A few weeks ago, in my corporate job, I was asked to participate in a sales training session that was all about creating compelling stories After completing the session I remembered times when my own founder / startup story attracted me to new clients.
When I go out to visit businesses every day, my entrepreneur journey connects me with my clients because they know that I have been in their shoes before and can give advice from my own personal experience. It’s very common for startups to be receiving advice from people who have only learned through traditional education, what it’s like to face a particular problem, but they have never actually faced it themselves. It’s this real world experience, told via your own personal story that attracts people to you.
So many times I have gone to visit a business and the problem that I came to talk to them about is completely forgotten because they are so engaged with my personal story and want every last detail – who am I to deprive them? There are times when I win business and I don’t even know why, yet all I can put it down to is that they feel connected to what I do in some way and that compelling stories are responsible for this.
1. Stories are the key to selling any businesses offering
Over the last few years, businesses have realised the importance of story telling which is why there has been such an increase in content marketing. When you’re trying to solve a solution for a customer, talking about products and benefits is just not powerful enough. When you tell a compelling story of a real life scenario that subtly highlights the benefits of your product, you instantly have a better chance of the prospective client understanding your value.
If you think about the marketing world for a minute, the most successful advertisements are the ones that tell a great story. This is no accident stories sell. In this current age where everybody is fighting for attention and people have very short attention spans, a story that is short, sharp, and succinct will be much more likely to sell your products or services than a page of features and benefits.
“Stories are a communal currency of humanity”
2. Your compelling story makes it personal
Like any good story, it is important to show the conflict that has occurred on your journey. Don’t shy away from talking about the failures; in fact highlight them as much as possible. This will show that your story is human and make it even more personal. When someone shares with you a personal story, you’re drawn in and it allows you to experience the transfer of emotion that is so crucial in selling. As the founder of the business, your story is the most important of all. The reason you decided to be the 1% of people that start their own business is what your clients are interested in. Your story can build a bond with them that can only be broken if you don’t deliver what you say.
The public have a very high authenticity detector and when a company tells you that they can do something amazing, people just don’t believe it and think that it’s hype. When a company tells their audience through a personal story, the response is totally different. The story must be true though and the moment people feel that any part of it is made up; your credibility is lost forever.
The advantage that you have over corporates in this world of storytelling is that the moment they want to tell a story, it has to go through corporate affairs for weeks and weeks, who will usually end up censoring most of the good content and leaving you with something that sounds bland, for fear that if the real story is told, their public image might be tarnished. Failure to omit the negative parts of the story takes away the personal aspect, which is needed to connect to your customers.Your story highlights why you are different to everyone else.
If you want to know how to deliver a great story to a corporate then read the Thankyou Group advice,
“Great stories happen to those who can tell them”
3. Your story highlights why you are different to everyone else
One of the hardest things to do in the crowded, modern business world is to stand out. If you can work on your compelling story, this is a way for your startup to stand out and make people remember who you are. At the end of the day, if your startup helps business with their accounting software needs, no one will remember this when they are out at the pub on a Friday night talking to other business owners. What they will remember is the story of how your business came about and why you do what you do.
Think back to the last time you told your friends about a new smartphone app. Was the reason you told them about it because you heard an interesting story about the app? When I started telling my corporate friends about Uber, it was because of the adversity they were facing in the taxi industry and how they overcame it. I didn’t tell people about it because I found another way to book a taxi.
If you think about other startups in your industry, the chance of them having the exact same compelling story as you is very unlikely. The chance of another business having a product for the same market as yours is quite high. In the case of Steve Jobs, his story was always very compelling because he understood how to keep things simple. He didn’t talk about how an iPod could store 160gB of songs, he talked about how it could store 40,000 songs, which was much less technical and helped him talk to a broader audience.
To see just how many companies don’t understand the art of storytelling and why so many of them don’t stand out, just go to the about us page of 10 websites. You will notice that the vast majority have a very similar story and it’s very short. You should do the opposite and aim to tell as much of your story as you can with text, video and photos. To avoid making the mistake that cooperates make, focus on leaving out the jargon and cutting out the acronyms that most of your audience won’t get. This is what will set you apart.
If you want an amazing compelling story then listen to Wes Chapman talk about why he created A Human Life. It’s so powerful and inspiring that you instantly want to know more about his startup. Find a way to tell your story in the same way and you could have a similar effect. Wes leaves nothing out and talks about how he was molested and the struggles he had as a child.