Everyone loves a good story. And if you happen to be an entrepreneur, you most certainly have an inspiring one to tell.
Stories bond people together. Stories build trust, add credibility, they all have a message and teach us lessons. When you go to a party or an event, the person with the largest draw is usually the one telling a good story. And the number one way to captivate an audience during a speech or presentation is with, yes, you guessed it, a good story. Most importantly, stories move us.
Whenever we win a new client, the first thing I do is ask the owner how s/he got into his or her business and how s/he started their company. Nearly all entrepreneurs started their business on a kitchen table or in their garage. But from there, I hear about the struggles, the defeats and of course, the triumphs. And in most cases, the struggles and defeats were many and dire enough that others may have succumbed to defeat and thrown in the towel. Building a business is not for the weak hearted or the thin skinned. Business ownership is about daily survival even when a business is enjoying record quarters.
These are the reasons why each story I hear is one of inspiration, and I always learn something not only about how to grow and build a business, but also about the character, strength and mental toughness of the person telling his or her story to me. If I never asked the owner of the business to tell their story and just focused on what the company does, it’s unique value propositions and its mission, it would be impossible for me to understand the brand.
We’ve all heard time and time again that people are emotional beings, and hence buy largely for emotional reasons. If you don’t tell your story, your brand has no emotion and no personality. If your brand has no personality, you won’t be able to truly bond with your customers.
Will everyone who connects with your brand read your story? Of course not. However, what I can tell you is that more than half the people I meet have read my bio and ask about my experience at The Second City. That’s enough evidence for me.
Types of stories worth telling
Aside from the story of how you started your company, consider sharing stories about:
- How you came up with a winning idea or solution to a customer problem
- The tough decisions you made as you built your business
- Your fights / your darkest hours
- Your triumphs / your brightest hours
- Your failures – not only is it humbling, it makes you human and everyone can relate
- How you succeeded when everyone said you would fail
- How your products have changed people’s lives
- The many ways your company and products benefit your customers’ customers
- Lessons you’ve learned as a business owner
- How you came up with your brand name
- Anything else compelling you wish to tell
Brilliant Examples of Brand Stories
TOMS Shoes was founded by Blake Mycoskie who witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes while traveling in Argentina in 2006. “Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need.” To date, Toms has given more than 50 million pairs of shoes to children in need. For the full story, click here.
Ford Motor Company owns one of the greatest brand turnaround stories of our time. For nearly a century, Ford Motor Co. was synonymous with quality American manufacturing. However, complacency, competition and failing to adapt to the changing consumer almost killed it – that is, until Ford and its leaders righted the ship by making risky, bold, yet very necessary changes, such as trimming back its product line and placing a sharp focus on innovation. Yet, despite the progress Ford made, it suffered a loss of nearly $15 billion in the 2007 global financial meltdown. But in the end, Ford persevered and won the admiration of the country because, unlike GM and Chrysler, it didn’t take advantage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) “bailout” funds.
In 2010, the company roared past earnings forecasts and posted its best quarter since 1998.
So, I ask you, what’s your story?
Wisconsin’s only Certified Brand Strategist
Principal of Seroka
Consultant w Speaker w Trainer w Author