Telling stories is not only one of the oldest forms of communication; it is also one of the most effective. Accepting this statement as true should help you see why creating a business story is a reliable way to connect, and to create a bond with your customer that helps you rise above your competition in their eyes.
Your business story should be real and personal. The more you can connect your story to your customer, the more it will help your business. This is why we often talk about the importance of finding a niche market with which you can identify. Telling your story to your niche market helps them identify with you. Sometimes the stories and the identification become so strong, that customers will not even consider going somewhere else for their business. Doing business with you at that point becomes more than buying a product, it is a relationship.
Using the power of storytelling is easy to see in the political arena, and we are being bombarded by it the closer we get to the Presidential election. Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain are masters at the art of telling their story. Obamas is the classic story of the struggling hero who overcomes obstacles and finds himself on the heros quest. John McCains story rests more on his past successes, and the experiences of a hero who is now able to step in and solve the crises the country faces.
You and your company should learn from the lessons we are seeing in the political arena to create your story and sell it to your customers. By create I do not mean make it up, but show people who you are, what you have learned and how this relates to your business and your customers. I still remember Lee Iacoccas personal appeal on television to get people to do business with his company. His challenge to the American car buyer was bold and simple, If you find a better car . . . buy it! Surely no one would make that kind of statement unless they were supremely confident in their product. Consumers bought the dare and it saved the company.
Other stories have been used to put a face and an image on a company. Disney did it twice; once with Walt himself, and later with Michael Eisner -- both of whom came into your living room via television to tell you a story and create an image. They dont call Walt Disney Uncle Walt for nothing. It was done to create a particular image and it succeeded.
Although stories are unique to the company and individuals running them, they do follow themes. Examples are the Mother (Oprah), General (Iacocca, Jack Welch), Statesman (all former Presidents), Wizard (Steve Jobs), Explorer (Richard Branson), Faithful Servant (Al Gore), and Wise Man (Warren Buffet). Naturally, these themes rise and fall with the times -- as heroes sometimes turn into villains then goats and back again to hero -- ala Martha Stewart.
What is your story? What is the story of your company and your brand itself? How did it all come about and what is the connector to your market and customer base? The more you are able to answer these questions, and more importantly, the more you understand the importance of the story and constantly reinforce it, the stronger the bond you will build with your customer.