By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer.
Everyone likes a good story. Even nowadays, with an increasing amount of facts and data at our fingertips, we're still swayed by a good story that helps us make decisions, including who we do business with.
So, how can business owners use storytelling techniques to get the message out about their business? Here are three tips:
BE SPECIFIC Good stories tend to share a few key characteristics. The first is that they all have a beginning, middle and end. In other words, you have a starting condition, something happens and then you have a different finished condition as a result. The heart of the story is this arc, where something is transformed. It could be a person, a company or even an entire industry.
The second characteristic to a good story is the details. Not some customers, but six. Not "Our customers really like us," but rather, "Our customers like us so much, they want to invest in us." Stories appeal to our senses, so the more specific the detail, the more we can hear the sizzle or smell the steak.
TAILOR YOUR STORIES Successful business owners are actually telling stories all the time, perhaps without even realizing it. When you're selling your company to a prospective client, you might tell a customer success story. When you're speaking to an investor, you might tell a personal story about how you came to be uniquely qualified to execute on your business plan. When you're recruiting a hot prospect to come lead your human resources department, you might tell the story of how the executive team became a close-knit group through Tuesday trivia nights.
BE NOTABLE The best stories are memorable, leaving an indelible mark in the mind of the audience. They create powerful associations between you, your company and the vivid details of what you do and why you do it. And taken together, the stories that you tell become your brand.
Take, for example, a Charlotte, N.C.-based e-commerce automation startup ecomdash. Many companies claim to be "customer-focused," but that statement can easily feel empty. Ecomdash, however, can tell a compelling story about how it worked closely with its first beta customers to deeply understand the problems of e-commerce sellers.
Laura Greeno, co-founder and head of marketing, said in a recent phone interview, "We started out with a very basic inventory, order and shipping tool, but once we were able to onboard those first six beta customers into our program, they really helped us build the right thing. So the product addresses exactly their specific problems and gaps that they didn't have a good solution for." ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com