Earlier this week, I read this quote by Larry D. Turners,
“On any given Monday I am one sale closer and one idea away from being a Millionaire. “
And that got me thinking what if I exchanged “sale” for “story?”
Can you be one story closer?
One story closer …
to finding new customers?
One story closer …
to growing your business?
One story closer …
to earning enough money to stop worrying about it?
It sounds a little like wishful thinking, doesn’t it? But then I thought some more.
I know without a doubt that:
You have a story in you that will connect deeply with your ideal customer.
You also have a story that will motivate your ideal customer to buy.
And there’s there is a story that will make marketing your business easier.
So maybe it’s not too outrageous to think you are one story closer.
And then I remembered when I was one story closer.
On a lark, back when I owned my bath and body boutique, Fizz Bath Shop, I entered a business storytelling competition hosted by Google, American Express, and YouTube.
Just a few power hitters. No pressure.
I didn’t think of myself as a good writer, much less a storyteller and I had to be on camera, which terrified me at the time.
Let’s not forget that I had no idea what the heck I was doing.
But I did it anyway.
And after 1,732,548 retakes (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration), I submitted my business story. And guess what? I won.
I sort of wish I could say I didn’t win and share a life lesson here, but I did win. I not only won a cash prize, but I was gifted a dedicated Google account representative to teach me about digital advertising, and I was featured on YouTube’s homepage during Small Business Saturday.
After that feature, my sales quadrupled, I was featured in a national magazine, and my wholesale business was born out of demand.
So you can say, I was one story closer. One story closer to:
- Growing my business.
- Finding more of your ideal customers.
- Eliminating my money worries.
That’s why I believe in the power of story so strongly. I’ve seen how it changed my business and I know it can change yours too.
So when you struggle to figure out what to try next to get people to take notice, just remember …
You’re one story closer.
You might think you can just go out and tell your story. I mean it is your story, after all. But the reality is to use your business story to grow your business; you have to create stories that your ideal customer will respond to.
In my work helping small business owners to tell their stories better, I have found there are four key steps needed to create a strong story foundation. They are:
- Gathering Information
- The Brand Story Canvas
- Creating a Story Vault
- Becoming a Better Story Sharer
Want to know more? Well, let’s go into each of the four steps in more detail. But before we do, I wanted to help you get a start creating your story vault so I created The Business Short Story Workbook. Click the button below to get it.
The best way to take your business to the next level and tell a better story along the way is to make sure you are operating from a place of knowledge. Knowledge about your business, your ideal customer, and especially, about your competitors and your industry.
There is a whole host of information to be discovered when you do some investigative work. For most small businesses, this investigation happens in the beginning stages of building their business, but like most things, gathering information isn’t a one and done kind of thing.
If you don’t know what your competitors are up to or what today’s challenges are for your ideal customer, the stories you’re telling won’t resonate, evoke emotion or inspire action.
One of the best pieces of information you can gather is learning how your customers are finding solutions to their problems. If you know how they are searching, then you’ll know how to answer their questions.
And one of my favorite tools for this is keywordspy.com. It’s a free tool that helps you uncover high-value keywords to help you plan your content and your stories better. Now, there are paid options to this service, but the free tool is just fine.
As a bonus when joining Brand Story School, I take you through a detailed plan of action to thoroughly research your competitors, your customers, and your business to be better prepared to fill out your Brand Story Canvas.
Speaking of the …
Brand Story Canvas
Here’s a blog post that goes into the Brand Story Canvas in detail, The 6-Step Blueprint for Telling a Brand Story That Sells More Stuff. But for now, you should know that when you begin building your story foundation, everything stems from the Brand Story Canvas.
There are a lot of things that go into crafting a great story. And to help small business owners tell better brand stories, I’ve simplified the process into six core elements: The Hero (your customer), Their Pains, The Mentor (you), The Results (both successes and failures), The Plan, and The Call to Adventure.
When first setting out to teach business story sharing about five years ago, I found that most Small Business Owners were overwhelmed at the idea of transitioning what they know about their business into a story. You see, it’s much easier to spout a list of memorized facts than to open up and try to form an emotional connection.
But it’s that emotional connection that inspires potential customers to buy. In fact, The Advertising Research Foundation proved that “likeability” is the trait most likely to increase sales. And research also shows that when you use emotional triggers in an ad, a potential customer is 2-to-1 more likely to buy a product.
That’s why I’m on a mission to bring better brand story sharing to local businesses. Local small businesses and their owners have the stories to share; they just need a little guidance.
Does that sound like you? Then the Brand Story Canvas can help. And as I mentioned earlier, I break it all down here. I also give you a heads start on your story vault with The Business Short Story Workbook. You can get that by clicking the button below.
Creating a Story Vault
The next key component of a solid story foundation is your personal Story Vault. Inside Brand Story School we work through a whole host of business stories (ten, in fact) and story scenes to help you sell more stuff.
That’s because not all stories are created equal, and neither are your audiences. Whether you are talking to a large group, an intimate gathering or telling your story to an audience of one, being prepared with the right story at the right time is crucial.
One of the things I noticed with the hundreds of small business owners I’ve worked with, is the struggle to answer the question, “What do you do?”
The answer to this question is what I refer to as The Business Short Story. While simple in theory, it can be hard to master.
And because of that, most business owners end up stumbling through a basic introduction of who they are and what they do.
I think we often overlook the importance of the quick introduction.
Have you ever been asked about your business, and you verbally vomit a bunch of nonsense? I know I have, and if you’re honest, I guess you have too. Sure, the classic elevator pitch is on everyone’s radar, but it’s only used in the traditional sense.
Enter, the business short story. A collection of stories you can use, so the quick introduction becomes memorable.
The reality of doing business is you should always be pitching your business.
Always. You never know who is on the other side of the handshake, email or phone call. Treat every contact as a potential customer, investor, or loyal fan, because in one way or another they probably are.
As a start to your very own story vault, I created the Business Short Story Workbook to help you create better and more memorable introductions. Just click the button below to grab it.
Become a Better Story Sharer
And the final piece to your story foundation is the tips and strategies you need to be a better story sharer. Notice I use the word story sharer over storyteller, and that’s because we know through countless studies that sharing vs. telling is a much better approach to influence someone.
Research shows our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. For over 40,000 years, we’ve been communicating through stories because our brains are wired to understand and retain stories.
And recently, Stanford University conducted a study that tested fact-telling against story sharing.
Students listened to two different presentations: one more traditional including facts and figures. The other was based on a story. Five percent of the students were able to cite a statistic from the presentation, but 63% were able to remember the story.
One of the most important tips I can give you today is to make sure you are in love with the right stuff.
Yes. I want you to fall in love. I know. I know. But I want you to hear me out because this is where most small business owners make a huge mistake. You see, they fall in love with their mistress, instead of their wife.
In business speak that means they fall in love with their product, service and their business instead of their customer. And the first thing you need to do before you can tell a better story is fall in love with your customer – they are the hero of your story after all.
Bottom line, if you want people to remember you and your business- share a story.
Remember, your community and your business become stronger with every story you share.