You own your story. So you should be the one to tell it. How you do it is key to helping you stand apart from the competition.

Storytelling goes beyond the "about us" link on your homepage. Your narrative crosses all marketing platforms, from blogs to white papers to new-employee training materials. Crafting your story requires knowing your audience, picking the right tone and choosing what to leave in and what to take out.

Here's what you need to do to turn your audience into clients or customers.

Express yourself effectively. Formal or conversational? Whimsical or Joe Friday (just the facts, ma'am)? Cuteness can make you look frivolous. Use of jargon can create the impression that you can't relate. So, pay attention to how you communicate. Otherwise, your message will fall flat.

Tell us why. Tell your audience why you created your company, the challenges you faced, and the risks you took. The reasons don't have to be profound, just honest. Explain how that passion still thrives today. This will help people relate to you, and that makes it easier for them to support you and your company.

For example, ourstory.ricedelman.com lets you learn about our values, history and approach to client service and advice. We even offer a timeline, with archival photos, that guide readers through 20 years of company milestones. It helps people understand us, appreciate the depth of our heritage and get to know us better.

Solve a problem. Listing your accomplishments may impress you and your loved ones, but a story isn't a trophy case. Show readers challenges you overcame or innovations you came up with--and how that's helping your customers or clients. Don't just say you did something; your readers want to see how you did it.

Widen the circle. A story with only one character is one-dimensional. Let readers hear from other voices within your company and show how they contributed to your story. People who don't relate to you might relate to others in your firm. Including other voices also shows that your company is bigger and more established than one that's just operated by a sole proprietor.

Keep it simple. No data dumps. No bragging. Exclude details that don't advance your story. Include only those that show why you are different or better.

Storytelling is transparency. Let it underscore everything you do.