The story is the new about page.
Does your business have a story? If not, you need one. People connect emotionally with stories, and they help people connect emotionally with your product and your company. I highly recommend tuning your story. Everybody has one, but most people forget to tell their own.
Stories are so effective, that sales coaches teach this concept as a sales technique. Instead of telling a prospect about what you can do, sales coaches suggest that you tell a story about a recent customer with similar opportunities.
But it goes beyond that, a story helps you in the marketplace, and as a whole begins to define your company. Look at most major companies and there is an entire culture that is blossoming because of a story. Something that the founder perceived as an opportunity or need in their own life, and jumped on it.
Here are five keys to a good story
- The founder(s) began from scratch and invested a lot of time into their idea before getting funding (if at all). People like stories about hard work that pays off. Because they can picture themselves in the same situation. Most people equate mega-success with a little bit of luck. And if there is something in your story they can relate to, then you’re off to a good start.
- The founders saw a need and found a way to fill it. Nobody likes a company that is about the money exclusively. People want to work with companies that solve real world problems. They want to hear about companies with passion for what they are doing.
- People want to hear about the apparent one decision that changed everything. In many cases, it’s the accidental meeting of an investor, or the decision to add a feature. As you add detail to your story, it gives your audience further opportunity to connect emotionally with the story.
- Describe the world at the time of your companies inception. In Google’s case, their were already many search engines and the dot com boom was full swing. Adding background information about the marketplace for your product is paramount.
- A good story shouldn’t end. What’s the next step for your company? It’s founders? What is the company’s intent in the coming years?
Some examples of good business stories:
Here are some great business stories I’ve seen over the last few years. I’ve linked to the story when I can, and provided a brief synopsis in my own words. Feel free to add your own.
Airborne Health — Teacher invents drug free formula that helps you combat germs and keeps you healthy.
37signals — Web design company needed a way to collaborate with clients, turns it into a revolution selling web based project management and productivity tools.
Starbucks — Howard Schultz turned a store that sold only coffee beans into an empire, all after seeing espresso stands in Italy.
Zappos.com — Founder Nick Swinmurn turned a walk in the mall (and frustration finding good shoes) into a $370 million dollar business and later sold it to Amazon.com
CD Baby — “I was just selling my own CD in 1997, making my living by touring and doing sessions, and asked some fellow musicians if they’d like me to sell their CD, too. It was supposed to be a hobby.”
Google — Started by two Stanford students in their spare time who didn’t even like each other when they met. But agreed on one thing: search technology could be better.
What’s your story?