What Type of Story Are you?
It sounds like a bad pick-up line, but bear with me: knowing what your corporate story is, and what shape it should take, can boost your bottom line and create more warm fuzzies than you ever dreamed possible. Why is this? Because humans are social creatures; we're hard-wired to connect with and love a good story.
When I was in college, I wrote a short play called 'Broken Blinker' that won a national contest and played at The Kennedy Center. My play explored the complicated emotions surrounding the Vietnam War through the tale of two stoic Midwestern neighbors who struggle to fix a car blinker that won't turn off. It took a complex issue and distilled it down to its essence for two ordinary people whose sons were in the war.
Big ideas - love, war, corporate values - become sticky when they're packaged inside a compelling story. Which brings us back to your story. Which one(s) should your company tell? Here are some basic corporate story categories to get your brain storming:
- Founding Stories - How did you get started? What was the problem you wanted to solve? What is your company's vision? All of these questions - and others - can shape a stellar founding story that will help your prospective customers connect with you, trust you, and give you their business.
- Values Stories - Think about what your employees have done to exemplify your company's core values and then spin those valorous acts into memorable stories. Employ the age-old writing adage of 'show don't tell' whenever possible.
- Overcoming Obstacles Stories - Perfection is the enemy of authenticity, so it can help humanize your company and show what you're made of when you tell about some of the dragons you've had to slay.
- Customer Stories - A good customer story has built-in drama and contains the juicy dramatic structure we writers love. If you have a good one, it can be worth your while to share it over a variety of marketing materials to maximize its effect.
- Greater Good Stories - You'll make people feel good about giving you their business when you share stories of a company-sponsored charity event or a team-building day at the soup kitchen. Wildly successful companies that intertwine their business and philanthropic goals (think Toms Shoes) prove that customers care about advancing the greater good.
Good storytelling is an art, and smart marketing is a science. You need both to be firing on all cylinders in order to see measurable results from your corporate stories. Considerations such as medium also come into play - will you tell your story in writing or on video, on a blog or an 'About Us' page? There's a lot to consider, but luckily there are pros out there (like REQ!) who find these creative challenges to be exciting and invigorating, and we're always at your service.
As the Director of Content Strategy for REQ, I fish for stories. It's my job to find the core of the story we want to tell for each client and then - with the help of a talented team - organize all of the supporting data around that message. The digital world is fast and unforgiving - you get a second or maybe two to make an impression - so you need to make sure that your main message conveys weight, drama, and excitement. All three of these words also describe a good play, and I've come to understand that that's no coincidence.