Storytelling in business makes sense, it just does. It’s how a company goes from selling a product to selling an experience. Some companies may rely less on stories than others, but the stories businesses tell are always important. It’s (generally) the job of the marketing team to generate new ideas and to put interesting stories into the limelight, but a business can tell stories through avenues outside of the marketing realm.
On Amazon, while it is not true for every product on the website, many products have their own story, and Amazon’s many customers rely on these stories. Yes, I’m talking about the product reviews. These many reviews come together to build a story about each item, each seller, and Amazon itself. Never heard of the brand? What are the reviews like? How’s the battery life? Reviews? Well, this seller looks shady.. Reviews? What about–Reviews? It’s gone so far that shopping on a website without product reviews feels weird and outdated, without the story it is sometimes hard to trust a website (or the items on the site).
On Threadless, it’s easy to see that storytelling is an important part of the experience they try to sell. In case you’re unfamiliar with Threadless, it’s a website that sells clothing, and operates under the crowd-sourced approval of user-submitted clothing designs. In a nutshell, a user uploads a shirt idea, other users vote on it and give feedback/critique it, and it meets a certain level of approval, it gets printed and sold, and the designer gets $2500 (and if its popular, and goes to reprint, the artist continues to receive money). So, on Threadless you can view the story of the design of the clothing, participate in the design of said clothing, or design it yourself, and while buying clothing you get the feeling that you’re sponsoring this whole ordeal (and you get to buy cool stuff at the same time).
So.. storytelling in business.. it’s not just about the commercials you see on TV. The story or experience that a business sells to its customers (or likely customers) correlates to the product that the business wants to sell. Be it Amazon’s reviews building trust with its customers, those weird (overly) “satisfied customer” reviews talking about how amazing a company is, or a multiple customers sharing stories about a company’s helpful tech support repeatedly providing top of the line service, stories are an integral part of public image for a company, and should not be overlooked.