Tell Your Startup's Story and Captivate Your Audience. Here's How.

All entrepreneurs have, or should have, an elevator pitch. That pitch is their market hook, their story. What's yours?

learn more about Anna Johansson

By Anna Johansson


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When successful brands record their core values, those values transcend the paper they're written on: They move beyond mere mission statements and marketing strategies.They engage people in a living, breathing story of what those brands stand for.

Related: The 5 Elements of Storytelling Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

In order for you to get your own startup to this point, you have to excel at one important thing: storytelling.

The power of a good story

All entrepreneurs have, or should have, an elevator pitch or quick five-minute speech about their company or idea; that pitch is ready to go should they find themselves in front of a potential investor or business partner.

These pitches are well-rehearsed, honed and delivered hundreds of times in different social settings and formal meetings.

And these speeches and pitches are vital because founders and startup entrepreneurs understand the importance of connecting with and appealing to people through emotions, details, and powerful sensory elements. While it's one thing to explain the framework of a business, it's another to add flesh to the bones and make the business relatable.

But something funny happens after a startup gets funded and begins to grow. Suddenly, the elevator pitch is irrelevant; gradually the team has begun to pour all of its focus and energy into the internal processes. The irony at this stage of the game, however, is that storytelling is more important than ever. The audience has changed -- it's now customers the startup is trying to engage -- and storytelling is more valuable than ever.

Point to a successful business and chances are high that its marketing team recognizes the power of storytelling. Take Diamondere, a leader in the designer jewelry industry, as an example. The business has been around for over a century and, while it has changed over the decades, the brand has always focused on storytelling.

Its creators understand the importance of building a backdrop that people can connect with, especially in a crowded industry. Through their storytelling, they've been able to humanize the Diamondere brand and engage a larger number of customers.

Related: How Storytelling Helps Business Connect With Customers and Drive Growth

Blue Apron, the popular fresh meal subscription delivery service, is another relevant example of a company that uses storytelling to create a more powerful and relatable brand. All you have to do is check out the brand's vision ("We're building a better food system"), which makes clear that customers should see the brand as more than just a food delivery service.

Blue Apron wants to be seen as a company that believes in sustainable food, treats supply chain partners with dignity, reduces food waste and provides fresh ingredients that allow people to cook delicious and healthy meals.

Do you see any difference in their approaches? Even though they aren't raising seed money from investors, the entrepreneurs behind these brands are still fully committed to storytelling -- and they're clearly reaping the rewards.

Four tips for better startup storytelling

In order to humanize your own startup through storytelling, there are a few things to think about in terms of top tips and best practices.

1. Uncover your why.

When entrepreneur Joanna Lord mentors startups, she's said, she likes to ask them what made them take the jump. "Startups are rarely the safe choice," she told "Often they are crazy leaps of faith, based on something you can't shake. You jump into it because you love something about the idea and [it] is aligned closely with everything you hold true. This is your why, and it should be at the heart of your startup story."

Before you can become a successful storyteller, you have to uncover your why. What is it that inspires your business?

2. Get raw and honest.

If you're a marketer at heart, you're accustomed to polishing everything up before it's delivered to your audience. You proofread, revise and edit. But you should resist the temptation to use this mentality with your storytelling.

Rarely does a company enjoy a smooth road to the top. It's typically littered with potholes, accidents and roadblocks. Instead of trying to hide these aspects of your story, highlight them. Reveal your brand's struggles and acknowledge past mistakes and shortcomings.

People connect with difficult circumstances and want to know where you've been and how it's affected you. They're much more apt to remain loyal to your brand if they know you're being honest and transparent with them.

3. Prominently display your story.

Far too many brands come up with a powerful story and then tuck it away on some obscure page on their website. "Amazing stories deserve to be front and center," Lord says. Don't be shy about pushing your story to the masses. It's the only way to justify all of the energy that goes into uncovering and crafting your story."

Related: From Bedtime to the Boardroom: Why Storytelling Matters in Business

4. Captivate your audience.

Revenue may come from the products and services you sell to customers, but it's often hard to build a successful business without having a powerful story behind the brand. You must learn how to captivate your audience's attention and humanize the name and logo found on your product packaging or website header.
Anna Johansson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Freelance writer

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer who specializes in social media and business development.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

I Live on a Cruise Ship for Half of the Year. Look Inside My 336-Square-Foot Cabin with Wraparound Balcony.

I live on a cruise ship with my husband, who works on it, for six months out of the year. Life at "home" can be tight. Here's what it's really like living on a cruise ship.

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Business Solutions

Learn to Build a ChatGPT Bot for Only $30

If you want to see what AI can do for your business, grab this course bundle today.

Health & Wellness

5 Essential Steps to Expand Your Vision and Start Living Your Dream Life

It's time to break free from your comfort zone and expand your vision. When you refuse to settle for a mediocre life, you can start building a life you love.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.