Any experienced business leader will tell you that it takes more than a great product to succeed on the market. This is particularly true in the case of startups, who are often starting from scratch when it comes to catching the attention of investors and future customers.
In our recent series of case studies, we spoke to a number of startups that had run successful crowd funding campaigns via platforms such as Kickstarter. When asked why their campaigns had succeeded where the vast majority fail to reach their goals, the answer they all had in common was 'storytelling'.
In the context of business and engineering, storytelling reflects the way you explain the purpose of your product, what you hope to achieve and how you plan to achieve your vision. Telling a compelling story not only helps a consumer to better understand your product, it can also communicate that you have a fully realised business plan in which they can invest with confidence.
A really inspiring story can also add a human interest element to your startup. Many businesses have enjoyed enormous success after the innovative features or benefits associated with their products gained traction on social media.
As an entrepreneur or developer, you may not consider yourself to also be a natural storyteller. But good business practices and good storytelling do go hand in hand, and without a clear idea not just of the function of your product, but of the journey you want to share with your target audience, it may be difficult to gain the traction you need to take your enterprise forwards.
Here are some simple content angles that may help you to tell the story of your business more effectively
"How we're going to change the world"
If you're developing a product with a significant real-world problem-solving application, don't be afraid to put this potential at the centre of your business story. There may be many years of trial and error between your prototype and the iteration that achieves your ambitions, but so long as you're realistic and don't misrepresent your product or the work you're doing, backers are more likely to be inspired by a product that reaches for the skies than one that seems limited in scope or strikes an overly cautious note from the beginning.
"What we've achieved so far"
Before a consumer or investor parts with their money, they're likely to want some proof that you have the drive and business acumen to make your enterprise a success. A good way to demonstrate this is to tell the story of how you've developed your product or business up to this point. Seeing how a piece of technology has developed into a business proposition can help consumers to better understand the nature and potential of your product, in addition to validating your authenticity. When we spoke to nScope last year, they credited the video they produced demonstrating how they developed their portable lab technology - and proved that it worked in situ - with the ultimate success of their subsequent crowd funding run.
The people behind a product or enterprise can be just as interesting to a consumer as the product itself - particularly is they've already been involved with a successful business or product launch. You could also draw on your academic credentials, expertise on the product or the market you're working in, or any personal stake you might have in the product you're developing. For example, if you're marketing a product aimed at children, are there any parents in your team? If so, how did you draw on your experiences as a parent in conceptualising and developing your prototype?
"What inspires us"
Every project starts with an idea - and every idea needs inspiration. Whether you drew from an existing technology or theory, something in your everyday life or even science fiction, describing how the first seeds were planted for your project - and how you took that initial idea and developed it - can be a fascinating hook for your startup story.
The power of multimedia
In addition to developing a strong story for your business, it's also important to tell that story in an attention-grabbing, accessible way. Many startup success stories have employed multimedia such as video to get their message to a wider audience. When producing a video for your startup, make sure you're looking at ways to make it stand out from the crowd. This doesn't necessarily need to involve a high production budget, in many cases a cleverly-made DIY video can be just as effective. If you can incorporate your product into the creation of the video, so much the better.
Can you think of a business or startup that tells its story in an original and compelling way? Tell us about it in the comments section below...