Ian C. Tomlin serves as Chief Marketing Officer for USTECH SOLUTIONS, INC. Follow him on LinkedIn.

Is it worth investing time and money (independently or with the help of an agency) into getting your story straight? Here’s my perspective as the chief executive of a storytelling agency.

Businesses are socially conscious these days.

2021 will be remembered for lots of things — the increased popularity of hybrid work, COP26 and “the great resignation,” to name just a few — but for me and many people, I think the big story will be how businesses have had to become more socially aware and join the debate on subjects they would probably have chosen to sidestep a decade ago.

In this more socially engaged state, brands are rethinking how they communicate and making their propositions more human. A key weapon in marketers’ armory for doing this is storytelling.

At US Tech Solutions, we use storytelling in almost every communications program across our business because we believe it contributes to adding clarity to our messaging in what has become a congested communications environment.

It’s natural for humans to tell stories.

Since the dawn of time, humans have used stories to educate one another. Storytelling has been the cornerstone of religious teaching and features heavily in modern coursework that educates children.

You would think (wouldn’t you?) that by the time people find their way into the corporate boardroom, they have developed this talent in spades. But telling stories isn’t necessarily smooth sailing when you have a complex story to articulate.

Why tell a story?

Thanks to modern social media, competition for authority has arguably never been greater. Every business brand looks to represent itself as the authority on its chosen subject. In the 21st-century communications arena, that often means distilling information down to sound bites and conveying your messages in the smallest possible amount of space and time. To do that better than your competitive rivals, you need a great story.


Furthermore, if you find a way to message your product offering in the form of a resonating story, it becomes more repeatable, referenceable and distributable. This is the essence of why stories became such a hit in the first place: It’s so much easier to encourage others to repeat your message when you can frame it within an interesting human narrative that links people to places, plot and purpose.

There are several core building blocks of a story.

Creating your story means stripping it down to some essential building blocks. In our case, we fixate on defining the:


They do say that a great story starts with an interesting protagonist that the audience can quickly learn to care about. Partly, this is about giving your character a rich personality and background. You can guess that — in a marketing context — we normally call that a persona profile. Every good business story paints a rich picture of the personality at the center of the unfolding story.

Tip: It’s important that your audience can quickly identify the richness of this personality, so look for opportunities to create sound bite identifiers that characterize your protagonist and that will resonate with your audience.


Next, you should look for an event or situation that causes your protagonist to need to get a job done better. One would hope that this happens frequently to your audience. The ideal outcome of this “intervention” is to cause the individual to feel compelled to take action to resolve the pain or harness the opportunity you present to them.

Journey To Resolution

In my experience, the best stories have the audience follow a protagonist through a trial-and-error journey where they first encounter a “situation” and finally — at the end of the story — find a resolution. In the case of business stories, painting a picture of the learning journey can help your audience humanize the challenges and makes for a more interesting story.


Remember that last five minutes of your favorite movie where the hero or heroine finds the perfect match in the perfect place as the sun sets on the idyllic scene? Good storytelling ends when you share the rewards of all the plot twists and turns. You should expose the pain relief or gains in very clear ways to leave behind a sustaining memory of how the story ended.

Final Thoughts

Great stories have a start, and middle and an end. Setting out this plot will help you to test whether your messaging is hitting home with your audience. Rather than assume your work is on point, the better option is to test your story with a small focus group of target individuals to find out how easily they understand it. This can help you to come up with better ways to adjust the words and phrases you use to deliver the story. Like all forms of persuasion, practice makes perfect.

 Read our story