Storyteller by Garry Knight

Storyteller Photo by Garry Knight

The way you get new business can be boiled down to one simple statement.  Your new customer heard and believed your story.  It is business storytelling and it may be the most important piece to your puzzle.

It could be face-to-face word of mouth; it could be on your website through a Google search; it could be on social media; it could be a traditional, old-school advertisement.  Somebody heard the story of why your product or service makes their life better and they believed it.

The evidence is mounting that the most effective (read PROFITABLE) way to tell your business’s story  has changed in the last decade.  Gone are the days when you could simply buy a big honkin’ ad in the paper and dominate the market.

It is now your job to create content (tell stories) that customers share online.  That’s the essence of Inbound Marketing.  This study by Hubspot states that “inbound marketing-dominated organizations experience a 61% lower cost per lead.”

Who Will Do Your Business Storytelling?

So who will tell your story?  Or another question would be “Who should NOT be telling your company’s story?”  My friend ThinkJose answered both the positive and negative form of the question in The Storyteller: Picking the Right Person to Create Your Content . . .

When you ask “Who will tell our story?” you should also realize that most of the time someone trained in that area of communication will be more effective than an expert on the subject matter. Sometimes the CEO or the Product Manager is not the right choice to clearly tell your story.

(One pitfall to avoid is someone who knows TOO much, and can’t speak to the novice who knows nothing about your product or service.  The Brothers Heath refer to this as “The Curse of Knowledge” in their superb Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Thrive and Others Die.)

Find a Communicator

This is a timely discussion given the dominant topic in the news this month — the election.  Whether you agreed with his politics or not, it is probably not a coincidence that the most revered (by his party, of course) presidents in several generations was known as “The Great Communicator”.  Reagan spent his early life telling stories through film.  He was a professional storyteller before he entered politics.  Did the country hear his story and believe it?  Did his marketing work?  Ask Jimmy Carter.

Where to Find Your Storyteller

  1. Look Internal.  You may have someone on staff who is a good storyteller.  Look for someone who enjoys reading, writing, great movies, and who would be just fine in front of the camera.  You are probably looking for someone with a degree in Arts rather than Sciences.  I have a History degree, mainly because I love reading and writing.  If they don’t enjoy the process, it will show through in a hurry.  Now make sure your staff member has the hours available to pull it off.  Creating content takes time.
  2. Hire An Ex-Journalist.  Sandie Young at PR2020 makes an excellent case for hiring an ex-news-journalist in her post Why Every Content Marketer Should Have Newsroom Experience. (I happen to love that title having worked for three newspapers myself.  This article in particular went through several revisions because I had initially “buried the lead”, something I picked up in the news business. (It also went through a couple of revisions based on keyword research, an SEO strategy.))  To say that the news industry has been in an upheaval in the last decade is like saying that snakes keep low to the ground.  There are lots of former newspaper folks out there looking for work.  Go get one.
  3. Hire a Diploma-Carrying Storyteller.  Another option might be finding an outright storyteller with a degree.  Where might you find such a person?  Right here in Johnson City, East Tennessee State University offers the only Storytelling Degree in the country.  Hire one of their graduates.
  4. Sub It Out.  There are a lot of benefits to hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency (like us) to tell your story for you.  One of the benefits is that you don’t have to offer benefits!  And not only will you get a combination of professional storytellers, folks who know and work in all forms of new media, you get monthly closed-loop analytics reports on your ROI.

You can staff a storyteller yourself, but be sure to factor in the training time and software expenses that come along with a fully developed Inbound Marketing implementation.  If you are not sure just how involved that is, click on the button below to see what a 9-step Inbound campaign looks like from the inside . . .

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