Not ‘what?’ but ‘why?’ 5 reasons your website needs a story.

Sharon Tanton

Your business needs a story. Some good words that explain why you do what you do – a hook that helps people remember you, understand you, and talk about you to others. Here’s how to do it.

Without stories Hansel and Gretel would just be a couple of kids who got lost in a wood, and Goldilocks would be a house breaker. We need narrative to help us understand and remember the world around us.

Your business needs a story too – some good words that explain why you do what you do. A hook that helps people remember you, understand you, and talk about you to others.  If you can’t explain what you do simply, you can pretty much guarantee that no one else will be able to do it either.

A web project that starts without a story quickly degenerates into wooliness. What images do we use? We don’t know, because we don’t know what we’re trying to say. What content do we need? Couldn’t tell you, because we’re not sure what the message is. How should the copy sound? Not entirely sure as we’re not clear on who we’re talking to.

So how do you find your story? Where can you uncover the golden thread that will illuminate everything you do?

You can start by giving it the time and space it needs. Give it some serious thought before you pick up the phone to your web designer. Have a very clear idea of what you want to say before you start.

Soul searching is important, but like so many good stories, you will probably need to go on a journey to find the answer. Reach out of your comfort zone and talk to the wise ones – your clients and customers. Talk to them about what you do for them, how it makes them feel, what benefits you bring to their lives.

Your answer  – and the story you need to tell – will almost certainly be found buried in these words. And like the words of the wise one in the story, or the lyrics to a song you thought you’d forgotten, you’ll recognize them once you hear them.

5 reasons your website needs a story

  1. If you want a website that inspires trust (and, of course you do) then the WHY needs to be as clear as the WHAT.  Stories explain the WHY.
  2. Stories help people understand quickly, and speed is of the essence in the digital world.
  3. Stories stick in the memory far better than unconnected facts.
  4. Without originality and purpose you’re in danger of slipping into stock shot territory. Shots of offices that aren’t your own, smiling models pretending to be satisfied clients, the same image of a hand shake that features on the garage website down the road. Without a story to tell you won’t know how to differentiate, and that affects the images as well as the words.
  5. If you want people to talk well about you, you need to give them something good to say. Look at Hiut Denim for inspiration. We love their story of why they do what they do. Find the meaning in what you do, and communicate that message.

If you’d like help finding your business story and turning it into a brilliant website and content then talk to us. We’d be delighted to help (actually, it’s our favourite part of all we do at Valuable Content.)

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And if you want a longer read, this book is brilliant on this subject – The Power of Why – by C. Richard Weylman.

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4 Comments

  1. Oh that’s great Marc – thank you very much. As Simon says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. So start with the why.

    Reply
  2. Awesome article. Especially liked your point about the WHY needing to be as clear as the WHAT. If businesses aren’t telling their story on their website then they’re missing out on the chance to develop a relationship with their audience before they’ve even spoken to them. If your browsing a site and can relate and engage with the story they’re telling, you’re definitely more likely to see what else they have to say.

    We’ve actually literally just posted an article to our blog on storytelling through your website, although ours is more example based but think it goes well with the points you make. It’s at http://www.mediademon.com/improving-user-experience-web-design-storytelling/ for anyone who’s interested.

    Reply
  3. Thanks Josh – I really like the examples on your blog of businesses making story telling work – excellent stuff!

    Reply

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