As a small business, you’re supposed to know how to manage your finances, pay your rent, understand industrial relations, tax and marketing. And apparently, you’re also supposed to know what Storytelling is and how it applies to your business, no matter how boring it may be.
But it’s a lot easier to work out what that story might be if you follow this guide:
1. Understand the “then”
2. Understand the “but”
3. And understand the “therefore”
These three little words mean everything when it comes to sharing your story in a meaningful and effective way with the world. But how do you use them?
The importance of “then”
In any story, we tend to start off with someone doing what they always do. Making their way through their day, going to work, doing the laundry, picking up the kids from school — anything that would form that routine of a central character’s day.
Then something happens to stop that routine in its tracks and the day takes a very different direction. This beginning of the story forms our connection with the character and the story. Because the character has a routine not too much different than our own, when we see their unravel, we can empathise with just how much something similar would affect us.
The THEN is the problem that the customer has to overcome.
In the routine of a target customer, the story could be something like:
– You have a beautiful clean house, then you notice an unpleasant smell
– You successfully kept your kids away from mobile phones for this long, then something happened that made you regret your actions
– Your business is growing and succeeding, then the economy takes a nosedive
Each of these beginnings to a story begs the question, “what happens next?”
Copywriting an ad or a website “About” page around the idea of THEN, BUT and WHEN helps someone better understand your products and services and how they apply to them.
Let’s take a look at the next part of the story.
The Big But
As a story continues to turn its pages, we hit the point where what has happened to the main character hits a point of friction. Sure, this thing has happened, BUT something can be done about it.
This could be where Liam Neeson goes on a rampage to rescue his kidnapped daughter. Or where Elsa’s little sister tries to bring back her beloved sister from her “kingdom of isolation.” In a business or brand story, it’s the point where a solution to the problem is introduced.
The solution could be introduced like these:
– You have a beautiful clean house, then you notice an unpleasant smell, but there is something you can do about it with this product
– You successfully kept your kids away from mobile phones for this long, then something happened that made you regret your actions, but you still don’t want them all over social media. The Kid Safe Phone is your solution.
– Your business is growing and succeeding, then the economy takes a nosedive. But there is a way to change the focus of your business to something else with our free online course.
We were introduced to the problem and have now been given the solution. The next step is to confirm and reassure that it’s the right solution.
The reassurance of a therefore
It’s one thing to introduce a problem and a solution, but you still need to convince someone to use that solution. Especially when there are other solutions out there competing with yours.
Adding a “therefore” statement at the end of your business mini-story helps to reassure your customer that you are the right choice.
Your “therefore” can then be something like:
– You have a beautiful clean house, then you notice an unpleasant smell, but there is something you can do about it with this product. Therefore you don’t have to live with a smelly house because our product is available, affordable and effective.
– You successfully kept your kids away from mobile phones for this long, then something happened that made you regret your actions, but you still don’t want them all over social media. The Kid Safe Phone is your solution. Therefore you can stay in touch with your kids’ safety without unleashing the world of social media on them at such as young age.
– Your business is growing and succeeding, then the economy takes a nosedive. But there is a way to change the focus of your business to something else with our free online course. Therefore you don’t have to keep spiralling with out of control losses when you can learn a new skill, pivot your business and get back to growth.
You can customise your approach to it
You don’t have to include the words “then, but and therefore” into the copy exactly the way I did it here. As long as you follow the same flow, you’ll get the same effect. For those who have trouble knowing how to start writing articles, ad copy and social media posts, this is a pretty good way to make the process easier.
Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Treeti Business Consulting, an accredited ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.
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