Everyone has a story…what’s yours?

picture by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

picture by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

If you’re like most business owners I know, you would like to be more effective when it comes to marketing – and it turns out there is a recipe that can help you do just that if you’re willing to give it a try. I’ve had the “opportunity” to do a lot of travelling the last few weeks – spring break with the family, a couple of trips to Richmond VA to deliver training and down to Dallas for a nephew’s wedding. All of that airport / travel time has helped me realize 2 key things:

1. Flying, especially if you have to make a connection somewhere, is a lot more like gambling than it should be. There are a lot of things that can and likely will go wrong. Especially if you’re on US Air…or if you’re flying through Charlotte…or Philadelphia…

2. There’s a huge volume and variety of people out in the world. When you head out and spend some quality time at multiple airports you start to realize just how big our little corner of the world actually is – an average flight might have 130 or so people onboard…but in a 4 hour period of time (waiting for your flight that got bumped) you will literally see 1000’s of people from all walks of life and from all sorts of places.

And – they all have a story.

I’m not necessarily talking about an epic Hollywood blockbuster kind of story (although I guess that’s possible) – but simple stories – who they are, what they’re all about or even just why they’re travelling. Here are a couple of quick examples that I found:

– the woman bringing her 8 week old puppy home for the first time after picking him up at the breeder (and the dozens of people nearby who were conflicted by how cute the puppy was and how they hoped they weren’t going to be sitting near her for the flight…).

– the man who got rerouted at the last minute and ended up with a middle seat…but made up for that by spending the entire 2 hour flight talking about his family and how excited he was to catch up with his grandchildren.

– the woman who explicitly detailed out her most recent romantic encounter with a guy she’s been wanting to go out with for a couple of years (she was talking to a friend of hers on the phone…and I wasn’t trying to listen, but she was over 20 feet away and clear as a bell with way too much information….).

Stories are how we connect and engage…

Anyway – the point is that all the people we see every single day have stories to tell. And it’s those stories that others relate to. It’s a story that grabs your attention and educates you, entertains you or informs you.

Studies have shown that the single best way to get a point across to someone is in the form of a story. We are physically wired to relate to stories – in fact your brain can’t always tell the difference between what’s happening to you in real life vs. what’s happening to the main character in a story (which is why your body sometimes responds with adrenaline, higher heart rate, etc. to exciting movies and books).

As a business owner one of your biggest challenges is getting the right people to engage with you…getting people to decide they want to buy your stuff. That’s where YOUR stories come in – and it’s a distinct lack of those stories (or any kind of personal engagement) that makes marketing a challenge for a lot of businesses.

Does your About page have a story?

If I’m checking out a new business one of the first things I’m likely to do is to go check out their About page (or the equivalent). There’s almost always something on their website that gives some background but rarely is there anything engaging. Going back to the story concept – I want to know who you are (give me some pictures or at least a background), I want to something what makes you tick…yes I want to know what you do, but I really am interested in why you’re doing it. If possible I’d like to have a story makes it all come together.

Take a quick look at your About page. Is it possible that you could cut and paste your page into someone else’s website and no one would know the difference?  Does it look and feel corporate and too professional?

I first saw this sentiment from Jeffrey Gitomer in his Little Black Book of Connections but I’m sure it’s been covered in a lot of other places:

“People buy from people that they Know, Like and Trust”

Based on your about page, can people start to get to Know, Like and Trust you? Are there other ways they can do that on your website (personal videos? blog posts? pod casts?).

It’s a big world out there but everyone has a story to tell and the best way to get people to start engaging with you is to make sure you’re telling your story.

What do you think? Are stories important? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach