Behind every successful company is a successful story––an impactful narrative that truly resonates.
In fact, companies need impactful, resonant stories––from origin stories to stories about your philosophy and mission––because that’swhat people relate to and remember. Facts, accomplishments, and even impressive technological capabilities generally don’t prove as effective, depending on the audience. And the reason is because they don’t prove memorable. They won’t prompt users or customers to pick your product or service over the competition on account of an intangible “gut feeling”––that inclination born in the heart. A great story that’s intriguing, relatable, and memorable, however, will.
Among most aspiring founders and entrepreneurs, this is well known. Less intuitive is how, exactly, to go about creating and telling great stories about your company, yourself, or its products. Here are a few imperatives to keep in mind.
1) Know your audience
As is critical in all kinds of storytelling, you have to remember who your story is for. Different audiences require different means of messaging, modes of expression, and topical focuses. If you’re telling the story of your company or product to someone steeped in IT knowledge, emphasis on the technological bells and whistles––speeds, feeds, and features––might make sense. Not everyone will care as much, however, about how your high-performance storage system developed on flash runs quickly and reliably.
Some target customers at the executive level, for example, may care more about earnings per share or cost-saving mechanisms than speed or features of a particular product.
This is a lesson I have learned and observed as a product leader and marketeer: different audiences necessitate different storytelling objectives. What matters is what resonates at one’s core.
In light of this, talk to your customers to find out what they need and what they’re interested in. And it benefits you, too, to get specific. Before a sales pitch, actually ask potential customers about their objectives, about the things they want to stop doing and the things they want to create. Then, cater your story around that.
2) To make your story memorable, aim to touch your customers’ hearts
Remember: in storytelling, you have to win both minds and hearts.
And it’s that latter piece which can often prove more impactful for your bottom line. At Violin, for example, one of our clients is a hospital. In sharing the details of that partnership, we of course share with those interested—executives, mainly—stories about how we helped ensure the hospital’s core applications, data centers, and general technological infrastructure ran smoothly and quickly. We tell them about how, by way of that increased efficiency, we helped them lower their costs.
But with potential customers we can also describe how our technology affected and improved that hospital’s ability to care for its patients. By way of delivering information faster and more efficiently, our storage solutions may have enabled doctors to diagnose certain illnesses quicker––to in effect save more lives.
That’s a story liable to resonate on a more emotional level––and thus stick in one’s mind for a long time.
3) Follow the 5 C’s––especially when creating your vision statement.
Your story and your vision statement, especially, need to be:
Some of this is Marketing 101. But if you look at any company’s vision statement, these elements will be present. In developing many mission statements, for example, we certainly, lend credence to these core principles. The goal is to sell your story in the manner of an elevator pitch; it must inform, convince, and resonate in both an intimate, one-on-one setting, as well as in front of an audience of 1,000.
4) Of course, your story must also be true.
Whatever the story about your company, your product, or yourself that you’re telling, your words must be verifiable by things like data, facts, referenceable content, and so on.An amazing origin story—whether it come in the form of a punchy mission statement or an elegiac tale of technology saving lives—doesn’t amount to much if it isn’t credible.
In other words, there mustbe evidence of execution behind the words, behind the vision set forth. Otherwise, all you have is just a nice story––something less real, less reliable.
And for a story to achieve for you all the things we’ve talked about here, that’s perhaps the most important ingredient: the listener must believein it.