This was a question one of my clients asked me a while ago, and I totally understood why. She was in a corporate environment, working with a lot of professional services companies, and didn’t ‘get’ the whole story telling thing.
Luckily she was open minded though, and when I invited her to build in some stories into her presentations, she did. Well, her next presentation went down a storm.
I have talked before about how important stories are to everyone. They are a key driver in all sorts of ways, but let’s look specifically at business.
There are all types of different business stories so let’s take a look at a few:
There is the Story of THE Business itself, there are the stories you tell your customers and there are the stories you tell your teams.
So firstly, the story of THE business. This is key in defining your brand. This is the why you started your business story and it should incorporate your purpose, the reason and the outcome. It should also follow a story telling method credited to Pixar. Don’t worry it doesn’t mean you have to have Toys in your Story! (That’s a different kind of story altogether!)
First, tell the audience what and who the story is about.
Then tell them what life was like then.
Then have an ‘until one day’ moment – when everything changes and because of that X happens.
Now in a proper story that should not be the end of it because it is boring.
For example. “Mrs. Character” was living a normal kind of life, one day someone called ‘Mrs. Character” fat, and because of that “Mrs. Character” decided to lose weight. BORING.
Compare that to “Mrs. Character” was living a normal kind of life, although keeping healthy was a struggle. One day someone called “Mrs. Character” fat and so she decided to lose weight. However, she found that when she followed a ‘diet’ it only worked for a short period of time and then the weight went back on.
“Mrs. Character” felt lost, lonely and very unhappy and so she went in search of an answer on You Tube and by chance she came across “Mrs. Guru” who said that saying you want to ‘lose’ weight will put the mind in a bad place, think about how you feel when you ‘lose’ something, what emotion does that bring up? The word loss and lose immediately conjures up a sad feeling (the loss of a loved one) or a panic (where did I put my keys) and when you lose something, you want it back right? Hence, the reason why weight loss is not the right way to approach an excess weight situation.
“Mrs. Character” realised that she needed to change her approach and not only did she become smaller, she decided to spread the word and help others. “Mrs. Character” studies more with “Mrs. Guru” and she began to offer her services as a therapist to provide other people who were struggling with their weight with an alternative approach.
The story of the business should inspire, inform and be memorable.
Then there are stories you tell your customers. And I don’t mean porky pies! I mean stories that relate how your customer’s life will be improved by using your product or services. And this is such a powerful structure that in the old days when Yellow Pages was an encyclopedia and not a leaflet, their sales training incorporated what they called ‘The Related Story’.
The structure went like this:
Just imagine, “Mr. Customer” that your perfect client has just moved into the area. They realise pretty quickly that the central heating is a bit dodgy and they are going to need a new boiler. They don’t have anyone they can ask for a recommendation because they are new, so what do they do? They open the Yellow Pages and look for Central Heating Engineers, and they see your advert which says “Is Your Boiler On its Last Legs?” – and with that eye catching logo you have, and your advert which explains exactly how your service works, your same day service and your lifetime guarantee, which is better than all your competitors. Who are they going to call?”
Of course, nowadays, the first thing someone new in an area would do is go onto Google or Facebook but here’s the thing – the same principle can be applied. You need to relate your services/products to your ideal customers so they can see how it fills their needs and why way where you are the only choice.
Finally, there are the stories you tell your teams and ultimately yourself.
There are the ‘this is where we came from stories’, and the ‘do you remember this occasion’ stories which bond teams together and then there are the stories of the future as you see it. These are stories, which map out what that future will be and how everyone fits into that picture. These stories that create the vision, the journey and your future reality as business owners.
For these future pacing stories, the vital ingredient is that you, as the business owner, believe 100% in that vision. You need to believe it so much that you know it is going to happen, it’s a done deal. Only then can your team hop onto that vision and help you turn it into reality.
If you read last weeks blog you will know there are some other stories; stories you tell yourself consciously and subconsciously – which can sabotage the vision. Read it here.
This last week I have had the pleasure of interviewing the business owners I have been helping to create their stories – check them out by clicking https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.chapman.public.speaker/
And if you would like to share your story too please email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to hear yours too.