Your Business Story Must Match your Actions

Your business story is a promise you must deliver on.

 If you’re telling a story about the business and it doesn’t hold true in the interactions your customers have with you, don’t bother with the creative exercise.

A story is more than just your About Us Page. It needs to be part of every communication and action. Think of it as the base of your soup. You can add all sorts of things that will alter the flavor slightly but deep down it should still be the same base and this base should be communicated to every member of your staff.

Boil it down to the simplest of terms.

Then make sure your staff knows:

Our story is about …”superior customer service.” ….”best quality on the market”…”fastest delivery time anywhere.”

Knowing your story with help your staff make decisions that benefit the business and the customer.

 

When Stories are Just That

My windshield had a crack in it. Coincidentally, I was at the mechanic. A glass company approached me to fix it. I scheduled an appointment. They failed to give me a card. I failed to ask for one.

On my scheduled day of service it poured all day. I had no way of contacting them. I went to their website for contact information.

They boasted about excellent customer service and a worry-free process. I called the number. It was a personal voicemail, recording in an unprofessional way. I hung up and double checked the number.

I reached out to the mechanic, who tracked down the person who signed me up. We rescheduled for the following week. No suggestion about how inclement weather should be handled. Nothing but an appointment.

The next day, as I worked from home, the windshield guy showed up. According to my calendar, he wasn’t due for 5 days.

They assured me they would take care of all insurance claims (remember the worry-free process claim?). Two days later I realize they filed the claim but forgot to give my insurance company any details on their business, leaving me having to provide all of the information anyway.

While things turned out fine, albeit a little aggravating, my experience does not match their story of great customer service and doing it all for me. Because I don’t believe their story, and marketing claims, I don’t trust them and will most likely not refer friends there.

If you want your business to excel, and receive word-of-mouth referrals, you must make sure your business story resonates throughout the entire customer experience.

If not, it’s just creative writing.

Writing Can’t be Multitasked

Writers write at Wild Acres Retreat in North Carolina #writing

 

I started off this month at a summer camp for writers in North Carolina. While it was respectfully entitled a “writer’s workshop/conference” it felt a lot like summer camp – having a roomie, eating meals together, and geeking out over writing.

Every one of these writers was serious. They weren’t dabblers. Some had been published multiple times, some still working towards it, but all of us were honing our craft.

The one piece of advice that sticks out is writers write.

  Writers write. –Overheard at Wild Acres Writers’ Conference

You won’t ever get your blog post done if your derriere’s not in the seat. Writing is NOT a multitasking assignment. The only way to get it done is to do it.

But I understand writing is time-consuming. Even for someone like me who feels drawn to do it, I struggle to do it outside of work. My unfinished novel feels very unloved and ignored most days.

While I can’t help get you in the seat (hiring me to write for you is one way around that), I can help make things easier for you once you’re there. Here’s an article I wrote recently about how creating a content library can help you become a more efficient content producer.

 

Establish Your Business With Helpful Content

Telling your business story allows you to attract the right audience and connect with them. Help your audience with your contentBut attraction won’t keep them coming back.

Content will.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the most effective content is:

  • educational (telling someone how to do something)
  • informative (providing information they didn’t know)
  • entertaining

Here’s an example of a great piece I received from Hipmunk. It contains information that is relevant to me (I like to travel, but I’m cheap as all get out), educational (tells me I can save money if I buy now) and informative (I didn’t know airfares went up that much approaching July 4th).

Will this content motivate me to buy?

I suppose it would if I was planning a trip over the July 4th holiday, but I’m not. However, this is not a wasted marketing effort on Hipmunk’s part. Because they shared some valuable, helpful information with me, I am now beginning to see them as a resource for saving money.

They used their data and presented me with easy-to-digest information.

Well done.

 

Is Your Business Story Hanging Out with the Wrong Crowd?

In addition to being engaging and memorable, business stories serve as a guest list for your business. A well told business story communicates the kind of person you want at your party/business. If you don’t keep your audience in mind when crafting your story, you’re bound to attract the wrong crowd.

Your Audience is Part of Your Story

Writers frequently refer to their audience as co-creators of their story. The same can be said of an engaging business story.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about living the life you want to live. You have to do something that you enjoy. – Andy Freeman” 

Your story must resonate with your ideal customer to be effective.

Busch Beer and the Earned Approach

Take a look at this 2014 campaign by Busch Beer. The product isn’t even mentioned until the end frame.

 

Busch is appealing to the working man – the people who earn a drink at the end of a hard day. Its target audience is not customers who want a craft beer experience or those who squeeze fruit into their beers. They sell affordable, mass-produced beer and tell a story that appeals to the people who consume it. It’s one of hard work, community and grit.

They also don’t do it alone. Busch invites its viewers (and drinkers) to share their stories via social media.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company – Hops and Adventure

Compare Busch’s story with this beer maker:

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s story tells of how the founder followed his dreams. It incorporates powerful images of the adventurous spirit and implies these are people of means who have time and funding for exploration. It captures the beauty in nature and forgoes the grittiness. SNB appeals to people who drink beer for taste and give thought to how it’s made.

Two very different audiences with noticeable differences in the storytelling.

Both capture the ideal of being true to yourself and your interests but Busch does it in an approach that highlights a man following his boyhood dream. SNB’s company story highlights a man following his dream too but in a more adventurous exploratory way, with less focus on the amount of work and more focus on the experience.

By telling your story, you are also controlling who you are inviting in (to sample and purchase your product). In Marketing 101, you learn if you sell high end race cars, there’s no point in targeting the every man. He won’t/can’t buy from you.  The same holds true of your story. Your story should be evocative and resonate with your ideal customer.

It’s not enough to tell a meaningful, interesting story. You must keep your target audience – and what they relate to –  in mind, otherwise there’s no telling who will show up.

 

To Tell a Good Story You Have to Listen

If you pick up a book on how to write or tell a story, somewhere in it will be the following advice:

Listen.

From a fiction standpoint, listening is a great way to capture and understand dialogue. You can also steal find some interesting stories when you listen to others.

But in today’s social media rich world, if you’re telling your business story, listening becomes much more than that. 

Listening becomes a way to connect with people, build relationships and scout new prospects.

Like most writers, I have a dual professional persona. I write for clients helping to tell their stories and I write for myself, telling mine.

Recently I came across a writing conference I was considering. Truth be told, I’m always coming across writing conferences I’m thinking about attending but this one was economical, well-known and located in the heart of the publishing world. I did what any normal writer in today’s world would do – I tweeted my possible interest, including the @name for the organization hosting the conference.

 

That was three weeks ago and crickets.

 

This organization is much larger than I am and I have no doubt they will sell out on this conference but compare that to a conversation I had with another writer’s conference organizer.

I phoned her to find out if my favorite living author still had room in his session. Not only did I get an answer to my question but we talked about him and his latest book. We laughed about how writers always think every story they write will turn into a major motion picture. We wonder if we’ll have any say into the casting.

Writers are dreamers. If I had more of an entrepreneurial spirit, I would host a joint conference for writers and people who play the lottery all the time. I digress. She gave me…

 

Personalized attention.

 

So which one am I attending?

Is that even a question?

 

You cannot form a relationship or “kinship,” as Gini Dietrich refers to it in her book Spin Sucks, without listening. Listening in person, listening online, being present in conversations. We’ve received a gift in that it’s easy to hear when someone is talking about us on social media. If you get labeled as someone who doesn’t listen you’ll find fewer people are interested in being a part of your story.

 

If you want to tell a good story, you have to listen.