Storytelling for small business marketing

Your Business, February/March 2018 issue

By Amantle Mokubung

If I had to recall back to the marketing communication that recently caught my eye, or should I say “captured my heart”, it will have to be the South African Love Story that was released by SA Tourism in October 2017. If you are yet to see the advertisement, do yourself a favour by searching for “Meet South Africa Meet Bheki” on YouTube. The commercial authentically encapsulates everything that makes South Africa unique, different and remarkable while giving substance and heart to the marketing message. Rich layers of practices and lingo from different parts of the country as well as elements of pop culture that immediately resonated with me is what made the content more memorable. As the need to stay tuned into the ever-changing landscape of content marketing rises in 2018, the value of the real story behind your business and its customers rises. You might have not realised this but the gold that will help you take your business forward lies at your fingertips, it’s all in your brand or company story. People connect with and are inspired by real people with real stories. They not only want to draw inspiration from them but they want to find ways to support them and to become part of their community.

While you look for ways to invest in your marketing strategy, source the expertise that will help you articulate your story and showcase your customers with the aim of empowering, inspiring and establishing a community of like-minded people who will either end up as your employees, customers, partners, investors or suppliers. Your job is to recall back to the days when you started out; think back to the why. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What was your reason for establishing the business?
  • What drives you to do what you do everyday?
  • When the idea of starting your business came to mind – where were you, how and
    when did the idea come about?
  • What were the obstacles that you came across?
  • Were there moments when you thought: “I must have been crazy to think THAT
    would work!” or perhaps “Where in the world did I get the guts to pull that off?”
  • Were there times when you felt like giving up?
  • When was your big break? How did it happen?


Your answers to these questions builds up to the content that makes it easy for people to connect with your story, remember it and to share it with others. Humans relate and respond to stories. They love the drama, inspiration and being the first to share the details, that’s just how we are wired. Use this content to help you craft an authentic story that people want to hear and can learn from. In whichever format you choose to share your story (video, imagery, email marketing or paid advertisements), you can choose to chronologically break it into chunks that you can share over a period of time. This will help keep your audience hooked to the content and create a build up to the release of the next chunk of the content.

Amongst the important aspects of your communication is a showcase of the community that
is connected to your company. Gone are the days when people used to believe the fluffy feedback that clients give about companies through testimonials, whether it is recorded on video or using email communication. The buy-in is now in real life stories that are captured to reveal how your company’s existence is contributing towards the greater good of the community or the empowerment of others by either employing them, partnering with or sourcing from other small business, and by providing the type of services that you do. With their consent, allow your customers, partners and employees to tell the story about their connection to your business in their own way. People are often more eager to share content that is about them or is produced by them. Remember to provide them with guidelines or the key components of their communication such as having them reveal how their association with your company has positvely impacted their lives. Consider different ways of sharing their stories; with employees, you could look into covering a typical day in their lives without invading their privacy – pinpoint aspects that give a peak into their lives while focusing mainly on what you wish to communicate; your company or brand story 


  • Be real. It makes it easy for people to connect.
  • Keep your WHY in mind, always. It’s the breeding ground for content marketing.
  • There is a lot to gain from sharing your story – you could end up a beneficiary of an enterprise development programme.
  • Your community makes the business, they are also your content drivers. Make the most of every opportunity there is to share their love connection with your company.