On high days and holidays, there is often gridlock when travelling from A to B. Recently at the start of Thanksgiving in America, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Los Angeles highways for miles in both directions. Heavy internet traffic is equally frustrating. Sometimes it seems like no-one is going anywhere they want to go, very fast!
Conversely, a good business story will take you in any direction we want to go, as long as you know where you are heading. It’s the passport for connecting with clients, wherever they hang their hat. It’s the postcard you can send to anyone, wherever they live and work. You can use it to meet people halfway across continents, mindsets and media. You can pull up a chair and connect with strangers so long as you have a story worth telling, a clear calling and destination
I live in the UK and recently I had the enormous pleasure of meeting a fellow storyteller, Peter Kerr, with the cool title of ‘Chief Simplification Officer’ in New Zealand, over Skype. His company Punchline http://punchline.biz/ distils a company’s core story into 7-10 words, so it immediately creates rapport and starts conversations. As a business storyteller, with a background in Marketing, within minutes I found myself chatting with him as though we’d known each other ages. This is because we had a common interest in each other’s story. Oh yes, if your business has a story, it’s guaranteed to travel. So let me tell you why, where and how. Let me start with a story.
1. A story with a heart will travel
I’m Katherine Ledger, Brand Storyteller. Born into a family of bookworms, from a young age I was fed a diet of George Macdonald’s ‘At the Back of the North Wind’, Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Princess and the Pea’, Dr Seuss and Shakespeare. I did not learn about storytelling in any business textbook. Storytelling stole my heart and I became a willing conscript.
An information Manager then a Content Marketer in a large telco, their’StoryMaster’, I learned that a cold hard sell cut no ice with clients. I fell upon a powerful link between telling powerful business tales and making sales. I created a sales toolkit comprised of emotive people stories upon which to hang facts and data about a complicated product portfolio. This gave a large sales community a simplified marketing toolkit for emotionally resonating with customers. This helped them seal some impressively large deals.
On icy winter mornings, motivation is hard. But what gets me out of bed in a heartbeat is helping business people discover their ‘Why’; the motivation to do what they love doing, expressed as a story. Sitting at the heart of their business, they can carry it in their back pocket and wear it on their sleeve wherever they go. They can weave it into conversations which emotionally bond with the right people. Neuroscience suggests that over 90% of purchasing decisions are based on emotion rather than logic. In the words of The Great StoryMaster himself, Seth Godin, “Facts tell.Stories sell”. Make that truth your mantra.
So what makes your own heart skip a beat? It can’t be just selling a good product or service. Here are some ways to put love into your story and create a bond of trust with everyone you meet on the journey.
2. Start with why
Begin your journey by questioning the purpose and passion behind your actions. Your chosen path is bound to have begun with a frustration. Cinderella didn’t have a dress to wear for the ball. Paddington Bear left home because his elderly Aunt Lucy couldn’t look after him. At the heart of every great story, there’s a hardship. That’s why you set you off on your maiden voyage of discovery to find meaning and connection.
If your ‘Why’ does not jump out, peel back the layers and plot your journey on a timeline, seeing each section of your life as a chapter intrinsic to your story. Along the way, you will discover your underlying motivation for going in search of a better life for yourself and others. That’s the emotion which will bring your story to life. That’s the experience which will spark an emotional connection with those you meet on your journey. For a helping hand on finding your ‘Why’, be inspired by unshakeable optimist and visionary speaker, Simon Sinek at http://startwithwhy.com
3. See your journey through another person’s eyes
It’s incredibly hard to see the world through another person’s eyes. We think we know what they are experiencing but can be wide of the mark. We need to ask permission to climb up alongside them where the Panoramic view is something else. We need to ask the right questions.
That’s what the founders of Airbnb, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky did in 2007, struggling to pay their rent. Having become friends at Design school, they knew that a huge Design Conference was coming to San Francisco. But all the hotels were fully booked. So they came up with the idea of renting out three airbeds on their living-room floor and cooking guests (needing a bed for the night) their breakfast. The next day they created a website, airbedandbreakfast.com. The idea went bigger and now the rest is history. By turning another person’s problem on its head, they discovered a mutually beneficial solution. Read their inspirational story here. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9525267/Airbnb-The-story-behind-the-1.3bn-room-letting-website.html
4. Speak the same language
Wherever you go, you’ll meet men and women, different cultures, age groups and professions who communicate in a language, tone and style specific to that community. Therefore, walk the walk and talk the talk of the people you are trying to reach. Find out where they get their information, what books they read and which role model inspires them. Know what they value and would love to happen if someone could only wave a magic wand.
Go and hang out where they do, take your story with you and find out about theirs. Read this quirky article about how to how to personify in a ‘buyer persona’ the key people you are trying to reach. http://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/how-to-build-a-buyer-persona-a-recipe-for-success/retail
5. Plan your destination with the end in mind
On your travels, you may well get tempted to disappear down a side street or take a flight to an entirely different continent. Yes, spontaneity is a great quality and can result in some exciting new ideas. However, consistency is key to keeping you committed to where you need to go. Begin with a route map for your journey from which you can plan its different stages and measure progress.
If you are not sure where to begin, start with a simple one-page content marketing plan which focuses you on where you need to be heading.
Finally always have content you can market to your clients and would-be purchasers at each stage of their journey of getting to know, like and trust you. Then they’ll want to join your community and also respond to that important final call to action. But that’s a whole topic for another day.
For now, rest up and sleep easy, as the guys at Airbnb would recommend. If you have a business story which never sleeps, you can take it anywhere you choose to travel!
Katherine Ledger is a Content Marketer, business storyteller and the owner of Copy That Sells. If your story doesn’t reflect your true personality and heart towards your customers she’ll help you pan out your business’s gold nuggets and write them into marketing content which wins clients’ hearts. Reach her at copythatsells.co.uk , +44 (0) 7703 545117, Katherine@copythatsells.co.uk, https://uk.linkedin.com/in/katherineledger