We always get a warm, fuzzy feeling when hearing a friend tell the story of how they met their “one true love.” It’s a magical moment when our own heart feels happiness that someone has bucked the system and found that one person who lights up their life. Its a universal feeling too, hearing a story of how someone, or something began. It has all the elements of a good movie—chance meetings, a note on a napkin, a crisis, mistaken identities, an insurmountable obstacle, and then fate intervenes, and out of the crisis is born a story of success. Sometimes its love, sometimes its survival, and sometimes, it is how your business began.
I use to live in Washington D.C. back when we rented video’s. Blockbuster was everywhere, but I went around the corner to a small, dimly lit shop that had only a quarter of the selection of movies. There was the same man there seven days a week. Always smiled and nodded when people came in and never left from behind the counter. Every time I went, he was there. And every time I went, he remembered me. Early in my visits he asked me about a necklace I wore. It reminded him of his hometown, a small village outside of Cairo where he was from. He told me how he always dreamed to come to America and have a video store. “A strange dream,” I thought, but for him, his eyes lit up as he told me how much he loved the old black and white Hollywood films. He would watch them with his grandfather and he would dream of having all those movies surrounding him for people to enjoy….and he wanted those people to be in America.
His prices were more than Blockbuster, and certainly he did not have the large selection that people would tell me about, but I was connected to him. I wanted him to succeed because I too had watched old movies with a grandparent growing up, and I would dream my dreams nestled close to her watching Bogie and Bacall. I was invested in his rags-to-riches dream because he touched my heart and in the three years I lived there I never once went to Blockbuster. I had a connection to his little shop.
How many times have you shopped somewhere just because of the story? Like Vineyard Vines, where two brothers started by selling ties out of the back of station wagon? And have you ever eaten a Baci candy? Wrapped inside is a saying of love in English and Italian–because they want everyone to be loved–I just just love that. Every day we are surrounded by the giants of retail and industry and we make choices by what our hearts tell us to do. We choose a small Montessori school because the director tells a story about her children going to a similar place when they were stationed in Italy, and “oh how their eyes still light up when they remember setting out the table linens for afternoon snack!.” Or how about the mechanic up the street who charges more than anybody else. He pops out from under the car and tells you how he and his son race cars on the weekend. He has pictures of the early days when he opened the shop so that he could be near his son and they could share their love of racing. We are connected to them.
We love stories. We get wrapped up in TV drama shows because the characters become like our family. We feel for them, we identify with their pain and joy. Hollywood was built on that connection to our hearts.And our hearts is where we ultimately decide to put our money, so why not sit down and figure out your story, and put it into your overall strategy for business success?
Don’t think you can do it?You are too small? Too big of a business? Well Chobani Yogurt started with a story, and it was that simple, heartfelt story that made them into the yogurt powerhouse they are today, so sit down and write it all out.
Here are several tips to get you started:
Tip #1: Start with the beginning: how did your business get started? What obstacles were in the way? What passions were ignited? What was the inspiration for getting it off the ground? Where did the seed begin? Was there an “aha” moment that turned everything around? Write it out. Find the old photos and the articles, your first order or paycheck. Just sit down and write out the story and a brand campaign will follow that reaches out to people, from their heart.
Tip #2: Who were the people that helped to get this thing going? I am talking about the Obi Wan Kenobi folks in your life. Mentors who challenged you to get started, pushed you perhaps. Or what about the naysayers? Some big ugly monster types who kept telling you that the sky was falling and you would fail? We need to have heroes and tyrants in order to make a story believable, and personal. We all have our critics as well as our supporters. Who were yours?
Tip #3: Why do you do what you do? What was the deep dark mission and purpose that really got this whole thing ignited? Find that and write it out, and you will have the strongest, most enduring (and endearing) strategy to success. These are small parts of the story that light up your eyes, even put a tear in them. And it cannot be dollar signs, or a laundry list of how you do what you do. It has to be the why…why you do what you do?
Tip #4: And if you really don’t have a heartfelt start-up story, then find one in your employees, or suppliers. Find rich rewarding stories in the people you serve, your customers. Who are they? How did they change, evolve, grow, and change because of you? Find their pictures and tell their stories.
It’s all there, your marketing strategy for the next five years. Its your elevator pitch, and your mission statement all in one. It is the heart and soul of your business, and we are all waiting to hear what you have to say….
So what is one business that you went to because they had a good story? Did you share their story with others?
Photo Credits: IStockphoto.com and Mechanic by Philip Bitnar via Wikimedia Commons
Published on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mariabereket/