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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Forget Goals – Plan for Being Happy in 2012

Do you really want to accomplish all of those goals you’ve lined up for this year? Honestly?

Or would you rather just be happy?

One of the problems with personal goal setting – as with business planning and budgeting, is the tendency to extrapolate from what was achieved the previous year to reach for a little more.

Worse yet is to intentionally overshoot what is attainable to provide an extra cushion because you fell short the last time around.

A better approach to goal setting is to simply ask yourself what will make you happy this year – then write down everything that comes to mind.

You’ll make some interesting discoveries.

Being Happy is More Honest than Goal Setting

Have you ever set a goal that was doomed from the moment you inked it? The reason is you probably picked it out of thin air with some kind of hope that it would make you happy – even though deep down you knew it wouldn’t.

When you ask yourself what will make you happy you add a giant dose of reality to the goal setting process.

A goal is a moment in time; whereas, happiness can last for a period of time. In other words, it’s something you can really buy into.

Happiness is the tangible result that comes from achieving the goal.

This is why focusing on what will make you happy allows you tap into your emotions and feelings to find the honesty that is necessary to commit to achieving something worthwhile.

Little Successes Make a Big Difference

When I went through this process, I discovered that in addition to big goals, there are a number of little things I’d like to do that are easily attainable. Their accomplishment will no doubt provide the fuel that will sustain my efforts to catch the big fish.

Isn’t it more enjoyable to celebrate a 100% completion of anything, rather than say, 50% progress towards a big goal?

Knowing you are only halfway there can actually be a demotivator. Ugh! This is one reason why I really like the 12 in 12 concept I learned over at

The idea is to simply choose one small goal, challenge, or activity and commit to doing every day for one month – after which you are off the hook.  Of course, you can also choose to keep going with it.

Either way, you then choose your next challenge for the following month. In my mind, this effectively takes the 2012 marathon and breaks it up into 12 little sprints. Surely you’ve got the will to go the distance for 30 days.

What happens after you successfully complete a sprint? Exactly, now you have the confidence to tackle a marathon.

Being Happy Gives You Ownership

One thing I have discovered is when you are confident a goal will make you happy – you own it.

As a result, it becomes that much more actionable. Things like doubt and fear are no longer part of the equation.

Why would they be?  You know you going to be happy.

And what could be more energizing and motivating than that?

Plan on being happy this year, and I’m sure your business will eagerly come along for the ride.

Leave a comment below or share this with your community with any of the share buttons below – or with those on the little red bar at the bottom of this page.  

Until next time,  Jeff

Photo Credit: idea go