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3 Ways That Storytelling Is A Startups Secret Weapon

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3 Ways Storytelling Is A Startups Secret Weapon

Storytelling is a tool that small companies can use against their bigger, deeper pocketed competitors.

Small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs can tell powerful stories that drive recall, emotion, and character that can lead to awareness and ultimately sales.  

Since the beginning of time, stories have been told, yet only recently is storytelling making a comeback.

Here are 3 ways that stories can help you:

 

1. Stories provide a framework to remember

Throughout civilization, stories were used to pass on culture, history, and knowledge from one generation to the next.  With few tools to record their stories, humans have mastered the art of storytelling and our brains have adapted to accommodate story’s format.

Today stories can be used for the narrative effects, which enable and jog people’s memories.  For example, in the memory memoir, Moonwalking with Einstein, memory experts can create a specific story enabling them to recall hundreds, even thousands, of playing cards in order, simply by mapping story elements to individual suits and values.

Even “normal” people will never forget the candy that E.T. the extra terrestrial, followed out of the woods, as being Reese’s Pieces.  Technology has allowed us to forget certain brand names, but with enough story elements, Google or Siri will be sure to connect the last mile for you.

In today’s world of on demand wants and desires, being able to communicate these elements is essential to your customers being able to know what to search for and how to connect.

“If you wish to influence an individual or a group to embrace a particular value in their daily lives, tell them a compelling story.” –Annette Simmons

2. Stories can be emotional and irrational

While data has always been important to advertising analytics, humans are much better at analyzing and evaluating stories than numbers. To illustrate, consider a study where students were told that they were suffering from terminal illness.

They were offered either the control drug, which is 50% effective, or one of four drugs effective 90%, 70%, 50%, and 30%. They were told one of three stories, positive (person took drug and was cured), neutral (person took drug and nothing happened), or negative (person took drug and got worse).

The results:

 

90% 70% 50% 30%
Positive 88% 92% 93% 78%
Neutral 81% 81% 69% 29%
Negative 39% 43% 15% 7%

 

The effect of the stories played a greater role than the actual data. Even though the 90% drug is more effective than the control drug, respondents chose the control drug when coupled with the negative story. Likewise, the 30% effective drug is chosen much more when coupled with the positive story.

The detail and humanization of the story had caused irrational behavior, which might work to your advantage when competing against a larger, better capitalized, or resource filled company.

Similarly, our aversion to numbers can be seen by how we understand the underlying mathematics and translate the numbers into actual outcomes.  The lottery, for example, provides a microscopic chance to win a large payout.  Buying a ticket barely moves the mathematical odds in your favor, but changes your story from no chance to a “one in a billion shot.”

On the other hand, some court cases with near obvious outcomes are sometimes settled out of court. Even if the chance of winning or receiving a payout is 99.99%. Settling out of court turns your payout into a “sure thing.” While a chance and a sure thing are easy to rationalize, it is hard to put a value on increasing your chances from 50% to 60%.

Numbers are much harder to translate into emotions, which sometimes drives decision-making.

“If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.” –Joseph Campbell

3. Stories allow brands to convey their values and change perspectives

Consumers are starting to value a brand’s story more and more: what does this brand stand for and what is important to them? Traditional advertising makes it difficult to convey these various angles, while stories can provide color and insight into the character of a company.

Story provides the “why” whereas traditional advertising is the “what.” The social responsibility stories of fashion accessories Warby Parker and Tom’s Shoes have made them mainstream. The human interest stories in Charity Water and Smile Train have brought them more awareness and new donors. The magical stories of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg, told through Hollywood’s lens, have catapulted them to legends.

The lens through which a story is told also affects the perspective desired.  Stories like Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” demonstrate that the storyteller has much power in persuading what the viewers believe.

By telling your personal vulnerable story, you humanize your company and gain fans that want to see you succeed.

Storytelling
 


Stories are an amazing tool that any size company can use.They can help you remember, make things easier to understand, inspire you, and humanize your brand.

The amazing thing about stories is that money, size, resources, and stature are independent of the quality of the story and thus, it is truly David’s slingshot against Goliath.

Roger Wu is the co-founder of sponsored content marketplace, Cooperatize, where influential publishers write about your brand. He’s written a number of stories for Forbes, Quartz, and Mediapost and is on Twitter and Medium at @rogerwu99.  You can find more stories about content at @cooperatize.

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Startups

How to Avoid Startup Clichés and Buzzwords When Pitching Investors

Using jargon can make you sound like you’re trying to fill space instead of providing meaningful data

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How to pitch investors better

Entrepreneurs frequently seek startup funding through a variety of channels. Yet, none seem as challenging as successfully pitching to experienced investors. After all, investors are pressed for time and eager for opportunities. These characteristics make it challenging to motivate them, especially if you’re bombarding them with a pitch full of jargon. (more…)

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From Idea to Empire: 5 Power Moves for Your Startup to Thrive in Today’s Market

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial

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How to thrive in the startup market in 2024

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial.

A few months into the startup, I was quick to gauge why it is necessary to go beyond the nuances of operational efficiency and the art of sustaining a business amid growing competition.

Collaboration is key.

The HR and the recruiting teams work with departments to foster a culture of collaboration, but what’s indispensable to business performance is the sync between the marketing and sales teams. What we’d consider as entrepreneurs is the need to ensure seamless collaboration to predict and achieve business goals together. In turn, this will help secure long-term recurring revenue for the business.

Besides, entrepreneurs need to focus on revenue as they gear up to take their startup from $0 to $1 million. The journey is filled with critical decisions, from identifying your target customer base to choosing the right funding strategy.

So, what next?

Read on… because here are five practical, results-driven strategies that you as a founder can implement to make a mark in their industry.

#1. Embrace the Lean Methodology

What is lean methodology?

It is all about pivoting resources to create more value for customers with fewer resources. 

This principle encourages you to be more agile and allow rapid iteration based on customer feedback rather than spending years perfecting a product before it hits the market.

Want to implement it?

Here’s what you can do.

Build “Measure-Learn” Loop: What I did was develop a minimum viable product (MVP), a simple version of the product. You can do the same since it allows you to start the learning process as quickly as possible. After launching MVP, measure how customers use it and learn from their behaviors and feedback.

Here’s what I can recommend here:

  • Identify the core features that solve your customers’ primary needs and focus solely on those to develop your MVP.
  • Know the feedback channels where early users can communicate their experiences, suggestions, and complaints.
  • Analyze user behavior and feedback to make informed product development and iteration decisions.

#2. Focus on Customer Development

Let’s talk about taking our startup to the next level. 

It’s not just about getting customers – it’s about really getting to know them. We need to dive into their world, understand their struggles, and see how our product or service can make a difference in their lives. 

It’s like we’re detectives, piecing together the puzzle of our business hypothesis by actually chatting with our customers

What would you ideally do here?

Understand Customer Segments: I’d say, start dividing your target market into segments and develop a deep understanding of each segment’s demographics, behaviors, needs, and pain points. The idea is to get into their shoes and really feel what they feel.

Ensure your Product Clicks: When starting up, think of what you offer and consider whether it clicks with what our customers need. My thought was “Does my product solve their problems? Does it make their day better?” Put yourself through a tough grilling session to show customers the value proposition and ensure that the product’s promise matches what our customers are looking for.

I’d recommend the following actions here:

  • Talk to them – through surveys, interviews, or even casual chats. The goal? To gather real, raw insights about what they need and expect.
  • Use the collected data to create detailed profiles for each type of customer. This way, everyone on our team really understood we were serving. I think this should help your startup as well.
  • Try out different versions of our product with a few customer groups. It’s all about feedback here – understanding if you’re hitting the mark or if we need to pivot.

#3. Foster a Data-Driven Culture

The digital world is highly data driven since it fuels key decisions in a startup. 

I believe it’s essential for us to build a data-driven culture. This means, you’ll move from making decisions based on hunches or assumptions. Instead, the focus should be on data analytics and insights to guide our strategies and improve our outcomes.

What can you do?

Use Data Analytics Tools: You should be using these tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data related to customer behavior, market trends, and our business operations. Here, consider the adoption of pipeline forecasting that leverages AI to find patterns in marketing data. 

In turn, you’ll get areas for improvement since it can analyze historical data and predict the outcome for you to plan your.

Action Items:

  • Pinpoint key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives and ensure they are measurable and actionable.
  • Next, you can consider training your team to understand and use data analytics tools. This might involve workshops or bringing in experts to build a data-savvy workforce.
  • Once everything is in place, regularly review data reports and dashboards. This gives us a clear picture of a startup’s health and helps adjust your strategies and predict future trends.

#4. Strengthen Your Financial Acumen

A good grip on financial skills is important to steer your business towards growth and making sure it stays on track. For this, you’ll have to understand the money side of things, which helps you manage your cash flow. Think of figuring out smart investment moves and sizing up any risks that come your way.

Here’s a tip on how you can get savvy with your finances.

Maintain Rigorous Financial Discipline: I’m really focused on cultivating a strong company culture, one that truly resonates with our mission. So, I’d suggest fostering open communication and encouraging a sense of ownership and collaboration among everyone in the team.

Action Items:

  • Get to know your financial statements inside out – I’m talking about the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. These are like the vital signs for your business’s financial health
  • Use financial forecasting that helps predict your future money moves. With this, you will have a heads-up on upcoming revenues, expenses, and how much cash you’ll need. Also, research on the available financial forecasting tools that can make predictions spot-on.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Regularly touch base with financial advisors or mentors. With them by your side, you’ll have a fresh perspective on your financial strategies to ensure you’re on the right path to hit your business goals.

5. Prioritize Team Building and Leadership Development

It is crucial to focus on building a solid team and developing strong leaders. This means putting our resources into the people who are going to propel our company forward. 

What you’ll aim for here?

Creating a culture where everyone collaborates and every team member has the chance to emerge as a leader.

What I would do:

Cultivate a Strong Company Culture: This culture should mirror our mission and foster open communication. It’s important that it encourages everyone to feel a sense of ownership and work together.

Invest in Leadership and Team Development: As founders, we’ll have to make way for opportunities for teams to enhance their skills, face new challenges, and grow in their careers.

Some concrete steps that you should consider taking:

  • Begin with clearly communicating your startup’s vision, mission, and values so that every team member is on the same page.
  • Conduct regular team-building activities and workshops to boost skills and strengthen a sense of unity and collaboration.
  • How about starting a mentorship program within our organization? The more experienced team members could guide and support the growth of newer or less experienced folks.
  • Alas… encourage feedback at all levels. We should keep striving to create an environment where open, honest communication is the norm and everyone feels safe to speak up.

I know it’s one thing to get your head around these ideas and quite another to actually make them a part of your everyday business life. But that’s where the real magic happens, right? It’s all in the doing. 

As a startup founder, this means more than just being a big dreamer. How about rolling up your sleeves to be the planner who pays attention to the smallest details. Ultimately, these tips and more tactics around it will help carve a leader in you who listens and cares and the learner who’s always ready to adapt

So, as you’re either starting out or moving forward on this entrepreneurial adventure, keep these practical tips right there.

May these be your guiding lights, helping you steer through the wild and exciting world of building a startup that’s not just a dream, but a thriving reality.

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12 Things I Learned in 12 Months of Working on My Startup

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A few weeks ago I launched my startup. It took exactly 12 months from the initial idea until the moment I saw my app in the App Store. And these were some of the most challenging, fun and exciting 12 months of my whole life. (more…)

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8 Actionable Ways to Get Your Startup’s First 100 Customers

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What’s the one thing that every business wants? Is it money, fame, or endless resources? The answer is quite simple—customers. Having customers is the sure-shot way of ensuring that your business stays afloat in the long run. No matter how good your product or services are, without people buying what you sell, you won’t reach anywhere. However, establishing a customer base is one of the most challenging things a business has to do, especially if you are just starting. (more…)

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