So much of today’s marketing efforts focus on ‘storytelling’. Make no mistake, storytelling is having a huge impact in the marketplace.  Seriously, think back just a few months ago when everyone’s attention was drawn to the TV commercials shown during the Super Bowl.  More importantly, think about the commercials that you still remember – chances are it wasn’t about the blatant promotion of a product, citing features, benefits, specs or awards won that stuck with you. It was about the stories, of people who somehow, somewhere experienced and interacted with situations or challenges that cross paths at some point with the product or company telling the story.  They are memorable because those stories draw you in through the people, the situations or the challenges that were depicted.  They connected with the audience on an emotional level.

I saved a quote from somewhere – about storytelling, I don’t know who said it but it eludes to the idea, no it eludes to the fact that in marketing, whether it be advertising, web content development, video production or even blogging – if you connect with your audience’s heart, their head and desired action will follow. 

The #1 comment I hear from clients – “I’m not creative! I don’t know how to develop stories, I’m not a writer, a filmmaker, not an actor, not this, not that, not – don’t even know where to begin!”

So, a couple thoughts about finding your story.

>#1 – Start at the beginning.

Don’t worry about creating anything because it’s already created.  It’s the old ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ adage.  The story is already there, you just need to uncover it and polish it off.  Dig deeper than the WHAT and get to the WHY. You know the company, you know the product, you know your clients, you know the people who you work with, you know your successes, you know your challenges, you know the situations clients come to you with, YOU KNOW IT ALL.  Every example mentioned has a story, a record of the who, what, where, when, how, and why of its happening. Just take some time to talk about these and make some notes. Mine the nuggets first.

#2 – Know who you’re talking to.

You’ve probably already heard the whole ‘Know your audience’ speech so I won’t drag this one out but here’s the key to this. You have to know this in detail in order to work on polishing and refining your story in order to then present it with confidence that they’ll see themselves in it.  They should see themselves or relate (using their senses & feelings!) to the situation, the challenge, the interaction, the feelings and activity depicted, and the resolution. Oh, and don’t assume – talk it through, you’ll be surprised by what you learn.

#3 – What’s the purpose of the story?

Please pay attention to this next sentence.  I’m not talking so much about what you feel or believe you need to say, explain, define or provide instruction or clarity about regarding your company, your products or your services. By developing this story – I’m referring to answering why you want your audience to hear this story.  What do you want them to do by hearing your story?  How do you want them to feel after hearing your story?  This should be your focus and everyone working on developing this story needs to stay focused on it (because straying off the purpose path is not a good thing!)

#4 – Be authentic and genuine in telling your story.

All the information discovered through the first three steps are like puzzle pieces that need to be examined and worked with to determine the best fit for putting a story together.  You won’t use them all and that’s ok – save them for later!  As you begin to see the story take shape, be sure to validate YOU in this story. (And by you, I’m referring to your organization, company, workforce, etc)

Last note:

#5 – Don’t develop a story, use it once, and then put it on the shelf!

Find opportunities to share it and spread it!  Leverage your efforts to reap the greatest return on investment.  Repurpose the story in all facets of your business, from HR recruiting and hiring, to Sales training & presentations, Customer Service, speeches, press releases, employee communications and more.  Everyone LOVES a good story, so pass it on.

Maybe you have other thoughts and helpful suggestions to add. What works best for you?