Why Terrible Storytelling is Ruining Your Business

Why Terrible Storytelling is Ruining Your Business

Marketing is about telling your story. Sales is about allowing the prospect to tell their story.

Storytelling is the key to success.

Pick a random selection of 12 web sites and try to understand the story they are telling. What does their brand stand for? What do they do? It’s not pretty. We are dreadful at story telling.

We mumble through jargon filled nonsense, in a language your PR company thought sounded authentic!

Why are we so bad? I believe it starts with confusion around the most basic of tenets – Who we are. Bad storytelling starts with a lack of clarity around our identity. What business are we in?

e.g. here are real examples of web sites explaining their business:

  • Since 1969, Kitchen Brains® has earned more than thirty-two U.S and European patents on timers, control processes, communications and appliance networking software. From grilling, frying and baking to holding, serving and tracking, we continue to innovate and are renowned worldwide for our design ingenuity and manufacturing excellence. Our cost-effective solutions are configurable, customizable and licensable, thus speeding our customers time to market and providing a greater competitive advantage.
  • Quality Interactions emerged as the forerunner in cultural competency training for healthcare organizations in 2003, and we continue to lead the field by providing learning solutions that incorporate real-life scenarios and a research-based approach to cross-cultural communication.
  • Dispatch offers a number of customizable products and back-end feature sets allowing for quick integrations and a simple launch process.
  • OIKOS Software’s mission is to improve process performance and increase key stakeholder satisfaction through logicality and defect reduction. We engage in producing high quality software applications and services, shortening internal cycle processes that impact time value and cost.

Why are we using so many words? What would Malcolm Gladwell say? In his best seller, The Tipping Point he identified three key ingredients:

  1. The Law of the Few, why the messenger is unreasonably important.Let’s unpack this for your business. We understand that 20% of public companies represent 80% of the value of the stock market. We understand the 80:20 rule. We understand in many industries there are a few dominant players then a long tail of smaller players. Well it’s the same with viral storytelling, “a tiny % of people do the majority of the work”. You need to understand that in your business you need to develop very good storytellers. People who can engage in deep conversations. Is your sales team filled with well trained messengers who can diagnose the prospect, who define themselves by the questions they ask, who sound and talk like businessmen not sales people?
  2. Stickiness, the need for a compelling story.Do you have a compelling story? A simple, laconic narrative of what your remarkable at! Is this messaging reinforced in all marketing collateral? As Gladwell states, “The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much impact it makes”.
  3. Context, how human beings are ultra sensitive to their environment.Are you using vocabulary in your marketing and sales scripts that your prospects understand, recognize, relate to? Does the prospect believe your solution is relevant to their world? It’s about them not you.

So telling compelling stories is a key skill for the CEO and the leadership team. Just think of the plethora of situations that demand outstanding storytelling:

  • CEOs explaining their strategy to employees
  • Marketing leaders defining the exact space the company is trying to monopolize
  • Sales teams translating the marketing message into clear business results you can achieve for customers
  • Acquirer’s persuading a seller of a business why the deal makes sense
  • Raising finance is all about telling a story, really well
  • Motivating your team will always be about great story telling

You can get many things right in scaling your business but if your story is not contagious, not told by talented messengers and lacks context for the audience, it will fail to connect. Great story telling and successful entrepreneurs are symbiotic.

Reach out if you want to scale by telling a better story. Ian@TPPBoston.com

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