advice.
He hired Jessica Hope to help him tell his story.
Many will remember the huge press she amassed for IrokoTV in its early days. She helped Jason and IrokoTV to be on the pages of every major newspaper, media outlets and blogs. From Fast Company, to Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC and FORBES.
The narrative was simple:
“Here is the man who is bringing Nollywood to the rest of the world….the Netflix of Africa”.
Staying consistent with this storytelling strategy is more than getting PR headlines. It permeated through everything iROKOTV stand for, including branding, product positioning, movie content and now, its own productions.
Today, irokoTV is not just the YouTube channel making Adsense income in 2011, it has become a company that have raised more than 40 million USD from investors.
Why am I sharing all these storytelling success stories with you?
It is because:
Your story is one of your primary strategies to market leadership.
In a world where everyone is doing the same thing, it is your story that will differentiate you from the rest.
In fact, when you know the right way to frame your story to investors, customers and employees, you can use that story to accelerate your growth and spur action from customers.
Here are 3 ways you can use storytelling to INSTANTLY grow your business.
- Use Storytelling To Raise Funding
If you have ever tried to raise funding, one of the secrets to raising big rounds has everything to do with the story you tell.
This answer on Medium shows WHY.
“There is no substitute for being a good storyteller. Often the reason one company raises capital more easily than another in the same general category, with the same general metrics, is that the founder is just more compelling storyteller”
The best funding advice from one of the most powerful venture capitalists who invested in Facebook and Twitter is to tell stories.
He said: “Your story is your strategy”.
NOTE: It is important to point out that storytelling alone is not enough to raise big rounds. But the right story will help.
- Use Storytelling To Sell Your Products
You can make your product appear more valuable by the story you tell.
For example, a retailer, AHALife, grew revenue six hundred percent by telling the story behind the product. This 6X growth is the difference between making N1million vs N6 million revenue with the same effort.
Also, such is the story of SuperMart.NG.
An online supermarket in Nigeria that have grown their online grocery business by using storytelling and copywriting in their emails. Even though SuperMart never shared the result of the performance of their emails in public, it is something they are still doing today…since 2014.
This is simply because it works.
- Use Storytelling To Get Maximum Exposure For Your Brand
The right storytelling can transform your business. And there are so many examples to share.
– Anakle – a digital firm
The agency launched the Bride Price app that got everyone talking and opened new market and international visibility for their brand
– Mark Essien – HotelsNG
When you are in the same market against a Rocket-funded competition, what do you do to keep your position after raising a mere $1.5M in funding in 2 seed rounds ?
Tell great stories.
Mark did a good job of this. He got coverage on CNN by sharing the story of how he approached hiring at his company. He launched a platform to discover interesting places in Nigeria. He funds an internship programme to attract talents and even gives away his office (and now studio) for free.
Let’s talk about you.
What difference will the right storytelling make to your business ?
Many entrepreneurs are facing frustrations because they don’t know how to brilliantly communicate why their startups should exist….why customers should care about their products or why investors should fund their business.
Don’t be like them.
You can save your business from these struggles by learning how to tell the right stories that immediately create bond with your prospects so they’ll eagerly buy what you’re selling.
When you tell these stories, you will attract high-paying customers, get your business on TV, get your pitch deck funded, and make your customers scream, “Shut up and take my money!”
You might already be thinking: how do I tell the right story.
Thankfully there is a framework for that.
Get ready to craft a great story that will grow your business.
Dan Norris wrote a compelling approach for business storytelling (it’s worth reading)
It is summed up in this pictorial framework.
Because your stories are far more powerful than facts & figures, your authentic brand story will connect with your customers.
Like a great movie, your customers needs to feel a sense of connection with the character of your story in such a way that it tells your customers “we relate to you, we understand you, we are like you”.
When this happens, customers buy your products, investors invest in your company and everyone help to spread the good word about your business.