With so many messages coming at us from all directions, it’s hard for businesses to get through the clutter and reach and engage prospective customers. One way to reach them is through emotion—and to create emotion, you must first create motion. Storytelling is an effective approach to create that emotive pull.

So how do you create a story for your brand or business? Follow these tips from Mike Kappel, founder of Patriot Software.

1. Set the Parameters. Your business story should be engaging. But if it doesn’t have a clear focus, you’ll quickly lose the attention of consumers. Establish context right off the bat.

To start your brand story, answer the following questions:
Who is telling the story?
Why is the story being told?
When and where is the story taking place?
Who are the people in the story?
What are the people trying to achieve?
What challenges are faced?

Parameters will help you develop an engaging story that makes sense to your audience. Set the scene so that consumers know exactly what you’re talking about. Most importantly, establish why you’re telling them this story. This will guide the audience through the narrative and hook them all the way to the end.

2. Be Authentic. Authentic storytelling is key to gaining consumer trust. Don’t try to fool your audience with an over-the-top tale. Customers know when you try to pull a fast one on them, and they don’t appreciate it. Your business’s story doesn’t need to be elaborate. In fact, if your business doesn’t have an earth-shattering history, your story shouldn’t try to create one. A genuine narrative is more likely to connect with consumers than one without a shred of truth.

Recognize that things are not always easy by showing your own challenges and failures. This creates an emotional connection, as well as reveals admiral characteristics, like innovation and resilience.

3. Have A Clear Outcome. A great business story leaves your audience with something. What lesson was learned in the story, and what should consumers learn from hearing it? Business stories should have a clear outcome. Provide a hopeful, thought-provoking message with actionable points that compel your audience to connect with your brand.

4. Be Consistent. A disorganized brand story leaves customers confused and disinterested. Make sure your brand is consistent across all communication channels. Use the same colors, logo and slogan for digital and print marketing materials. The repetition of images and verbiage associated with your business creates brand awareness.

5. Get Customers Involved. Use business storytelling to strike an emotional connection with customers. Talk about how an event related to your business affected you and what you learned. This creates an immediate response that makes your story memorable and shareable.

People like to be a part of stories. Your customers can be characters in your brand. Come up with ways to get your audience involved. Make business storytelling an essential part of your operations to attract and retain customers.

Source: Mike Kappel is founder and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC. He has over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience across five startups. He started Patriot Software in the basement of a factory and grew it into a multi-million-dollar company that serves small businesses across the United States.