By Tom Lazaroff & Bruce Dundore, cofounders at The Fundamental Group
- We’re all great at telling stories about the important people and things in our lives, with the general exception of our businesses.
- However, a story told in compelling language is critical to getting people to “buy in” to your brand.
- For a business, the storytelling process is much like taking a mundane item from a thrift store and upselling it on eBay. There’s a formula for this that works every time.
What are the most important things in your life?
I assume the list goes something like this: your kids, your marriage, your family, and your house (not necessarily in that order). And then comes your business.
I bet you have some whiz-bang stories about the first four items on that list: like the time your kid’s hamster got loose in the living room, or the story of how you met your wife. And I bet that both friends and strangers enjoy hearing these stories. But then, their eyes glaze over when you start to talk about your business.
If your business is one of the most important things in your life, then why do your stories about it always sound logical, predictable and boring?
It’s because you make the other stories compelling, and the ones about your business stay stale. They don’t get the same treatment.
You see, most of us have fairly average lives. Many of us have lost a hamster, and many of us have met a significant other. These experiences are relatively average and boring to hear about.
Unless they’re told with more compelling language. Unless you construct your story in a way that builds, builds, BUILDS tension. Unless you dial up the suspense and intrigue until your audience simply has to listen.
You could either say simply, “Oh, my kid lost his hamster the other day,” or you could go into great detail, explaining the mysterious emerging from the cage, the discovery of the missing rodent, and the horrific chase that ensued.
That’s what great writers and storytellers do. They don’t just tell you about the moment; they tell you about the world that moment represents. And they do it in ways you’ve never heard of before, which prompts insight into your own life.
Oh, and these storytellers can give you incredible ROI.
A group of researchers did an experiment: They bought a bunch of junk from thrift stores – items like fish topiary figures, statuettes, pencil cases and buckets -- for a total of $128.74. Then, they had a talented writer craft a brief story about each item. The researchers posted the items on eBay, with the stories as the product descriptions. In the end, the thrift store junk sold for a total of $3,612.51! That’s more than a 2,800 percent increase in value.
You have to do that same storytelling for your business, if you want anybody to remember it. You have to construct your business story so it builds, so people can feel the sweat and blood that went into creating your company. You have to shine a light on your failures in order for your successes to glow brighter. You have to be aware that at any moment, the listener will tune out if the story goes flat, rambles, or gets leaden with data. And you have to tell the story with the goal of listeners being better off after hearing it. In short, your story belongs to them -- and they’ll share it with others if it’s great.
Our business, The Fundamental Group, helps businesses tell their stories. Storytelling isn’t magic; it’s practical. It’s a formula, a discipline. And it gets things done. Need a bank loan? Tell a story. Need to sharpen your sales team? Tell them a story. Need better product descriptions for your web store? You guessed it -- stories are the answer!
In our next couple of articles for Grow Wire, we’ll break down the storytelling process, then help you walk through it on your own. We’ll help you understand the surefire way to construct a story that makes the world interested in you.
Let the games begin.
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