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Blog Tips With President Obama: Storytelling Matters

Looking back, United States President Barack Obama recognizes the impact of storytelling to inspire a group of people, and offer a richer explanation of information. In an interview this July with CBS New’s Charlie Rose, Obama says:

“The mistake of my first term-couple of years-was thinking this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”

Obama understands that amongst the policy juggling and reform initiatives that were explained in political addresses, there was no shareable narrative. No sense of a journey to follow.

We use stories “to entertain, to share common experiences, to teach, and to pass on traditions,” says Smashing Magazine author Francisco Inchauste. Stories can pique an emotional connection that sparks empathy in the reader. We grow attached to certain narratives. We identify with fictional characters.  We nurture memorable experiences through stories.

Consider storytelling for your business blog. You want to compose a delightful space for users to return to again and again, and in doing so, become better acquainted with your company products or service.

Blogs can be used as strictly promotional real estate, sure. But how compelling is that?

Company marketing objectives are like Obama’s policy speeches: totally legitimate, well strategized, and meaningful to a certain audience.  But like Obama says, “where’s the story that tells us where [we’re] going?” To compel audiences to believe in your product or service (or government policy), involve them in a meaningful way.

You can enlist web storytelling at several stages of online marketing, from site development to content composition. Today we hone in on business blog storytelling, with an example of what that looks like.

How Matchstick Used Their Blog To Tell Their Story

Matchstick Coffee Roasters opened in Vancouver, BC in January 2012. A picture of the owners Aaron, Annie, and Spencer greeted us on the first page of the Matchstick blog. More than five months before the shop was slated to open to the public, the Matchstick story had begun to take shape online. Aaron took readers on a journey that followed three young entrepreneurs from acquisition to completion.

Readers became acquainted with the characters (owners) and were engaged by the story of opening a small business. Aaron showed us the bones of the building with his rich photographs, and explained the historic details of their chosen space. By reading the Matchstick blog, we came to care for our protagonists and for their success. This wasn’t a detailed blog story with daily updates and expensive content features. This was an honest and engaging account of a small business in development.

And it “ended” happily: Matchstick Coffee Roasters received citywide acclaim as one of its finest specialty roasters, and has been bustling since opening day. They’ve since moved their storytelling from their blog to other channels. Check out their Instagram to see their story continue.

Every small business has a story to share with their audience online. What’s yours?

See Also

Write White Papers, Gain Leads: Content Marketing for Small Business

Inchauste, Francisco. “Better User Experience With Storytelling-Part One.” 29 January 2010.
Warren, Michael. “Obama: My Biggest Mistake Was Not ‘Telling a Story’.” 12 July 2012.


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