One of the things I work hard on is helping companies tell their stories in a way that’s interesting. There has to be a reason for the story. And a hook. (If you aren’t sure what I mean with the term “hook”, check out my blog about hook, structure and pictures.) Ultimately, the goal is to make people think, learn or laugh as a result of your story. But the process matters… you should try to give life to your story.
In other words, don’t use too many words that you wouldn’t normally use in regular conversation. Words like synergy, amalgamation, and diatribe. (And hey, I’m happy to talk with you that way but it sounds like we’re playing verbal Scrabble.)
When someone is reading your story or watching your video, the way you communicate sets the tone for the relationship. If you stay 100% professional you may miss an opportunity for a deeper connection. And it might be a brand disconnect… if you are a fun, outgoing, passionate person in real life, and you come off all business in your storytelling, it can throw people off. Let your personality come through in your communication.
And relax… it’s a good thing to abbreviate often because it’s more conversational. It feels to the reader like you’re talking directly to them. And yes, I just abbreviated words in both of the preceding sentences… but maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “preceding” in this sentence. (I abbreviated again that time, so maybe we’re good to go. And again… I just can’t help myself.)
It’s a tired statement… but still true. Nobody wants to read a commercial about your company, products or services.
Okay, that’s not entirely true… I enjoy reading the Kansas City Business Journal every week. But it’s usually because I have some kind of personal connection to the business or person in the story. So reading about expansion plans, new lines of business or new employee promotions is interesting… but only because it impacts my existing relationships and my awareness of what’s going on in the business community of Kansas City.
There are ways to sell without “selling” in your stories.
I do three core things in my business. I help companies tell stories through blogging, I do LinkedIn training and I build websites. It’s rare in the TEN YEARS I’ve been blogging that you’ll find an article that says, “buy web development from Blue Gurus.”
For example, let’s say my goal is to remind people that I do web development. Instead of talking about features and benefits of my web development process, I’ll celebrate the launch of a client’s website and focus most of the story on them. I will talk about what they do in their business. What it was like to work with them on their new website. And maybe a little plug at the end about Blue Gurus’ web development.
The end result? You see what I’m capable of doing, but the focus of the story is the customer and the joy of working and accomplishing something together. You can infer from the story what I do for a living, and if you have the same need, the hope is you would reach out. It’s about a trusted relationship turning into a buying opportunity because I’m telling you what I’m working on this week, this month and this year. You can tell I care about the process and relationship because I’m giving life to the story in the details I choose to share.
This can be the hardest for some. Many people struggle putting themselves out there in their storytelling. This can be especially true for men who’ve been taught since childhood to show no weakness or emotion.
The challenge is being true to your relationships. Most of the time, people will read your story because they have some kind of personal connection with you or your company. They have that “reality TV” syndrome where they want to know what is going on with you. The good and the bad. What you are passionate about. What you’re doing.
If you teach them something, they will appreciate it. (Like avoiding RoboCalls for good.) If you make them laugh because you childishly love building LEGO sets, it will strengthen your relationships. If you invite them to get involved and make a difference through a toilet paper drive, they feel like they’re part of a group, an important and basic human need.
And here is the most important point of all. I think the purpose of marketing is to position yourself and your company to influence buying decisions. And if you look back at your last ten sales that mattered, you will find that the majority of them came through a trusted referral or repeat business from an existing client.
If that’s true for you, then it’s obvious that staying top of mind with your network of relationships is critically important. You can do that in an artificial way through marketing speak and sales commercials. Or you can choose to tell your friends what you’re doing and what you care about so that they feel connected to you. Help them remember you and your company by telling great stories. Educate them in a fun or creative way. Make them laugh. Make them proud to be part of your circle. Staying top of mind happens when you tell them stories on a regular basis, so choose those stories wisely and give them life.