For years, many nonprofits have used Corporate Storytelling as a way to connect potential donors with their cause. Put a story to your mission, with real people behind it, and folks are more likely to open their hearts – and wallets – to donate. But why stop there?

Corporate Storytelling works for selling products and services, too. It’s both a powerful and effective medium to convey company culture, personality, and what your company is really like to work for and do business with. It’s like reaching through the computer to shake hands and have a one-on-one conversation with your potential customer. So why waste that opportunity?

“In a world where people have a lot of choices, the story may be the deciding factor.”
~ Nick Morgan

Here are a few tips to get started on creating your corporate story through your website content and corporate videos.

Who Are You?

The answer here involves more than just a brief company bio. Customers want to know what you stand for. Why did you open your doors? What problems do you solve? How do you choose your employees? And what keeps them coming back every day? Are you involved in community giving? What’s the motivation behind your brand?

And it’s not just about the company. It’s about all of the people within the organization — from the decision makers to the manufacturing line to the janitorial staff. After all, a company is comprised of the people within — those who create the fire behind the name. Every person has a story, young and old, so be sure to tell their stories, too.

Be honest.

That’s the most important rule. There’s nothing like the feeling of being duped when buying into a concept with no merit, or a company that doesn’t represent the values they profess. If you embellish the facts, or flat-out lie, your customers will either see right through it, or figure it out at a later date and feel betrayed. Then the credibility that you spent precious time creating has been destroyed.

Stay positive.

As with anything in life, a positive attitude goes much farther than a negative one. Whenever possible, state your intentions in a positive light instead of a negative one. Say what you are, instead of what you’re not. That being said, it’s okay to mention false starts, failings, and mistakes if your focus is on progression, lessons learned or problem solving. This storytelling speaks highly of company resolve and perseverance through tough events. And customers will know that if they have a problem, you’ll be there for them.

Keep it simple.

We live in a world of fleeting moments, with lots of data, imagery, and advertisements to grab our attention. Your customer’s time is valuable, and so is yours. So avoid over explaining because it only bores your readers or, worse yet, shows them that you are ignorant when it comes to their wants and needs. And take the time to tailor your story to each targeted audience. For example, if you’re marketing to more than one audience – say, busy moms and single women – they will each have different hopes, desires, and problems. It’s in your best interest to be tuned into those issues when crafting your corporate story.

Discover, Connect, Purchase

The recent inundation of business-helping shows, such as Bar Rescue, Restaurant Impossible, Hotel Hell, Shark Tank, and The Profit, affords viewers the opportunity to connect in-depth with businesses outside of their local area.

Telling your story allows your customers and potential clients to get to know you and your brand on a deeper level.

This deeper connection is what breeds brand loyalists and brand cheerleaders — those customers who speak highly of your brand in social, personal, and professional circles. These are the folks who, in essence, do your selling for you. There’s nothing more valuable than a widely circulated customer testimonial about your product or service.

Videos are a great way to convey company culture.

We are primarily a visual culture, and people love entertaining video. So get creative with your video content. Let’s face it. No one wants to a watch poorly produced talking head video. To better tell your story, add B-roll, stock footage and photos set to motion, creating action and drama along with the narrator’s voice.

Vary your video and content length.

Sometimes a 15-, 30- or 60-second video is the sweet spot for providing a short tidbit about your company. Sometimes a well-crafted sentence or two will do instead of a full page of text. You can stretch out your story and make that longer video or content piece work harder for you by breaking it up into quick and digestible segments for social media. Keep your customers coming back to learn more about your business.

Ultimately, people crave a great story.

And never before has there been such a demand for content in a long-story format. You can only pack so much information into 140 characters or less. Short bursts of information keep us wanting more. And a great story delivered with excellence – either through web content or video – will garner the attention your company needs to develop a loyal following.