If you can make change with a memo containing three bullet points, then by all means, do so. – Seth Godin
I love this quote. I love it because I work in marketing. In marketing, we’re always trying to sell you change. Buy this product and you’ll look younger. Sign up for Service X and your bank account will bulge! No matter who you are or what you do, you buy products or services because you think it will change you or your lifestyle for the better. The second reason I love Seth’s quote is because he recognizes that clarity is critical, but if you really want to make an impact, if you want to sell change, you’re going to have to develop a story. 5 years ago, if you asked companies to share their brand story, only a handful of businesses were prepared. Today, more and more organizations are beginning to understand the value well crafted brand stories add to their marketing efforts; however, the trend is still underdeveloped.
This begs the question, If a clear story makes it easier for brands to market their services, why haven’t we seen more businesses leveraging their narrative?
Great question. What exactly is holding you and your company back? I’d like to submit the idea of entrepreneurial inertia – the idea that businesses know what they should do to drive their business forward, but for some reason or other, they don’t. Entrepreneurs and employees alike procrastinate on doing the things they don’t know how to do well, even though confronting these tasks could propel their businesses to the next level.
Here are the top 3 reasons, entrepreneurs and companies neglect brand story development:
- Developing your brand story takes time.
- Developing your brand story takes skill.
- Developing your brand story takes courage. That’s right. Courage.
Consider this, what will your business look like if you get your brand story wrong? Or more frightening, what will your business look like if you get your brand story right!? In business, entrepreneurs are often just as paralyzed by success as they are by failure.
Don’t let fear intimidate you from trying.
Developing your brand story may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Most writers admit the hardest part of the process is sitting down and organizing your thoughts. I call this process the downdraft, that is, taking the ideas in your mind and getting them ‘down’ on paper in a clear format. If you’re feeling anxiety about getting started, remind yourself that you don’t have to write your brand story in one sitting. The best novels weren’t written overnight and they likely weren’t perfected on a first pass. So, if you are willing to step up to the challenge, to confront your business fears, what are the primary steps you need to take to develop your story and how exactly does a good story work?
Just like good marketing, a good story describes a series of changes that ultimately lead to your success or your failure.
Every story starts at one point and ends at another, uninterrupted along the way. As the story proceeds, we see a hero emerge (your customer), we see supporting characters develop (your firm who guides your customer), and most importantly, we see that trials and tribulations are overcome along the way (by using your product or benefiting from your service). We understand that as we read the story that there will be resolve and that resolve will either be in success or failure.
So what can you do about it?
One exercise you can try is to prompt brand story ideas by writing your intro and conclusion first. Afterwards, you can go back and consider the defining moments (the changes) that lead up to your conclusion. This is how you can begin to define and document your downdraft. If you have to, start with the bullet point method Seth touched on, then work with those points to broaden and enrich your narrative. The pay off is tremendous- stories help sell. They help your reader connect with you and they demonstrate your value proposition in a form your reader can relate and empathize with.