Storytelling can help startups get the winning edge

The lure of storytelling came to mind, as I was flipping through art on a rainy afternoon. I stopped at Salvador Dali’s artistic masterpiece The Persistence of Memory, and the story of the ‘melting clocks’ is by no means easy to grasp.

Brands too, reveal their stories, carry us along, and sometimes change their stories like Axe and now, Micromax which is all “nuts, guts, glory”!

Today, the buzzword is ‘startup’, and we read about small businesses with big ideas sprouting everywhere and creating waves. There’s OYO, Ola, Uber, Quikr, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Zomato, Hike, and the list goes on. The owners were recently touted as the Poster boys of the Indian startup industry.

When the name Rahul Yadav, ex-CEO of Housing.com comes up, chances are that you have already heard of him as a popular, controversial face of the Indian startup scenario.

Are India’s startups serious businesses, or will they just fade away when the funding stops? We constantly read about many popular ones that have reached a crunch point, when funds are wanting. And, when Apple’s CEO Tim Cook visited India, speculations were rife that Apple is likely to announce an accelerator program for Indian startups as part of its CEO’s visit to India. Now dearth of excitement, I would say.

If you look at what the perception is of the janta about startups, one adjective would describe them – “cool”, apart from the “excitement” that surrounds them. Unlike the trying times when one of the first startups took faltering steps to enter the industry, and I mean Hotmail here, today they are a dime a dozen. If you remember, Hotmail service, the world’s second largest Email service provider that took the world by storm, was the brainchild of Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, who created history when Hotmail was sold to Microsoft for $ 400 million.  And even today, failure is no indication to stop. Check out Rahul Yadav, who is currently working on his next venture, backed by Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Micromax’s Rahul Sharma and Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

Yes, the “cool” tag stays. The Indian startup is witnessing a boom, the number of entrepreneurs in India are growing in leaps and bounds. Gone are the days, when someone would hesitate to quit a job to spin off their new venture. They are ringing in the winds of change. And, if you are thinking, how can a startup cut through the clutter and rise above the competition?  The answer is simple: make your stories heard.

It’s all about storytelling.

You have a brilliant idea and a growing business; you can pitch to venture capitalists, but the correct exposure to the right people would really help you kick off in the right direction.  The right PR strategy can help by getting startups, the exposure and visibility they need.

Take a reality check here. The entrepreneur lives his or her story every day and knows it better than anyone, but that’s only half of the battle. It takes strategy and strong relationship-building to conjure up a story into a narrative that is woven through the media. Then, there’s keeping that story alive, once it’s unleashed into the public domain.

Thus, putting the spotlight on the value of storytelling.

The challenge for startups is to be a good storyteller. In an information-saturated world endless content overwhelm us daily, and it is the power of story that allows us to cut through the noise. Storytelling does help a startup company that wants to get noticed in a digital age. Entrepreneurs, small business owners and startups believe storytelling can play a key role in their success. They recognize stories can give their startup a competitive edge, create an exciting brand personality, and, in the process, drive sales.

There’s a storyteller in each one of us. (Remember the story reading habits that we inculcated right through our childhood!)

Why storytelling matters is clear when we look around and watch the power of brands to create stories that resonate with target audiences. How do you pull compelling stories out of your own organization? How do you tell your own brand story in a way that relates to your customer?

Ultimately, entrepreneurs in their own capacity are the authors of their corporate stories. With a little help from PR, the story can be expanded, highlighting how it fits into the different media frames. A company’s narrative can achieve the highest business-building impact. And, yes, it’s the power of words.

For sure, startups do attract a lot of media coverage today. As a startup you have something news media wants: a new and exciting story. And, investing in key message creation can streamline your communications. In arriving at key messaging, you’re finding your brand and your storyline…

So, keep the storytelling flag flying high, and there is no stopping…

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

1 Comment on "Storytelling can help startups get the winning edge"

  1. Thanks guys, I just about lost it looking for this.

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