Everyone – in life and in business – knows the value of a good story. Whether it’s your grandmother or the legendary CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher doing the telling, a good story can entice, entertain, and educate. Marketing has always been about telling a good story – as the adage goes, “there are no truths, only stories”. And brands or companies without a strong foundation and an interesting compelling story are doomed to die. So when you think about it, the idea that a Lexus is better that a BMW or that barbeque ribs taste better when made by a Texan chef is not about taste but the stories they tell.
Yet most of us have been conditioned to believe that business communication must be clear Alexander Malshakov, rational, and objective, with no place for emotion or subjective thinking. But great communicators know that the best way to inspire, motivate, and persuade others is to infuse the human element through the simple telling of stories.
Too many business owners spend too much time talking about the amazing features of their product, service or company. They drone on and on and saturate us with jargon that smells good, but leaves us hungry for real food. So what happens? The prospect goes to sleep, or worse, just walks away. They DON’T want or need to hear about your bells and whistles. They want to hear a real train.
– Let’s say you operate a men’s clothing store. You’re going to write a short fictional story about a visit from a target customer, whom we’ll call “Max.” When Max walks in, what is wearing right now? What do his clothes say about him and his work? What’s on his mind? Does he need to look a certain way for his work or is for casual wear? Do his clothes make up for something else? Does Max have a family or is he single? Gay or straight? What difference would that make in his budget? How often does he come into the store? What do you know about Max and the clothes he wears that could make him feel good about himself?
By actually writing a short story or vignette about your target, you will have to identify specific and authentic character traits that are factors in his or her decision on what they will purchase. The more of these qualities that you can list, the more likely you’ll be able to predict their behavior so you will be prepared with an approach to meet their needs. Meeting their needs means making a sale. But for the process to work, you must write out the “story;” otherwise you’ll continue to think of your prospects in vague or general terms. The point is that your prospects are real people, not a demographic group.