By Gail Martin
Stories sell. Stories reach us in a deep and memorable way that sales pitches do not.
What is the story of your business? Sometimes, part of the story is about you, the business owner. Sometimes, the story is built around the owner’s passion to right a wrong. If you don’t think your business has a story to tell, here are five ways to uncover your Real Story:
#1: The owner’s story: Some types of stories reach very deep into the American consciousness. Stories about second chances, self-made successes, hard-working newcomers who realize the “American dream and reinvention speak to very deeply held beliefs about who we are. I have one client who came as an exchange student from China, received her education here and met her husband. Because of the gift of a pearl necklace from an aunt, this client and her husband now own a pearl importing and jewelry design business. Her story of reinvention and adaptation while retaining her roots has gotten her media coverage and positive exposure for her business.
#2: The product’s story: What need does your product meet? I have a Laundromat customer who doesn’t just give people clean clothes he helps them show their love for their families and succeed in the workplace by having a neat and clean appearance. In his city neighborhood of recent immigrants who are climbing the ladder of prosperity, family and self-respect are very deeply held values. Do your services or products offer people security, good health or a chance to succeed? What is the need that prompts your customer to buy?
#3: The business’s story: Has your business overcome adversity? We cheer for the businesses that found a way to come back after 9/11 in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City or after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Has your company weathered bad times, lopsided competition, succession crises or problems and come back stronger than ever? People love a come-back story (notice that Rocky Balboa has six movies!).
#4: Your customers stories: Go beyond testimonials. A case study tells the story of the problem and how your company solved it but it’s really a story about a hero, a dragon and a damsel in distress. The dragon is the business problem for example, a project badly behind schedule and over budget. Your company is the hero. The client is the damsel in distress. Every good adventure has a few plot twists to keep our interest what challenges happened on the way to slaying the dragon? Did you lose key project personnel when you needed them most? Did a piece of crucial equipment break or get delayed in shipping? Details like this make your story compelling. And then there’s the happy ending how your company solved the problem and what it meant for the customer significant dollar savings, productivity enhancement, the ability to compete in new markets. Help listeners feel the real benefit.
#5: The story of your mission: Is your company part of your mission in life? Do you want to make the world a better place through the product or service you provide? Perhaps you became a lawyer because someone in your family was taken advantage of, and you want to make sure that others receive justice. Maybe you learned martial arts because you were robbed and ended up opening a studio to teach others to be safe. Your mission goes beyond your personal story to have a broader impact and make a difference in the world around you. Even the most mundane business can have a mission. Maybe you repair cars, but your commitment is to keep people from being endangered by breakdowns or from losing their jobs because of unreliable transportation. How do you make a difference?
Telling the Real Story of your business makes a powerful connection with potential customers. It can be the springboard to compelling media coverage. It can differentiate you from competitors in ways they can’t copy. Once you uncover your Real Story, it affects the way you communicate about your business and the way you think about yourself, your products and your customers.
Gail Martin is a Smart Women’s Coaching Contributing Marketing Expert. You can read more of Gail’s Marketing Articles at www.smartwomenscafe.com