Looks like 2014 is shaping up to be the Year of the Story.
Yep, it seems that every blog post or article I read lately is touting the value of stories as a way to help companies sell stuff. It’s part of a larger trend, particularly among big companies, of recognizing that customers are human.
Who knew, huh?
In reality, stories have been around ever since our cave-dwelling ancestors began drawing pictures on the living room walls. After all, for the last five years I’ve begun each edition of MarCom Matters with a story. Turns out a couple of them are actually true (Just kidding!).
But when it comes to your own business or nonprofit the question is, what makes for a good story?
Or more precisely, an effective story?
Well, I had the privilege a couple of weeks ago of listening to nine entrepreneurs introduce their brand new businesses. It was a kind of graduation ceremony for a 15-week accelerator program sponsored by The Social Enterprise Trust, a Connecticut-based organization devoted to promoting the social enterprise as an alternative business model.
Every one of the nine began by telling what led him or her to start a business that’s committed to having a positive social impact.
Among the presenters were…
Karen, who after seeing Girl Rising, a documentary film about girls from poor countries fighting to attend school, created a line of eco-friendly hair-care products to fund girls’ educational programs.
Trai, who after spending some time in prison and lots of time rebuilding his life, founded a nonprofit that helps ex-offenders and substance abusers reenter society within a supportive environment.
Amy, who along with her artist husband reclaimed his childhood home and established a holistic retreat center that combines yoga, art, massage, meditation and environmental sensitivity.
Susan, who in response to the murder of her 19-year-old niece, conducts workshops and produces educational materials that help abused women move “from survivor to thriver.”
So back to the question: What makes their stories effective?
Here’s my take…
The bottom line: You have your own story to tell about what motivates you, where you came from, what you think and why you do what you do.
Don’t be afraid to tell it every chance you get. It’s a huge part of what differentiates you from others in your industry or profession.
Yes, you might scare away those who disagree or think it inappropriate. But the ones who stick around and listen will be the ones you’ll want to work with.
And speaking of sticking around… whatever happened to that Old Spice Guy anyway?