Tips on Telling your Business Story from Successful Writers

When I suggest telling your business story I hear a lot of grumbling. While the cause is partly lack of understanding as to who they are or who they hope to be (aside from successful), some people are just hesitant because they think they can’t write.

Telling your story is not about writing. It’s about encapsulating who you are as a business (and the people/person behind it) in a medium your audience will consume.

Still feeling nervous about storytelling? These great writers can help:

“I myself am made entirely out of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” -Augusten Burroughs

If you’re not going to tell an honest story, don’t tell one. Conflict is what makes a story so don’t be afraid to tell of your failures. Think of them as flavoring, without a little spice, there’s not a memorable finish.

“This moment will be just another story someday.” – Stephen Chbosky

We can only hope that what we are dong at this moment is material for a great story.

“The world is a story we tell ourselves about the world.” -Vikram Chandra

Your business story is more than how you came to be. It’s about who you want to be.

Do you sell to pampered pets? Or do you want to be known as the working man’s something? Your story must convey this. Just as a novelist would pick a genre and write accordingly, tell your story in a way that appeals to your target audience and speaks their language.

Your business story becomes who you are to the world.

“Have your adventures, make your mistakes, and choose your friends poorly – all these make for great stories.” -Chuck Palahniuk

Your business failures will later become the grit of your stories. They will be the glue your customers adhere to, if you own up and admit to them.

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” – Brandon Sanderson

When writing your business story the phrase, “This is why you should buy…” should never come into it.

The story is a courtship of the customer.

That’s why a lot of marketers hate this method. It’s slow. It’s patient. You must woo the customer, court them. Never order them to do something. Lure them. Seduce them and they won’t want to leave.

What’s your story?

 

 

Advice for Emerging Association Professionals

As someone who has been in the association space for about half a decade now, here is my advice for the upcoming generation. In addition to this video, I wrote a blog post about the importance of telling your story as a young professional.

http://youtu.be/o6GwmtUpRig

If video’s not your thing, here’s the transcript of my advice to the emerging young professional.

 

Although the comedian in me really wanted to leave the original transcript at YouTube transcribed it, I did in the end, edit it to the best of my recollection. If there’s something slightly amiss, please forgive the error.

 

Hi. I’m Christina Green and I’m a freelance writer and marketer for associations, chambers of commerce and small businesses.

Here’s my advice to you emerging young professional:

 

Take advantage of the time you have now. I know you don’t feel like you have any time that you’re so stressed with work and you come home and just want to relax but 15 years from now you’re going to have responsibilities you haven’t even dreamed of yet so take advantage of the time that you have now.

 

    • Join the groups you’re interested in, spend your time thinking about what you want to do in your career.

 

    • Gaining the knowledge that would be necessary. I know that you’ve just graduated from school and it seems like you just got done educating yourself what more do you have to do? But let me tell you, the way things are moving with social media and new technologies constantly changing, you have to be in charge of your own education. It’s a very rare organization that’s going to come to you and ask you to you learn more about a topic. To be a vital and contributing part of this market you need to constantly be on top of the technologies that are out there and the different ways of doing things. No one’s going to do that for you. You need to take that upon yourself, which brings me back to time.

 

  • If somebody asks you to take on a special project, something that could be the beginning of a huge opportunity for you, don’t tell them they’re gonna have to wait until the weekend or they’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks because it’s a pretty stressful time (for you) at work right now and you just don’t know when it’s going to happen. Give them an exact date that they can expect that deadline or that product to be produced or that service to be rendered and then beat (due date).

Now is the time to wow people. Now is the time to knock them on their tukus.

You have the time work hard. Do it. I know you can. That’s my advice to you emerging professional.

Telling Your Story as a Young Association Professional

tell your story whatever it is
Photo credit: via Flickr by Evan, Photo Extremist

While I am a firm believer that a memoir is probably not the right fit for a ten year-old looking to publish a book, telling your story is not something to put off until you’re middle-aged. Your story is part of your personal brand and can help you stand out in a sea of people who are equally exuberant and equally without relevant job history.

When I was asked a few weeks ago to put together a post about advice I would give a young association professional, my first reaction was “to make the most of your time” because as you age it not only goes faster but you have less of it. Making the most of your time means: joining groups; experimenting with different projects and tasks to find out what you’re really skilled at and what you like; keeping your skills up-to-date by taking control of your own personal development – a diploma doesn’t mean the learning is complete; starting that novel now versus later…you get the idea.  

You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. – The Breakfast Club

But I would also add that it’s important while you’re doing these things to examine who you are, where you came from and what makes you unique. Think of the college entrance essays you wrote about what inspires you or shaped you. Use those things to tell your story.

 

Questions/Tips for Creating and Telling Your Story

  • Think about when you’re happiest. What does that say about you?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • If Hollywood told your story, who would they cast to play you and what parts of your life would they highlight?
  • Think about what the market wants/needs right now and answer how you can fill it based on your life experiences.

Keep in mind that employers, networkers, peers will all see you as they see any other recent grad – ready to take on the world with no practical experience with which to do so.

 

Stand out from the crowd.

Tell them who you are.

Don’t wait for them to decide.

Tell your story.

 

There was a lot of great advice on the topic. I encourage you to read:

Sarah Hill – MemberClicks

Deidre Reed – www.deidrereed.com

Lowell Aplebaum – Association 141 blog

Shelly Alcorn Association Subculture blog

KiKi L’Italien – Aptify and Acronym Soup blog

 

How to Ruin Your Business Story

Many folks are still afraid to tell their story. They’re worried they’ll say/write something wrong or something that will be offensive. Maybe. That’s always possible but that’s probably not how you’re going to ruin your story. now entering storyville

Most people will not ruin their story through:

  • taking a stand
  • bad writing (Come on. There’s more of that than there is good.)
  •  telling the wrong story
  • having a story that’s similar to another’s

Nope. It’s much simpler than that.

 

Most Businesses Ruin Their Story By…

 

being bland. They think they’re telling a story but the things they include in their story are what I refer to as blah details. Blah details are details no one has any emotional attachment to. I wrote a post on how they’ll ruin your storytelling.

Many moons ago when I was in school, my high school history teacher talked about the “rally around the flag” effect. These are the concepts that cause people to come together. They are the “mom” and “apple pie” type ideals that most of the population shares an affinity for. (Please don’t tell me you hate pie. It’s merely figurative.)

 

These concepts apply to storytelling. There are several stories that resonate with Americans.

  • The underdog achieving greatness such as a poor child graduating at the top of her class or an unemployed steelworker winning the lottery
  • A happy ending (particularly in romance) where someone’s struggles are rewarded
  • A good heart (or bad one) getting what it deserves like a hardworking waitress receiving a monstrous tip from an unknown benefactor

 

How can you use the truths in your business?

Think about the obstacles you’ve overcome. Think about the details that make you different from everyone else. Now think about what you have in common with everyone else.

 

Wait, what?

 

The ideal story will unite you with your audience, having them rooting for you or siding with you, but be unique enough that people will repeat it. It will stick with them.

Things that unite people are struggles. Everyone has them. When you’re giving voice to your struggles and what you’ve overcome make sure you give enough details that your story, while it resonates with your audience, does not sound like every other small business.

You don’t have to only highlight struggles. You can also highlight what you believe strongly in.

 

Example: Summer reminds me of the joy of half-melted Italian ice dripping down my chin. My grandmother bought this special treat from the corner grocery store; the tiny kind of shop you’re careful not to turn around in too fast in fear that you’ll knock down a pyramid of tomato sauce jars. I don’t know if that kindly grocer sold it to us for a quarter because that was what it cost or because he just loved to watch us enjoy it. His gentle smile and laugh made us feel like his best customers. He was my first experience with a local, small business owner and thirty years later his generosity and appreciation for his customers inspires my business.

 

You probably won’t ruin your business story by being controversial. You’ll ruin it by speaking of things that have no identifiable meaning. I like the outdoors is not a story. In fact, it’s not even interesting. It’s not interesting because it’s lacking meaningful details. What exactly is the outdoors? Do you like the snow? The sun? The surf? Add that. Now go deeper. Why? When did you notice this?

 

Paint a picture. Cast a line. Invite your customer in.

 

Need some help telling your story?

 

photo credit: BCPL photo

 

Why Stories Work for Business

You’ve heard a lot about content marketing and storytelling for business recently. It’s all the rage and people are either talking about how to do it, thinking about it, lamenting the fact they don’t think they can do it or complaining they’re too scared to do it.

But any way you look at it storytelling and business has become big business. Here’s why:storytelling for business

People relate to stories

We have a natural need to connect. Regardless of backgrounds, there are certain story lines and personas we all relate to.

We understand conflict and wait to hear how it will be resolved. There’s a natural build to a story and we recognize it.

We also place ourselves in a story and imagine how things would’ve worked out had we been a part of it. If we enjoy the story, we want to be a part of it.

Stories stick with us

Stories are memorable. Long after the teller’s name has escaped us, we remember the story. We remember the bit of themselves that they shared with us.

The story may even prompt us to reach out in the future or use it as a conversation opener the next time we interact with the teller.

Stories evoke emotion

A good story moves us. It brings out emotion. We laugh, we cry, we seek justice. Emotion persuades. Purchases are based on emotion, not logical thinking.

Stories get repeated

Everyone enjoys a good story and because they stick with us, we are apt to repeat them. Our audience becomes the storyteller for a new audience.

Stories help you target your ideal customer

Crafting your story helps target the people you want to do business with. Many businesses are afraid to tell their story because they worry people won’t want to do business with them. Good. That’s the point. Unless you have an absolutely terrible story, someone will identify with it. Crafting it in a way that appeals to your target market will help you convert your ideal customer while leaving others on the wayside. Why spend “selling” time and money on someone who is not your ideal?

Telling Your Business’ Story

Telling your story is easy. It’s about capturing the passion of what makes you unique and sharing it in a socially acceptable way. You can do it through words, images, voice or video. But why choose?

People want to buy from people they know and can identify with. I won’t do business with someone whose story is diametrically opposed to my own.

Connections are becoming increasingly important. If you’re not giving them the time they need to be built and nurtured, you will see your customer base eroding as your competition begins to understand the importance of a good story.

 

Photo credit: via Flickr by Janet 59

 

The image is a story telling chair. While it’s beautiful in its simplicity, your business needs something more conducive to conversation.