Seth Godin changed his book title from “All marketers are liars” to “All marketers are storytellers” – and I can see why. He has a great angle on the art of telling a good story in business: If you make it believable, even if it isn’t strictly true, people will believe your story… If they believe your story becomes true.
In politics we are sold stories to sway our vote. “Story telling for financial advisors” is essential reading if you want to sell investments to the public. What better example of using this successfully than the master storyteller himself Warren Buffett. He illustrates his points with great stories so that everyone can understand complex ideas.
So what will your story be? Perhaps it is better to ask “what would you like it to be?” What would you like people to think about your business, product or services? How would you like the story to be told forwards?
If you can think of this you can start to create a story based on the now but with the idea of what the future will bring. In the case of a car stories are told of the feeling of ownership. If you have a Toyota Prius then you are telling everyone that you are a caring person who values the environment. Having a Ford Mustang Shelby you are telling the world a different story.
In both those cases your views or behaviour may not completely match the statement but it is all part of the story you are telling others. If you would like to be like that and aspire to become more environmental or macho; then the car may be part of getting there. However if not it is just a lie that others will see through.
This is the same for the story your business tells. Make it the truth, or what you would like the truth to be, or people will see through the story and you will do harm to your brand.
For some great examples see Seth Godin’s book. One of my favourites is the wine glasses that we are told make the wine taste better. After testing they actually do; but only if we think that they do. If we are not told they have an effect there is no effect. It’s a self fulfilling story, and it works. The same goes for countless restaurants that enhance their average food with the pomp of great service and wonderful ambience.
And the point is that story telling is a great way to get people to buy in and believe. It’s a way to enhance experience and value. It’s also a fantastic way to keep your customers and get new ones.
Notar bene: If you are telling a bad story then this will also be told forwards, and perhaps more often. This also applies to restaurants; good food can be overshadowed by the poor service or dirty bathrooms. Be sure your whole business is “on story”. Consistency is key and to get that everyone needs to have their story straight. So it’s better to plan it in advance. Write it out and give all concerned a copy.
Once you have a story to tell there are so many places to go out and tell it… I can hardly begin to list them. Your own business or industry will have specific publications and places. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are also key and the biggest way to tell everyone your story.
Make sure your story leads your niche. If you are in an area (geographical or industrial) a story can pull you way ahead in local SEO – which I am a big advocate of. It’s also an excuse to talk to people, to engage and post on blogs and sites all over the web.