If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times: Becoming a storyteller with a compelling narrative to communicate your message is the key to resonating in today’s world.
Indeed, this is the contemporary way of marketing - and it isn’t going away any time soon. Before every marketeer was required to be a storyteller, we were focused on the 4 P’s (product, price, place, and promotion). While the 4 P’s were tangible, measurable and made for solid marketing plans that could be benchmarked to competitors, we are now (and have been for a while) operating in the murky waters of telling stories – and using messaging frameworks and narratives.
While storytelling might not seem very practical for serious tech companies, there is nothing frivolous about a good story. Good stories put the reader or listener first, engage and help businesses from start-ups to publicly traded corporations, build a following, engender trust and move the sales needle.
A story is your brand in action.
Do you have a one-liner?
Just as in dating, you need a one-liner. It can’t be contrived or corny or laden with jargon. One-liners need to be sincere and to the point. This idea often brings tech innovators to their knees. Why? Well, they simply know too much. They know the nuances of why their idea is revolutionary, and those nuances are grounded in true technological feats that are not easily explained. But take a step back to early lessons learned about communications. Trite as it may sound ‘sell the sizzle, not the steak’ is a concept for all times. It requires us to think from the outside in. What is the outside benefit that we bring to the table? In other words, what is the pain point you are solving, the outcome that the customer will experience?
One-liners are great openers - and a stepping stone to crafting a good story.
Stories Evolve with the Times
Early-stage startups need a strong origin story. The quest of the founder to solve a challenging problem. The serendipity of how it all came about. How a cohesive team was formed. A bit of the underdog challenging the conventional. After all - everyone likes to root for the underdog.
But just as a novel evolves to tell a story that builds and reveals a changed hero, so must your story. Origin stories become legend stories that build community and culture. Once you are in the throws of competition and taking money from customers, you need to tell a different story.
For those who have been in tech for a while (yes, I am dating myself), the famous founding story of Compaq went like this: Ron Canion and two friends from TI sat down at a pie shop and sketched out their idea on the back of a placemat. This idea would become the industry’s first portable computer. As they brought their idea to life, the narrative shifted to user benefits – portable computing power that freed you from your desktop. There is a great documentary called Silicon Cowboys on this very story if you want to check it out: see the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wjJYqUkHd8
The takeaway – you’re never done crafting and telling stories.
The Hero’s Journey – Your Customer
Offering a tried-and-true framework for building an engaging sales narrative, the Hero’s Journey takes your customer and casts them as the lead who goes on an adventure where crisis and conflict are encountered. The customer conquers the elements and comes home a hero. Naturally, the customer discovers the power of a new, transformative approach along the way – the secret sauce for success. In other words, your technology, service, solution…all that you bring to bear have been discovered and embraced by the hero of the story.
The Promised Land
A great example of sales storytelling is bucketed into 5 elements by noted author and strategic narrative consultant, Andy Raskin. Check out his take on what he calls the ‘greatest sales deck he’s ever seen’: https://medium.com/the-mission/the-greatest-sales-deck-ive-ever-seen-4f4ef3391ba0
Tell Your Story
Every company has a story to tell and there’s no time like the present to frame your messages into a story. Oscar-worthy material not required, just the core fabric of what your company does, who you serve, why now, why you… and why not.
If you are already leveraging the power of storytelling, kudos to you! Just remember to keep evolving your story so you’re in lockstep with your audience.
If you have a story to share, send it my way: firstname.lastname@example.org. I love a good narrative!