Column from Florida Trend's Business Coach
William Faulkner said, “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” So, what’s your company’s story?
Having a narrative that strikes a cord with your audience is one of the best marketing and sales tools you can have. Think about it -- how many times have you been captivated by a great story? Whether it’s a novel you can’t set aside or the inspiring tale of a presenter, stories add credibility and move us to action.
You need a story that rises above the noise because people will decide to buy when they connect with your business on some level.
Here are some pointers for crafting a story about what your company offers that will move others to take the next step.
Don’t be boring. Just because your story has substance and facts doesn’t meant it can’t hit an emotional cord. Make it interesting with an unusual angle or fact that’s direct and candid. This will help to capture people’s attention. What’s more appealing: “We changed our direction in 2004 to help our customers solve the problem of wireless security breaches, reducing unauthorized access by 100%” or, “Our customers wanted to stop the problems they had with wireless security breaches, but they don't know how. They were crying, ‘Help me!’ We listened and came to the rescue by developing the industry’s ultimate security system, plugging 100% of the security holes for our customers.”
Find common ground.Let the listener know that you understand what they might be going through. People will resonate with your story when you can draw them into your narrative. You may not know the particular person that’s “across the table” from you, but you do know the problems of your market. More importantly, you have customers who have benefited greatly from your offering -- merge that into your story.
Don’t waste a prospect’s time.Speed matters when it comes to catching the eye of a busy web visitor, someone you meet at a networking event, or a room full of prospects. Keep your story short while including relevant information. Weave a message that’s focused on your ideal prospect into the story. There’s nothing worse than someone giving an overview of what their company does and after five minutes they’re still trying to explain it. Help your audience quickly determine if what you are offering is a fit or not by telling your story in less than 60 seconds.
Give supporting facts.Draw from reality with evidence. In the mind of a prospect that’s substantiation, not just your opinion -- a big difference. But, it doesn’t have to be dry -- intertwine numbers with a description dripping in enough rich detail to intrigue your prospect. For some types of businesses, it can be difficult to come up numbers, particularly if you’re a young company without much of a track record. If necessary, speak to industry statistics and what your customers experience when using your product or service.
Your story is critical to the success your company. If you can clearly tell your story, quickly and in a way that’s convincing and memorable, then you’ll greatly increase your chances to grow revenue.
Create an experience for your audience that’s authentic. Paint a picture that tells your story with a heavy dose of your message. Don’t just tell people it’s raining hard outside. Let them experience the wind in their face and the sting of the rain. Then bring them inside to the safety that your company offers. Make your story come alive!
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com