If You Want Me To Care, Tell Me Your Story

by Ken Mueller on October 25, 2012 · 37 comments

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Yesterday I had the privilege of taking my new friend, Boža from the Czech Republic, to a meeting with the owners of my favorite local coffee shop, Square One Coffee. I’ve known the owners, Josh & Jess Steffy for a few years, and fully support what they are trying to do with their business.

As I stood there listening to Jess tell the story of Square One, and as she mentioned things like third wave coffee, and how they want to make a difference in the lives of the farmers producing their coffee, I got excited. But the cool thing about this was that this wasn’t the first time I’ve heard their story. I’ve heard Jess tell this story quite a few times, but it’s a great story and to hear the passion with which she tells it, I really do get inspired and fired up. Their story  never gets old.

Because I know the story, Square One is much more than just a coffee shop to me. The story makes me want to support the business and its endeavors. I care.

Not every business has a story like Square One, but every business does have a story.

Tell me your story, and tell it with passion. Let me see the love that you have for your business and what you do. Show me how everything you do stems from that story. Use words, videos, and images. Tell it the best way you can.

If you don’t think you have a story, or you’re story is not one of which you are proud, change it. Don’t make one up, but start a new chapter in your story that is one you want to tell; one which makes you proud and makes me want to care. You can’t fake your story, but you can change it and improve it.

What is your story and how are you telling it?

 

 If You Want Me To Care, Tell Me Your Story
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37 comments
GIDSelling
GIDSelling

So true. It goes back to the beginning of time. There was man. Man had stories. We are hardwired by God to not only be drawn into stories but to understand them. I once heard a preacher say that preaching was going from verse/mandate/exhortation to engaged storytelling. That was 10 years ago. I have been telling stories in sales calls every since. It changed my sales career. If sales boils down to getting the person in front of me to believe what I believe, there is no better way than telling a story.

jaqstone
jaqstone

I enjoyed this post because it brought to mind the businesses I've enjoyed because I knew their story. I don't tell mine very often because its long, dramatic, and while it got me where I am it's not who I am anymore. Hit by a car, disabled with 5 kids at 43, couldn't accept life was basically over, went to college, built a web site, learned to blog, hubby didn't like new me and left, lost my house, had a stroke that damaged the left side of my brain - communication, motor skills, but woke up the right side - creativity! Discovered photography and art, among other aspects of me I didn't know were there. Now I'm a professional photographer and artist with one published ebook and 3 blogs. My passion for creative expression is childlike because I went 50 years not knowing what creativity feels like.

Erin F.
Erin F.

I guess, to borrow a term from @jasonkonopinski and @geoffliving, I'm a transmedia storyteller, and it's something I encourage other businesses to consider. Words may be my favorite tool, but I know the effectiveness of other ones (and some of them I really, really like). The other day, some people were talking about how they had to blog and how they wished they could write the way they talk. I asked them why they didn't consider podcasts or video. If they already feel resentful about having to write, they're going to have a hard time maintaining momentum.

Latest blog post: Death to Busy Work

magriebler
magriebler

For me it's been helpful to think about story as that point of interaction between brand (personal or organization) and audience. Want to know what your story is? Look at what consumers are doing with your product or service; listen to what they're saying. While some of the recent Suburu ads make me crazy (washing the INSIDE of the car? Really, kids?), they get at an essential element of good storytelling. It's not about the car; it's about what people DO with their car. And in the case of Suburu, the company shows us how cars (and especially Suburus) are at the heart of modern family life.

Brands that lose sight of their story forget that it really isn't about them at all; it's about their audience, its perception and its experience.

And, Ken, I wholeheartedly agree that videos and images are powerful tools for storytelling. I saw a study not long ago that said of the top 10 brands on Facebook, users liked photos twice as often as text updates. And they shared videos 12 times more than photo and text posts combined. It's a brave new world for content creation!

higginbomb
higginbomb

Great post! I always try to tell the stories of the people involved in projects/teams I work with. People relate to other people and it's so much easier and more genuine to communicate an organization's mission, its commitment to the community, etc. by focusing on the people behind that organization.

jaqstone
jaqstone

@KenMueller Thanks for your reply, Ken. It's in my email but I don't see it here. Here's the stroke part of my story:

http://consciousnessjourney.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-stroke-was-gift.html  

The whole story has never been written out in one piece because it's depressing. I stopped telling it to stop living from a story of brokenness and move into a different way of living. However, my Recovering from Abuse blog is still visible as it still helps those in the process of healing. It shares aspects of what eventually led me here. http://recoveringfromabuse.blogspot.com

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@jaqstone That's an incredible story and would love to hear more. Is there a link you can share with us?

magriebler
magriebler

@Erin F. Absolutely. It's important to go with our strengths and there are plenty of options for pushing out messages today. Short videos are so easy to create they can also be a time saver. Keeping it short, however, is where many of us struggle.

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

@Erin F.  I think @geoffliving especially is a great example of someone who understands how to truly tell a story using images, and not merely as supplementary material to the written word. It's something that I'm trying to do more often in my own work and posts, but I have a long way to go in that department.  

Working in various mediums is creatively challenging & that's why I do it. :) 

ADemme
ADemme

@magriebler I love your point about reading the story about your brand. Could you direct me to the study that you mentioned? I would love to read that. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@magriebler Social is very visual. If all we see our words, we get bored. Images can really draw us in. And videos shared by people we trust also draw us in. Storytelling needs to include all the elements.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@higginbomb That's the thing, the story of a business or organization isn't just the business itself. It's the employees, the customers,  it can be anyone!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@douglaserice I think that's a great way of putting it: brand vs. commodity. And often I think businesses don't even think about their story, or they've lived with it so long, they don't find it interesting, so they don't tell anyone.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@magriebler Indeed. One of my videos is almost ten minutes long, but the subject required that amount of time. I do aim to keep them short, though.

Latest blog post: Death to Busy Work

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@jasonkonopinski @Erin F. @geoffliving It's really important to connect them all. The Internet has changed a lot of how we are wired to communicate and comprehend within various contexts. When you talk about people writing like they talk, one exercise is to record their story, but then transcribe it to text, much like an oral history and the work of folks like Alan Lomax. 

Transmedia storytelling, while becoming increasingly popular, and seen as a "newer" form of storytelling, actually dates to the 1930s (perhaps the 20s), through the 50s, and then sort of disappeared until more recently. Though clearly it wasn't as widespread as it is now, due to an increasing number of media choices. And it really transcends just the use of video, images, and texts online.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@jasonkonopinski @geoffliving  When I first started blogging - not really for business, not yet - I participated in the thirty-day challenge from the American Diabetes Association. What I liked about it was that not all the posts were written. Once a week, the challenge was to post an image that told a story. 

One reason I didn't pursue work in advertising is that I like stories too much. (I'm also terrible at writing catchy headlines.) Most of my art has some sort of story to or behind it.

Latest blog post: Death to Busy Work

magriebler
magriebler

@ADemme Let me see if I can find it! I had it scribbled down in my Moleskin. (Name dropper!)

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@jasonkonopinski @Erin F. @geoffliving Jay is one of the best radio producers out there, and really forward thinking. I just actually reached out to him and sent him a message about possibly writing a guest post for me, so we'll see!

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

@KenMueller @Erin F. @geoffliving Some of the academic work in this area sees transmedia worldbuilding even in ancient civilization vis-a-vis the visual arts, performance theater and more. 

The term "transmedia" wasn't really coined until the early 1990s, though the form existed conceptually well before that. Participatory entertainment has been a hallmark of the many of the world's artistic traditions. 

I'll have to dig into Transom. Thanks! 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Erin F. @jasonkonopinski @geoffliving Some of the best work in this area is being done thru a website called http://transom.org/. My friend Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media began this site quite a few years ago (I'm thinking it's about 12-15 years old) and is an incubator for the concept of storytelling "in the changing media environment".  I'm currently working with the MIT Media Lab on a piece related to the transmedia efforts of the early part of the 20th century. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@magriebler Nah, I think I got it down. Just an idea that popped into my head

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