Some of my fondest memories are from my kindergarten days. My teacher, Miss Blackman, was not only a fair disciplinarian, but also an outstanding storyteller. In fact, she ended every day reading from a different book. Miss Blackman had a way of making the words on the pages practically leap to life. She used funny voices for the characters and varying inflections and facial expressions to keep us glued to our seats. (Not an easy task to do with five- and six-year-olds.) She had a big impact on me, an impact that remains to this day. She engendered in me a love of storytelling.
I am a professional storyteller, essentially, as a journalist and a marketing copywriter. More to the point, it is my professional duty to keep an ear out for interesting tales. And believe me, sometimes even the most casual conversations with business leaders and other interview subjects are treasure troves of information. In fact, these casual conversations often lead to me telling them that they have an amazing story to tell. Their response? Surprise, even shock. It never occurred to them that someone outside of their immediate circle might find the tale interesting, or that anybody at all would find it interesting.
What they, and perhaps you, are overlooking is an opportunity to make a stronger connection with a customer, a new connection with a potential customer, and a better bond with your own employees.
Here’s some advice for you to consider:
- Your story may bore you, but it won’t bore others. I’ve yet to meet a business owner who doesn’t have a compelling or even fascinating explanation as to how he or she got into a chosen industry. One of my favorites is a “tale by accident.” There’s a yachting company that started out making kayaks and related watertoys and ended up in the fender business because its materials were far superior to those of the vendors that had been addressing the fender market. Plenty of people can related to and appreciate happy accidents.
- Add a blog to your website. The time when you could throw a website online and essentially leave it alone are long passed. The search engines aren’t the only ones pushing for regular content. Today’s consumers want to know what you’re up to, where you’re expanding, etc. By creating a blog, you can keep them updated on your latest projects, profile your best employees, even solicit their opinions on things you’re considering bringing to market. The blog doesn’t have to be fancy; a simple post once a week, even once every two weeks, will work wonders. Link back to the posts via your social media channels to drive traffic, and always ask your customers for their comments.
- Let your employees share their stories. Do you have a staff member celebrating 10/20/more years at your company? Are there any employees who are the latest of several generations to work for you? Showcase them on the blog in a Q&A, even in a fun video on YouTube or Vine.
- Let your customers shine, too. Loyal customers are loyal for a reason, so show you appreciate them even more. Host a contest on your Facebook page, or your other social media channels, where they share photos of themselves using your products and explain how long they have been doing so. Surely you can come up with other creative ways to “promote” them, too.