Do People Know Your Story?

story timeMister Rogers frequently told his audiences, “It’s hard not to like someone once your know their story.” I latched onto that phrase the first time I heard it because I think it delivers a powerful business lesson.

People connect with stories that move them and most every business can and should tell a story that helps prospects and customers connect at a deeper level. I truly believe the Internet, while making it easy to find information, has left us craving real connections, with real people, and the companies they serve.

A carefully crafted marketing story is a tool that can serve any organization trying to break through the clutter and connect with new markets. Once you uncover a story that helps people connect with your organization on a more personal level, you must use it and tell it as a key element of your brand. The story can be used on web pages, in marketing collateral, and as a tool to recruit new folks to your team.

To find and create a marketing story for your organization, one that can act as a backstory for why you do what you do, I suggest you look at your business like a writer developing a great character.

Think about the things that draw you into a story. It’s usually a character that creates a dramatic impact through actions, desires and shared experiences. Great stories and characters usually come to life through the careful telling of seemingly small details.

A seasoned writer might use the following kinds of questions to help get started unearthing the key marketing story. Play with answering some of these and you just might discover your most important marketing message to date.

  • What do you know about where this business is going that no one could know?
  • What is your industry’s greatest flaw?
  • If your business could choose a new identity, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite customer story?
  • What is your secret wish for your business?
  • What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?
  • What is your greatest fear for your business?
  • What is your greatest achievement/disappointment?
  • What about your childhood shaped you for this moment?
  • What choices have you made that you regret?

So, have you got a story to tell?

Image credit: Sugar Pond

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  • Ari Herzog

    Those are also great questions a prospective employee could ask the employer during the part of the interview when asked, “Do you have any questions for me?”

  • ducttape

    Great thought Ari

  • Paul Simister

    John this is so true.

    People connect instantly with stories because they give a business – or business owner – more sense of personality.

    It makes the business more memorable,

  • ducttape

    I think it's also such a great way to take something that might be complex and make it very simple.

  • Powercrt

    So many people miss the idea of their own story. They are so busy chasing the competitors they lose track of their outcome.

  • Julie Power

    A friend of me said the other day, “How often do you remember interesting statistics?” I replied, er, sometimes, if they really really interesting. But they're not as memorable as a good rollicking story, which is easy to remember … I remember going to a marketing presentation where the speaker told a very long, but interesting story, which nearly everyone remembered in detail. But nobody remembered the scintillating facts he told us first.

  • David Siteman Garland

    And more importantly…of can you take your story and help others with it? While the best stories are based on one's experience, the ones that last have more meaning for others. Right?

  • daniellehumbard

    Great article! People remember and share stories especially when they can relate to them and are effected by them on an emotional level.

  • Social Media Manager

    The questions you have listed are fantastic. Seems to me I could really help my customers by forwarding this list to them and telling them to answer each of these questions in an individual blog post.

  • ducttape

    Brian, I like that idea a lot – you should try that and let me know how it goes

  • David Cooke

    One key component of the development and distribution of the story is the customer. No one is more equipped to help you understand and tell your story than your customers. Get them involved.

  • ducttape

    David, this is a good tip for creating your entire marketing strategy

  • Jesse Ciccone

    To me, the most important part of this post was the line:

    “Once you uncover a story that helps people connect with your organization on a more personal level, you must use it and tell it as a key element of your brand.”

    Too often, marketers (yes, I'm one) look to (or execs direct them to) “create” a story. Good marketing is about unearthing and sharing great stories, not making them up!

  • Stephen Eugene Adams

    The tendency of marketing programs is to promote your product or service, to tell how you are excellent in providing that service and how much your customers love you. You're right, there needs to be a company story so your prospects and customer can empathize with your business.

  • JayTurn

    Thanks for the thought provoking list John.

    It is interesting to note the tendency we have towards real people as the social spectrum increases. It looks as though it began with reality television which then moved into the likes of Youtube and blogging. Now it has moved into the social media arena and people wanting to see more “real-ness” behind businesses/corporations.

    Do you think the story used to market a business would help to break down the lack of trust shown by many people when considering purchases online?

  • PandaForm

    Thanks for the list of questions to ask ourselves. They will help solidify the foundation of PandaForm's marketing story. We want our story to affect our customers and prospects deeper than just associating us as a business.

  • ducttape

    I would love to hear your story when you get it finished

  • ducttape

    I do think a good story can help build trust, no question about it.

  • ducttape

    Yes rule #1 – the story must be true and it must be curated by all.

  • Brooks J. Young

    Wonderful post! I'm going back to the drawing board to revisit my 'story'.

  • Brooks J. Young

    Wonderful post! I'm going back to the drawing board to revisit my 'story'.

  • JamieLee

    As an aspiring fiction writer who works as a marketing writer by day, I love bringing story into my copy. When you can create characters and plots that draw the reader in, you absolutely create stronger connections that help the reader understand and retain the information. Humans are wired to respond to the words “Once upon a time” … whether they are written or inferred.

  • Jason Wheeler

    Everyone has a great story. When I talk to new prospects and partners I always take time to let them know where I came from and how I got to where I am. Stories sell better than facts any day!

  • Susan

    I completely agree, this is the reason I have centered my website around sharing and posting, all user generated.

  • Tom Borg

    People love a true story! This article does a terrific job of showing the reader how to connect with clients. If they can tell their story and educate the person about their company. People like to buy from people they know. Nuff said.

  • VBP OutSourcing

    This is a great post. Often times when we are drafting content for our website, articles, or blogs our CEO will tell us to make sure we incorporate “our story.” Allowing other businesses to learn your story, and why your company does what it does really does allow others to truly understand the drive behind your company.

  • Christopher Adams

    I have been working on this lately. I love reading blog posts that relate to the story the blogger is living. I posted a story about how I learned lessons about social media from my dog Kenzie and received a good response. Stories are so interesting! Nice article!

  • Anita Schott

    Great post… It's a fact that people won't buy from you if they don't trust you…what a better way to gain trust…let people get to know you.

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