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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%
Positive88%92%93%78%
Neutral81%81%69%29%
Negative39%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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Lawrence Berry

    May 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Storytelling will and always be one of the biggest emotional connectors. Public speakers utilize stories to help relay a message to their audience because, done right, it can have an impact that lasts more than just the duration of that speech. I remember going to one of Eric Thomas talks and he told the story that sprung about his slogan “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe slogan”. I can’t forget the inspirational feeling it brought me.

  2. Mark Evans

    May 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I would add that stories are the way that brands build authentic and deeper connections with consumers. Stories put the spotlight on the consumer experience, rather than the product (which is an alien concept for many brands.)

    Mark

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How to Create a Winning Startup Culture

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Some time back, in my infographic on 51 Business Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs Make, I had outlined that one of the biggest mistakes is that you do not give any thought as to what you consider would be a great startup culture. And, without good policies or HR to keep things in check, the startup begins to develop a toxic business culture. (more…)

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51 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dream Startup

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So you’ve got an idea. You know it will work. And, it means the world to you.

You are an entrepreneur and you think you can rock the world with this one idea that matters to you the most. And, you set out to form the idea into a startup that you are going to nurture and develop into a blooming business in the upcoming years.

However, I don’t want to throw water over your dreams but, I do need to bring this “optimist” you into the hard and cold reality…….. the reality which says that 90% of all startups fail.

Of course, this can bring a great deal of uncertainty into your life and you got to be prepared to deal with it. You are also going to face a ton of challenges in your life which will force you to grow as an entrepreneur. But, the important thing is that you stick with it.

Of course, as Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s friend) once said, “All I Want to Know is Where I’m Going to Die So I’ll Never Go There”. No entrepreneurs want their startups to fail after putting in days and weeks of effort into it.

So, a lot of research has been put forward into knowing what does actually sabotage a startup?

Fortune reported that the single biggest reason startups fail was because they do not identify what the market wants before setting up their startup.

However, it isn’t as simple as that. An entrepreneur needs to perform a comprehensive business plan before he sets out with his business idea. Also, you have to know whether your business idea actually suits you or not. If it doesn’t then, you either you need to fine-tune yourself with your business idea or you need to change the business plan so that it suits you.

And, it is only after that, should you venture upon your startup.
Now, is that all? Of course not. The problem most entrepreneurs face when they first begin their entrepreneurial journey is that they don’t know what they don’t know.

That’s where they tend to make a series of mistakes that may cause great harm to their startup.

That’s why I scoured for successful entrepreneurs to provide me with information on what they think were the most common mistakes that startups do. Plus, I also got tips on how to avoid these mistakes.

You can check out the original article here: 70 Mistakes Startups Make And Tips On How You Can Avoid Them

Now, it’s your turn to do some work. Let me know what you thought of these mistakes and tips that entrepreneurs commit. Do you know of any other mistakes that entrepreneurs do? Comment below!

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8 Key Factors That Discourage Investors From Putting Money Into Your Startup

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Today’s ideas are tomorrow’s winning businesses. Ideas executed brilliantly and with proper investment bring your business success. That is how the world of business got the likes of Apple, Google, McDonald’s, Amazon and so on.

But why in spite of the brilliant and promising ideas at the core of their business, many startups fail to attract investors? Why do investors hesitate to put their money into some startups? Well, investors have reasons and only by deciphering these reasons we could get hold of some deterrent factors that hold them back.

Let us explain some of the vital factors that prevent investors from putting their money in the startups below:

1. Inefficiency or Absence of Leadership Qualities

Inefficiency is the most significant deterrent factor for pulling the success of most startups. This can also be referred to as the lack of leadership qualities. Investors always want to make sure that they don’t lose their money through a company that has an extraordinary business model but no efficient and skilled business leader to make it successful. When fetching investment from investors, you need to offer a clear prospect and detailed plan of how you are going to achieve the goals.

2. Lack of Trustworthiness

An investor puts his money on a venture purely on the basis of the credibility and trustworthiness of the business. This is why besides having a sound business plan with clear objectives, you need to establish the integrity in terms of the security of the investor’s money and how the fund is going to be invested to give results as per business plan.

If an investor has a feeling that the startup may not have enough customers to fulfil its financial liabilities or if it finds that the business is hiding some information, it may further push the trust of the investors down. Total transparency and establishing the faith of the business brand are crucial for finding investors in favor.

3. Lacking Experience in Business Management

You have a great business idea backed up by a sound business plan and solid trustworthiness based on your background, but you have zero experience in managing a business. This is a serious reason for an investor to deny making any investment in your business. An investor cannot put his money just to allow you trying and learning your management skills the harder and riskier way. Uncertainty is the single biggest turn-off factor for any investor and lack of managerial experience is synonymous to that.

4. Business Model is Not Sound Enough

You have a business idea, some efficient, competent and experienced professionals as leaders, the great stamp of trust and pretty much everything that make a company look promising. But what about your business strategy and business model? Are they sound enough to take on the market competition and challenges for business growth? Well, this is what investors are most interested in.

In most cases, a business model is what makes an investor think twice and even take a backward step from investing in a startup. After all, your business model and strategy will decide how your business and products will be able to withstand competition and become victorious.

5. Taking Investors for Granted

This is a big mistake on the part of many startups. Just by becoming confident in the potential and the soundness of the business model and prospect, a business can consider getting investors on board requires just a little effort and time. But in reality, getting investors on board is the toughest thing a business can think of.

This is why without proper and meticulous preparation, it would be foolish to approach investors for your business. Most investors receive hundreds of such emails and a similar number of approaches through other means and they coldly just let them pass. This is why you need to send them very detailed proposals backed by strong recommendations and referrals.

6. Targeting the Wrong Investor

Every business has a target customer base, right? Not all customers are interested in every product in the market. Similarly, not all investors are interested in your business. Investors based on their prior experience and industry exposure, put their money in businesses that they know like their own palm of their hand.

So, targeting an investor who has no interest in your business will only drain your energy and bring you unnecessary frustration. When you are seeking investors for your software startup, don’t approach someone investing in real estate business.

7. Non-Realistic Proposal for Funds

Investors normally come with huge experience of your industry and so they have a clear idea about the fund requirements for your business startup. Moreover, they already have invested in other ventures or have gone through many proposals. Naturally, they have every bit of estimate already in their mind. So, any proposal claiming a lofty and unrealistic amount will only face rejection.

This is why it would be wise to become meticulous about your estimation of the required fund and calculation of various cost factors. Have meticulous details about every facet of investment backed up by breakup of the costs. Only when you can convince them with correct estimation, investors can take interest in discussing the matter further.

8. Make Sure Your Product Solves a Customer Problem

Will any investor put money in building a simple calendar app now? No, simply because such an app idea has no value for the end users now. Will an investor put money in a product that has already been outdated and has no use? No, no investor has to even go through such a proposal for dismissing them.

Well, to fetch investment, your product must be thoroughly customer-centric. It not only has to solve a problem but has to deliver some competitive value in comparison to similar products in the market.

Obviously, finding an investor for a new business is not an easy task, considering the huge competition that businesses need to deal with. But, if your business idea is unique and you fill all those requirements correctly as mentioned above, finding investors may not be as tough as it sounds.

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5 Must Have Branding Tools for Your Startup

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Your brand is more than just the colors on your website. And for startups, it’s important to create a strong and memorable brand from the beginning if you want to stand out from the competition, scale your company, and find your ideal customers faster.

Here are 5 simple tools that will help your company avoid branding mistakes, take charge of your visual identity, and set a solid foundation for future growth:

1. Graphic Design Software

The word “design” doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before deciding on your startup’s logo, colors, designs, and overall tone, consider working with a brand strategist who can translate the core ingredients of your startup into a visual identity that speaks to your target market.

Brand strategists have expertise in the psychology of colors, shapes, textures, and words, and they will work with you to make sure that your branding appeals to your target audience. Once you have those basics of your brand established, there are several tools that can help your company refresh and maintain your visual identity.

The absolute best graphic design tool for non-designers is Canva. While the free version has a lot of functionality, the paid plans offer more customization such as the ability to import your exact brand fonts and colors.

But if your company handles all of your design in-house, you will need something more advanced than Canva. In that situation, I would recommend Adobe Creative Cloud to startups who work on their designs in-house, as it includes top-notch design software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, and more.

“Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room – Jeff Bezos

2. Visuals & Creative Imagery

Have you ever wondered where your competitors get those beautiful branded photographs that end up on their website? While it’s possible that they worked with a photographer, it’s also likely that much of their imagery comes from stock photos.

Here are my recommendations on the exact places to purchase stock imagery to improve your company’s branding:

  • Creative Market – A treasure trove of quality visual imagery where you can buy anything from stock photos, to branding mockups, to social media templates (Facebook cover photo, anyone?), to custom fonts… the options are nearly endless.
  • Adobe Stock – Beloved by designers, and the platform offers tiered pricing plans based on your image needs and download quantity.
  • Pixels – If you’re on a tight budget and just need to grab an image or two for a blog post, you may be able to find what you need on Pixels – which is great because all of the photos and videos on Pixels are free!

3. Social Media Scheduler

You’re a leader. You’re an entrepreneur. Your staff, board, funders, and admirers depend on you to make big decisions, lead the ship, and plot the vision towards your company’s future. You don’t have time to stare at a blank screen every day wondering what to post on Facebook.

By using a social media scheduling tool, you can sit down for a few hours, schedule batches of content, and schedule the dates and times when it will post to your accounts over the next couple of months. Then, once the content is posted, you only need to worry about responding to comments and engaging with your customers. 21st century efficiency at its finest.

Popular social media schedulers include Buffer and Hootsuite, both of which include free and paid plans. Not sure what exactly to post? Check out these social media ideas from influential businesses. And if the idea of writing and planning months of content still overwhelms you, our next tool will help you stay organized and on-brand.

4. Editorial Calendar

When it comes to your content, it’s time to step it up a notch and start thinking like a media outlet. Every piece of content that you put out as a company, whether it’s an e-mail blast, blog post, social media post, podcast, or video, needs to be aligned with your brand.

Each major magazine maintains an editorial calendar which outlines the overarching theme for each of the upcoming 12+ months. By establishing a monthly content theme in advance, they create a framework to generate and organize their ideas.

Consider creating an internal editorial calendar that will guide your startup’s content over the next 6-12 months. The software tool you use to maintain your editorial calendar isn’t that important — I like to use Trello, but you can also create a simple numbered list in Google Docs or Microsoft Excel. You may be surprised at how quickly the creative juices flow once you have an editorial calendar in place.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand

5. In-Person Networking

Offline efforts count towards your branding too! And if you run your entire startup from behind your laptop screen, you miss out on ample opportunities to build your business offline and gain local referral partners.

If you’re new to in-person networking, start by visiting Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com where you can browse for events in your area. Think outside the box when it comes to selecting events to attend. For example: If you’re a chiropractor, it makes sense to attend local holistic health meetups. But you could also attend a travel event and meet digital nomads who don’t yet realize that a chiropractor can help them recover after long plane rides.

Remember that you’re not at the networking event to make instant sales, you’re looking for referral partners and connections. Don’t be the person who tries to shove your sales pitch down everyone’s throat upon meeting them.

As you can see, there are many simple online and offline resources that can help you spruce up your branding, reach new customers, and pique the interest of your target market. If you take branding one step at a time and start with the tools above, you will be well on your way to creating a brand that your customers will cherish and remember.

Have you used any of these branding tools before? Are there any additional tools that have helped your startup’s branding shine? Share your thoughts below!

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