How Storytelling Makes More than Marketing Come Alive

If you have not already, you can expect to be hearing more about storytelling as a means for communicating your business message.

Storytelling is one of the cornerstones of sales and marketing, because great stories are memorable, and therefore, readily shared.

Every business interaction with a prospective buyer or customer is a potential story. That’s right, stories about your business are already being shared. Isn’t it time to take a more proactive approach to contribute to the conversation?

Stories are media, and media is media, regardless of the source. This is why every business must become a media company to better manage its story within the communities it serves.

What I’m going to share with you today is that your business can actually use storytelling as a means for accomplishing goals beyond marketing to shape future events that become signature stories.

See the Story Within the Project or Opportunity

During the early days of my landscape architecture and construction business our company was unknown. In order to establish our presence within the industry and local community, we set a goal to complete at least one award-winning project.

One day, we were invited to discuss the renovation of a residential landscape that was such a mess, all of the other contractors walked away from it. As our team considered potential solutions, I got excited because I was beginning to realize that if we could transform this project into an award-winner there would be a great story to tell.

In business and life, you can let chance write your stories, or you can design an ideal result and get to work to make it happen. That’s what we did. It’s a simple practice of starting with the end in mind, and then building the sequential events to manifest that reality.

To accomplish this, we repeatedly asked ourselves one question: Why?

When everything has a purpose it just makes sense. Isn’t that what your prospective customers are looking for from you?

For example, we suggested a gentle water feature and stream for the back yard to create a sense of movement and flow that would naturally guide the eye through the space to the desired focal points. Our client rejected this idea because their dogs would play in the water.

After further consideration, we realized a dry stream (without water) would work equally well. They loved the idea. As a result, whenever a friend asked about the stream built from smooth, water-worn stones, our client shared the story that explained its purpose.

Consumers are attracted to not only what works, but also why, because then everything intuitively makes sense.

Stories Transform Goals into Reality

To succeed with your project, you have to first live the desired result in your mind as if it were real. The story for creating that reality will lead you to the necessary solutions for making it happen. It will identify the challenges that must be overcome.

We did indeed win the highest award possible for that particular project, and many more thereafter, because we always had a story to tell. I’m convinced that first imagining the story that would then become the focus of our marketing is what made it possible.

Facts and even pretty photos are easily forgotten without stories that make emotional connections. Our story captured the drama and imagination of how our team worked to delight our client, and that connected with the panel of judges.

Of course, the panel of judges for your business and mine is every prospective customer that wants to know more about us. Your business may have great solutions, but if you can make them come alive by answering why, you also have a memorable story that resonates with the buyer.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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How To Use Technology for Its Highest and Best Use

For many of us, a standard calculator was our first introduction to technology.

Therefore, it’s understandable why we still use technology predominantly for the purpose of automating mundane tasks such as mathematical functions, when we can be accomplishing so much more.

This past week I attended a conference hosted by Infusionsoft, a sales and marketing platform designed for small businesses. I quickly learned something.

 The use of technology is limited only by your imagination for what to accomplish. Tweet this

In only the last ten years, technology has dramatically changed how every business operates. Thanks to cloud computing, social networks, and virtual staffing, we now should all be asking ourselves an important question: How can my business better use these technologies for their highest and best use?

The answer is actually very simple.

Focus on The Human Fundamentals

For sales and marketing professionals, one can argue our greatest value to those we serve is being helpful and easy to work with. What that means for your business may differ from others, so let’s find some universal parameters we can all use.

Most of us learned at an early age that you can increase the chances of getting what you want if you learn to play well with others. In a business context, this can be reduced to this.

Fundamental Human Business Practices

1. Show up on time
2. Do what you say
3. Finish what you start
4. Say please and thank you

Now consider that technology can help you automate these practices to earn more business.
Whatever you can schedule you can automate. This includes email and social media.

The challenge is using that automation in new ways to convey the essential human qualities of your business. Here are just a few resources you may find helpful.

To be sure, unless you send out hand-written notes or cards, your audience will suspect that your thank you is automated. However, if you write it to be personal and genuine, it will nevertheless accomplish its objective well, and certainly better than no thank you at all.

In my mind, nothing is complete without a thank you. Therefore, I’m examining all of my processes to ensure that I am doing so at every turn. This will address item numbers 3 and 4 above. How about the others?

Well, nothing puts a customer at ease better than setting professional expectations. For example, as I’m writing this I received a text reminding me about a doctor appointment later this week. The reminder included the address, pointers about showing up early to complete paperwork, and that they have “reserved this appointment especially for you.” Nice touch!

If you focus on the human qualities that differentiate your business, you will no doubt find ways for using technology for its highest and best use.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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How Your Business Can Help Its Ideal Customers

Do you understand the primary problems that challenge your ideal customers? If your business is intensely focused on relationships, then it is continually learning about the most relevant problems for which it can be the solution. To attract new customers, they must immediately know your business understands their problems, and can offer relevant solutions for […]

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