Stories Sell and Set You Free

Gold Award - June 1996

One of my first experiences involving the successful use of story for practical business purposes was as an aspiring landscape contractor – the owner of a mainstream small business.

My company was beginning to deliver really nice quality work, but we had yet to land that special project that we hoped would distinguish us in both our community and industry.

There is a Story Behind Every Solution

When we did get our big break, we knew it immediately.

Why?  Because this particular project presented multiple challenges. It was rich with potential for interesting stories in regards to how we met those challenges. To make things even more interesting, nearly every solution involved navigating uncharted waters.

Needless to say there are many interesting side stories that I’d love to share, such as the adventures two of us experienced over a weekend involving nearly 40 consecutive hours of highway driving to interview new vendors – but they are beyond the scope of this article.

What we came to learn is that looking for the story can often help you find the solution that has otherwise evaded you.

Stories are powerful because they involve drama, mystery, and yes, failure. Yet, they nevertheless lead you to where you need to go.

Look for the story and it will lead you to the right solution.

Look for the Story and It Will Appear

In our desire to create an award-winning landscape, we knew we needed to have a story to tell about the process of working with the client, understanding their needs, designing viable solutions, and of course, executing them well.

The search for meaningful stories is what helped us create an outstanding environment for our client – and an engaging and experiential process for creating it. 

It is what sold the client on working with us.

It’s what made the process fun for everyone.

It’s what pushed us far beyond what we thought was possible.

It is what helped us achieve the award that put our little business on the map, and on a path for two decades of sustained growth.

That particular project was more than a project – it was the the result of careful research, study, sacrifice, sweat, and soul, coupled with just the right materials that we curated from sources around the country.

The collective whole had a great deal of meaning for our client, and everyone in our little company that was part of the collaboration.

IT was the story!

Meaningful Stories are Memorable

Working with nature is interesting. Yet, any endeavor can be interesting if it infused with meaning and purpose.

Steve Jobs was fond of saying Apple products just work. They do, and that is why they have earned their place as more than mere technology tools.

The joy of experiencing anything that works exceptionally well is a story that will be freely shared.

One of the powerful uses of story is capturing what is personally meaningful, and therefore memorable. What has meaning seems to fit, it belongs, it has earned its rightful place. There is nothing random about it.

As business owners and marketers, we should always be looking for the story that adds authentic meaning to the work we do.

Just looking for it is often enough for it to appear.

Find the story that is behind your message and you will find something worthy of one’s attention.

Attention is the reward for great storytelling.

Stories can be complex or simple, but more than anything they must be interesting, and this means they should include unmistakable details that fit and belong, that are clearly not random or artificially manufactured.

Great stories are believable, memorable, and engaging. They build trust.

If you want to convey ideas in a memorable way to sell more of your products and services, then make sure there is a meaningful story behind them.

Then you will earn the attention of your customers.

It always works.

Stories not only sell – they set you free.

They are the soul of content marketing.

How are you using story to humanize your business and promote its good works?  Share one of your favorite stories in the box below – and feel free to share with your community.

Until next time,  Jeff