Telling my story has always seemed to come naturally. I never tire of rehashing and embellishing tall tales of my decade plus as a cruise ship entertainer – always weaving in some of the epic fails along with the romance. Listeners get what sounds like the ‘Love Boat’ resurrected as a modern day reality show. (Yes, I endured several tours of duty on the Princess ‘Love Boats’ of that era.) Plus, the process provides the perfect segue to a cruise presentation.
I rarely think of storytelling as a branding process but – according to dozens of business books – that is exactly what’s happening.
It is a mantra in the Toastmasters organization- the perfect place to hone your public speaking chops – that people will remember how you made them feel long after they’ve forgotten what you said. This is reinforced by a recent article in Forbes magazine, “Facts are boring but putting facts into a context with emotion makes them memorable.” From the same article…”if your eggs came from a farm with organic chickens and the story is communicated clearly, people will pay more for those eggs because they have a great story behind them.”* (Chicken jokes, anyone?)
Are you making your business unique and memorable by telling your story? You don’t need a PR firm to make it work. Aforementioned Toastmasters clubs are a great resource for developing story telling skills. The clubs are ubiquitous, inexpensive and open to the public. In a few short months yours truly went from freezing up trying to lead a silent prayer to winning speech contests.
If public speaking is not your forte, blogging and newsletters could be just the ticket. Don’t hesitate to write about you and how your life experiences have shaped you.
Teach your way to fame and fortune
Give away your expertise. The most successful bloggers are teachers, freely sharing tips and insider information. Most require only that site visitors identify themselves, sharing contact information as payment for additional guidance and advice.
The most re-tweeted and shared article I’ve ever written is titled “How to Get the Best Cabin on a Cruise Ship”. It has been shared, reposted and re-published dozens of times. The reason: it’s brilliant! Seriously, although a plain vanilla title on an overdone subject, the content was crafted to be as much entertaining as informative, whole sections of it tongue-in-cheek with ridiculous exaggerations.
Fine tune both skills and be prolific – the best teachers are great story tellers.
In ‘Rework’, by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – a chapter on ‘decommodizing’ states “Make you part of your product or service. Inject what’s unique about the way you think into what you sell. Make your product something no one else can offer.”
The authors give several examples – Zappos founder & CEO Tony Hsieh’s obsession with customer service – and Joel Salatin at Polyface Farms going against the grain (pun intended) insisting on 100% grass fed cows – never giving them antibiotics. Fried & Hansson state “Polyface doesn’t just sell chickens, it sells a way of thinking.” (We’re back to chickens again?)
The last paragraph in the decommoditizing chapter resonated with me and sums up the point nicely…”Pour yourself into your product or service – and everything around your product too: how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product.”
Personally, this book spelled relief. I’ve stopped chastising myself for not having a business plan…for not being a classic workaholic…for not having a mission statement…for picking fights…for underdoing the competition, etc.
As one reviewer stated, “Rework forces you to rethink everything you thought you knew about strategy, customers and getting things done.” The authors show us how to create more by doing less. The two writers are the founders of software company 37signals (www.37signals.com).
*Paige Arnof-Fenn – ‘Telling Your Story: the Secrets to Content Branding’ Forbes – 11/04/2012