I remember as a boy the stories my granddads would tell me about their lives, with my mother’s father being in the Navy during World War 2 to my dad’s father who originated from Jamaica with stories of the island landscape to catching fish in the local river and working with his trusty donkey transporting lumber (timber) as he would call it.
Both had different upbringings one from the UK and one from Jamaica, but what this experience did; was fill my imagination of the great things that they had seen and done. I was gripped and loved to hear the next story, so stopping over at their homes was always fun.
I’m now in my thirties and those stories are with me and still as vivid… The power of telling a story gives the listener the opportunity to use their creative imagination, setting the scene, the sounds and the feelings building up a visualisation of what that means to them. This is also true when telling the story of either yourself or your business in relation to attracting in the type of people we wish to build relationships and do business with.
I feel like I’ve heard this story before…
Far too often I come across businesses, either in person or through their marketing material online with the same things done, selling features and benefits of their services and products but with no real focus on setting themselves apart from the others (competitors) in the rat race. What I mean is that if a the company had a strong enough purpose as to why it was in the niche that it was, and was able to articulate this through offering a story like message, there would be greater chance of engaging with their prospects on a longer term basis.
“We live in times of high stress. Messages that are simple, messages that are inspiring, messages that are life-affirming, are a welcome break from our real lives.”
What I take from this is that if your focus was to truly differentiate why you or your company does what it does, and there was a conscious effort in the marketing message that was driven by your purpose, this would allow the creative imagination of your prospects to run away with the idea of working with or buying from you.
What’s this got to do with customers loving my company you may ask?
I met a guy who we’ll call Tom at a networking event who when I asked what do you do he said “we do cabling and communication” so I said what does that mean? He replied “In offices when you see all the cables running through the building connecting pc’s to a network and phone lines, we do that.” I replied oh that’s cool, actually thinking that doesn’t tell me much nor does it inspire any creative thought as to how I would engage with his company if I needed to. After some further conversation I then agreed to look at his website in order to take a closer look at how he marketed his services online and offer him some feedback. On viewing his website it was clear to see it reflected what I had heard face to face and from my experience – offered very little in terms of uniquely explaining how his company was anything different from his competitors and when it came to winning business – his company could possibly fall into the trap of selling on price alone.
How my story would sell
So in my opinion Tom hadn’t sold his company to me in the best light, I understood what they did but not why I would choose to use them. The story was not there and the purpose was not driving his marketing message, his face to face introduction nor his business.
You see with a story you can pull in those people who are waiting for you to engage them, to tell them something different that sparks their imagination, that breaks the monotony and makes them want to work with someone or a company that offers this inspiration.
The story retold: How I would have given Tom’s introduction.
I met a guy called Tom at a networking event, when I asked what he did? …to get the conversation started he replied… “For businesses and people who are so used to working in an uninspiring environment where their office becomes a drain on their productiveness – we bring energy and speed” at this point I’m thinking that sounds good, so I asked what do you mean exactly? He replies “In my time in the cabling and communication industry I’ve worked in companies where their systems and technology are slow and as result negatively impact on their employee’s productiveness and happiness at work. So I made a decision to use my knowledge and experience to make sure people can work in a better environment and live happier lives. Offering innovative techniques and the latest technology to ensure people’s computers are better connected, delivering data faster more reliably, resulting in a happier work force that drives productiveness and profit in the companies we work with.”
At this point there are a number of thoughts that would run through the listeners mind, the opening statement describing energy, which most people want more of, the second part explains in a more story–like tone allowing me to build a picture in my mind, explaining the industry he is in, why he does what he does, explaining his decision to offer people a more productive and happier place to work – how. Analysing this a step further it also shows he cares about people which would trigger the emotional side of most humans. Then finally what he does the actual technical and logical side is revealed last.
I then agreed to visit his website and give him some feedback, on reading his website, it offered great insight into their Purpose, why they do what they do and more reasons why they are unique in what they do. Focused not on what they do but how their services impact people for the greater good of their lives. On reading further there were case studies and blogs showing how their products and services continued to push their purpose showing how they lived and breathed this on a daily basis, displaying congruency, integrity, fun and professionalism in their culture.
With this as a corner stone as to how they communicate their story, value and purpose, they have moved away from being another company in their niche to a company that is uniquely different and one that focuses on the success of the people they work with – no longer selling on price or falling into that trap.
The Cone – Simon Sinek
“For an organization to operate at its maximum potential it must function like a cone…like a megaphone. That is to say, for the megaphone to work properly it must be loud and clear. Volume represents the amount of publicity or goods and services sold and clarity represents how well all those things are connected to the Why.
Relate everything you do back to your Why – your purpose. Speak loud and clear in your value adding marketing message and engage your listener. Tell a story that can be remembered because it will have a greater chance of sticking in the minds of your prospects, allowing you to build rapport faster.
My story is about helping others to realise their potential, challenging strategies in order to evolve and grow through experience and education along that journey, then taking action to achieve and become successful.
If you haven’t done so already start to review your marketing, your literature, your website, the way you introduce yourself and your company. Build your story and link it to your Why, this will give you edge of your competitors but more so it will allow prospects to love your company even before they become a customer.
Over to you
Some of the greatest people & companies in history and present day have achieved notoriety because of their ability to wrap their purpose into a story that allowed others to believe. What are your experiences, do you have examples of individuals or companies who tell a great story?
Further viewing & reading:
- Simon Sinek: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html
- Jack Canfield: http://youtu.be/gOKEYhyUE2k
- Tony (Anthony) Robbins: http://www.tonyrobbins.com/
- Gary Vaynerchuk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqIqDDB35lc