Something I learned when I was serving in the Army was that people in the Armed Forces tell great stories. I believe there are two specific reasons for this:
- The experiences involved are often so far outside the normal scope of people’s lives that they are inherently interesting.
- They have been honed and occasionally/repeatedly embroidered during many re-tellings during quiet periods – of which there are many.
Once you leave the Armed Forces you should realise that actually neither of these situations have fundamentally changed. As a business owner you are doing something that the majority of people do not understand and will never experience. You should also be meeting new people all the time and will be telling them about your business; so hone and refine your storytelling but allow your conscience to be your guide when it comes to puffing up tales of your business.
Wrap your Story around Your Business
Online marketing podcaster Pat Flynn (you should check him out on iTunes) spoke in Episode 72 of his podcast about the way Subway tied their brand very closely to the story of Jared, a man who lost a significant amount of weight by eating their sandwiches. The story is a fascinating one that is worth sharing and you cannot tell the story without mentioning the Subway brand – I bet you have heard it already.
Make it Personal – It’s What Sets You Apart
An interesting and engaging story can be one of the things that makes your business stand out from everyone else in your market sector.
If you are in a business that isn’t considered very glamorous it is almost a bonus, because if you can make your story interesting and communicate what is special about your business you will stand out even more.
Communicate the Story….Everywhere
When we opened the café I had written a few blog posts and put them up on our news site but not many people viewed them and they weren’t easily accessible to the majority of people who came through the door.
We neglected to put our story anywhere in the café, no-one knew what we were about. So only 4 weeks after opening we reprinted the menu and included a page that told our story and set out the cornerstones of what we believed Baltzersen’s was about. You can read it here.
Since then so many people have complimented us on the food, coffee, service but also surprisingly many say how much they love the story – often they don’t know it’s my story and when they learn this they are even more enthusiastic.
There are so many ways to tell your story. You can do it in person at networking events, by blogging, visually through Instagram or Pinterest, produce a podcast or even through video – be it professionally or in a more affordable low-rent style.
So, what tools are out there? Well I recently recorded and edited my own brand story and you can watch it here:
Creating a video like the one above is pretty quick and easy (it was filmed entirely on my iPhone) but there are a few basic techniques and some pieces of equipment you will need to get reasonable results. To learn what I needed to do I purchased an online training package called iPhone Video Hero. This package is entirely video based and tells you how to make the best video you can with your limited time and resources – for £65 I would highly recommend it and I have purchased other products created by the same author.
There are thousands of examples of small businesses engaging in storytelling out there. As a food business that is what interests me so The Collaborators is a really nice website that has a portfolio of work from large brands to small and is worth checking out.
The next edition in this series is ‘Ability to Learn New Skills’ is coming soon, to get an email notification of this and other articles just sign up below.