Since before writing was invented, humans shared stories orally. Ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Indians and others told their stories and created myths and legends through drawing, painting and poetry spanning thousands of years and several cultural milestones of human history.
In modern days, we listened to our ancestors telling their stories and learned about history through many forms of communication. Literally, a love of stories is encoded into our DNA. Stories matter to us on a deep, emotional level.
As a business owner, as a leader, as an entrepreneur, your story matters.
Tell that story to your employees, investors, customers and potential customers. Keep them listening. Consider why to tell your story.
Create and Strengthen Relationships
Internet savvy consumers don’t just want to “buy stuff” from people. They value relationships and the conversations that create them. Of course you can be in business without telling the story of how it came to be or why your brand is important. You can even be fairly successful. But, stop to consider. In today’s market, without engagement, without a relationship, you’re going to have to sell your products or provide your services one at a time. Forever. One by one.
Isn’t it far better to create relationships with your customers by sharing powerful, meaningful stories and retain them as customers for life, as opposed to treating each sale as a one-timer?
Without the relationship connection, your customers have little incentive to buy from you a second, third, or fourth time. You’re simply selling a product of convenience. That may work for you. But, do you want customers for life who buy your products not simply because they’re convenient, but because you take the time to share with them something that matters? You took the time to forge a bond and a relationship with them, then storytelling is how you get that.
“ In a world where people have a lot of choices, the story may be the deciding factors.” – Nick Morgan, Author
Start with your brand
Your compelling story can be used to promote your business, to pitch to potential investors and to inspire your employees. And, to create your company’s culture.
Ask yourself these questions. What inspired you to start the business you are in? Your personal and unique experience? Why are you doing this? Every “start-up” has a story to tell. Many successful businesses today started in a garage, a living room or kitchen.
Kim Lavine, stay-at-home mom, began making pillows to heat in the microwave to use for relaxing muscles. She assembled them at the kitchen table and gave them to her kids for their teachers. Kim’s product became an absolute phenomenon and was picked up by Saks, Macy’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Her kitchen-table ideas fostered her two bestseller books, Mommy Millionaire and The Mommy Manifesto.
My friend Jim told me how he started out as a freelance writer. He half-jokingly described first starting out like “trying to make a living by scrounging for change in the cushions of my sofa!”
At the outset, no one knows what your skill level is and it takes time to demonstrate your worth.
If your customers know and understand where it is you’ve come from and how your company, your brand and associated products came about, you become more meaningful to your customers. They’ll appreciate you more and be even happier to buy from you.
The same thing is true of your business. No matter what it is. Your customers will want to do more than just buy from you. They will want to hear your story.
Tell Your Story
Our ancestors sat around the fire to share their stories with leaders, followers and family members. Their survival depended on it. And it still does. People bond, connections are made and knowledge is shared when people tell their stories.
Now, as technology has become an integral part of our communication methods, our stories are told in many ways. Stories “go viral” on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, TED Talk, beBee and other social media. Some people find that connecting with others through the old-fashioned letter writing and postcards is more emotionally satisfying.
Begin with a message. Know the audience you want to share with: employees, customers, investors, etc.
Perhaps tell how you said “goodbye” to the nine to five rat race and struck out on your own. A great opener! It’s okay if you struggled. It’s okay if you failed. Don’t be ashamed to share those aspects of your story. Think about your favorite books. The heroes of those stories probably struggled and failed too. After all, it wouldn’t be much of a story if the hero succeeded on the first try.
What matter most is that when people tell their stories and feel that they are heard, magic happens!
So, is there a better time to tell your story?
This is something you can put into practice right now. Not soon. Not tomorrow. Today! You don’t need any special skills. At least not any above and beyond what you already have. And, with practice, you’ll become a better and more natural storyteller over time.
Your customers. Your employees. Your investors. They all are dying to hear your story. So, tell it to them!
“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” An Old Native American Proverb