So, if our own stories can awaken our imagination and cause us to tingle with curiosity and pride, is it possible for the stories of others – especially inanimate “beings” like companies and nonprofits – to “infuse wonder” and be a source of emotional bonding?
Consider these stories…
I don’t know about you…but, these stories definitely inspire me to learn more – connect – maybe even bond to the point where I pass along information about these companies.
Actually, in an earlier blog (06/09/13-Disconnect or Co-Creation – Part 3), I shared a real-life story about how bonding with a company worked for me. With the purchase of a new pair of running shoes, I not only received shoes with an ideal fit…but I gained a story and a slogan that re-affirms my attitude and experience each time I lace up my shoes: “Connect With Yourself. Achieve New Balance.”
In his video, Michael Margolis author of Believe Me communicates a useful perspective on the importance of stories. He leverages Peter Drucker’s concept of business as simply “Innovation plus Marketing.” In this view, an entrepreneur encounters “something” that either does not work or in some way is not quite right. That individual believes it is possible to make “it” work differently or better (innovation). From this original space of frustration, the entrepreneur must then craft or “create a new world” from which to operate (origin story). With passion driving their innovation, the entrepreneur needs to find a way to “get others to care about” their creation (marketing). This process is viewed by Mr. Margolis as essentially a series of storytelling exercises – which can manifest into several different story types including:
- The Origin story
- The Customer story
- The Product story
As many have shared – including Mr. Margolis – an organization is its stories. Stories incorporate norms and values and reflect “true belief” in an organization’s product or service. When told with passion, honesty and conviction, stories align naturally to form an interactive connection with the audience an organization is trying to reach and connect with – both internally and externally. Stories about an organization’s history (past, present and future), its Leaders (their lives, interests, dreams) its Customers (their experience, satisfaction, successes), its Employees (especially those devoting time within the community)…and so much more can have a broad scope of influence.
A powerful phrase that captured my attention in the conversation between Mr. Margolis and Robert Richman of Zappos Insights was: “We’re putting the human back in the business.”
For me, this phrase – along with my own personal background and experience – offers an excellent springboard into a discussion about the criticality of stories within business and nonprofit settings. Personally, an area of particular interest to me is the use of stories and storytelling within a marketing context – a place where stories can be created and employed to reach out and connect with specific audiences in order to create a strong emotional bond between organizations and their customers and clients – also referred to as brand loyalty.
Consumers today have little interest in being “sold to.” Instead they are desirous of “making a connection.” They want to know what an organization stands for and who’s involved. Deep, substantive, meaningful stories can satisfy that desire. Just as I shared in my last blog, hearing my family stories (and finding New Balance running shoes) stimulated my curiosity and encouraged me to connect – I was “touched” at a deep, emotional level (because of emotive content) which inspired me to engage.
As the conversation between Mr. Margolis and Mr. Richman travels through my thoughts, I pause to consider how often these days our primary relationships seem to be with our computers (or some other electronic device). Within this world – rich in single-dimensional relationships void of emotional bonds – companies and individuals continually seek ways to encourage engagement and unfold ways to connect.
Looking back over our past, it is difficult to deny that stories has occupied a critical place in our culture and society. For centuries, stories have provided powerful tools for transferring knowledge within a social environment. Sharing and interpreting experiences allows us to gather knowledge and learn how to apply that knowledge. Stories are universal and naturally adaptive. Ethics, values, cultural norms, and even differences among people and styles can be learned and passed along in concert with others. Storytelling bridges potential divides – culturally, linguistically, and at differing stages of life. Stories give an organization “voice” in today’s cluttered world. A broad variety of technologies allow stories (once they’re written) to be consumed across different mediums.
Since stories in and of itself are very diverse and divergent, the National Storytelling Network (NSN) has proposed and posted the following definition along with five bullet point to clarify and elaborate on their web site. That definition and one bullet (which I’ve merged and shared below) clung to me:
“Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the “active imagination of the listeners.”
From a marketing perspective…unlike the past where “the product was the story” today “the story is the product.” And, according to PJ Lynch…”the journey begins with the written manuscript (or story).
So, in closing, I pose the same question to you that Mr. Margolis asks:
IS YOUR STORY WORTH TELLING?
If so, are you ready to begin the journey? Putting YOUR story into compelling, emotive content that attracts the right customers or clients begins that journey. If you’d like to explore your story ideas or need some help selecting the right words to write that story…consider my Merchant Circle coupon offer.
© 2013 EM Carlock
The Write Resources, LLC™ – www.the-write-resources.com