When you hear a great story, you want to repeat it. And so do others: the best stories are contagious. Perhaps today more than ever in human history, a good story can spread far and wide – to the other side of the world and back again in mere minutes. There’s even a word for this new kind of story: viral.

The most successful companies tell great viral stories too, in their ads, videos, promotions, online content, and sound bites. Their products are embedded in their stories and compel you to connect with their business on a visceral level. Brands use stories to convey their company’s values and standards, ultimately aligning themselves with your values and standards so that you spend your money on their products and feel good about it.

Stories can (and should) be used from the earliest days of a startup venture. Startups that have this skill, secure investment and first revenue quickly. Their stories are embedded in their investor pitch and are fully seated in a believable framework, with story elements that flow naturally and lead to a positive conclusion: the inevitable success of the venture.

You’ve probably heard a few investor pitches, perhaps on Dragon’s Den or at a pitch competition. So what’s the difference between a pitch and business story?

A good investor pitch covers the basics of a business opportunity – the who, what, why, when, and how (much). It tells investors why a product is better than its competition, and the overall size and timing of the market opportunity. But, angels and venture capitalists need to understand how the business model will function in the world as they understand it. A story can convey a company’s realistic placement in a market, the forces that are creating new markets, the suitability of the founders, and the inevitable flow of money from customers or investors. An investor pitch that contains a story can do all of this, while also being memorable, contagious and emotionally compelling.

Crafting a great story is challenging, but not impossible. Stories have some basic components: a beginning, middle, and an end. The elements of the basic business pitch must be cleverly woven through your story framework. Well-crafted stories help investors see how your business fits like a puzzle piece into a future reality. When the elements are sound, the success of the business is inevitable.

But what about when the product hits the market? The very best product branding and sales pitches also use storytelling to entice buyers. In fact, the story you told to secure an investor might be the same one that triggers people to buy. This is because a good story places the listener in a world where the product exists and is successful. The listener can see themselves owning the product, enjoying it, recommending it to others – they can see how the product changes the world in which they live. If you can do that with your branding, you’ll have to order more inventory!

Now, if I’ve done my job here, you’re going to want to learn how to tell great stories ASAP.

Check out our courses and workshops page to learn more about upcoming storytelling and communications workshops.