authentic, Authenticity, brand journalism, brand storytelling, business storytelling, change, conversations, corporate storytelling, Don Quijote, expectation, hero, Human, listening, Storytelling, surprise, target groups, true story, Truth
Here are 11 ingredients that will get you to your successful business story.
It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth the effort. It needs determination, honesty, and courage. The willingness to introspect, listen, experiment, learn, and optimize based on what you learn.
These ingredients, or tips, don’t necessarily need to come in the below order, nor does it suffice to go through all of them just once, over and out, success here you come! There’s a lot of inevitable repetition in these efforts, a kind of “perpetuum mobile of business story”.
Here we go:
1. It’s listening time, the age of attention and conversation. So: Listen to your audiences. Find out who they really are. What they really need, what they want. And where and how they want it.
2. Observe your competition. Don’t be a “Me Two”. Be different. Be authentically you.
3. You can only be you, if you know who you are. So: Find your big story, your identity, your character, your DNA. Again, this can only be achieved by listening. To yourself, your own organization from top bottom, left to right. To your audiences (or target groups, as you might call them). See where the delta is, where it matches, where it doesn’t. And somewhere amidst that cacophony of data: there’s your big story. Once you find it: stick to it!
4. Continuously search for all the stories within and without your organization that fill your big story with proof and bring it to life – credibly and authentically, verifiably and true. No matter how small or irrelevant they may seem: They are the only currency you have that differentiates you from your competition. Messages, Brand Ambitions, Visions, and all those bullshit-bingo Whatchmacallits are interchangeable, just hot air, written by expensive agencies to make you feel special. What truly makes you special are your stories, and your people or the people who make up your target audiences, for they are your stories’ heroes. And nobody else!
5. Become Sinatra, find your way, and then do it your way. If you believe in your idea’s brilliance and capability to tell all your stories great and small, the stories that in the end all make your big story, the accuracy of fit to your character, then go for it! Always follow The STORYCODEX of Expectation, Surprise and Change … and eliminate the taste factor. Nothing worse than management killing an idea just because they can. Because they have a position within your hierarchy that demands of you to ignore or tolerate that they don’t have a bloody clue what they’re talking about. Oh and: If these grey-suited folks demand of you to make their product the hero, remind them of the Ninth Commandment, the one about lying and false witness. A product can NEVER be a hero, and thou shalt never attempt to do so, thou will fail!
6. If your idea, your concept is truly brilliant, unique, something different, maybe even a little crazy: There’ll be armies of Bedenkenträger in their trenches, armed with “Buts” and “We’ve never done this before’s”. This should encourage you, not the opposite: You’re probably on the right track. To get past the army of doubters, call your project a “pilot”. Management feels comfortable with pilots, has a finite touch, limited risk and all that crap.
7. Once your pilot’s taken off, make no casualties, no compromises. Be resilient and consequent. The windmills of doubt and Schadenfreude will be blowing into your face from all directions. Don’t let them stop you. And find yourself a trustful companion who will stick by your side, even if one or the other of the journey’s adventures turns out to be a failure or at least different than expected. If this companion is also willing and able to tell your story and stories, a good and true storyteller, who doesn’t necessarily need to be an experts in your field of business, all the better. He (or she) just needs to understand you and be able to translate your management brand identity mission-vision-value-proposition messaging bullshit into stories somebody actually wants to hear.
8. Even if you’re out (or in) there alone, all by yourself: Be consistent, stick to who you are, what you believe in. Work on your own little moonwalk and surprise audiences and critiques, leave them awestruck.
9. How do you convince critiques and Benkenträger, prove them wrong? Right: through hard facts and figures they can’t neglect or deny. Seriously, anything procurement sharks, engineers or sales guys trust more than numbers on a paper or screen or power point? So give em what they want: Develop objective KPI’s, measure every customer’s every movement and interaction with your story, present the results in a comprehensible and comprehensive way, and then: Poke your tongue at them, or – if the figures suggest so – have the guts to admit they were right, and it didn’t work.
10. All along the way, every second of your adventure of finding yourself, understanding your competitors and your audience(s), finding all your stories great and small, finding your formula, pulling it through and sticking to your idea like Jacko to white socks … make sure you do it with someone you trust. Someone on your wavelength, with the same vision, as well as balls and management position to back you up when the FBI is up your fundament to shut your business down.
11. Last, but oh so very not least: Every truly unique, innovative and successful business story needs … investment. Not only of money, although it needs a lot of that also, make no mistake; investment in the stories themselves, of course, but also for the stories’ marketing, as nobody is really waiting for your corporate story! But you mainly need to invest a looooot of time, and need to give your story project time to grow, like a tree: from seed to graft to full-grown plant. In a nutshell: You need Herzblut: belief, commitment, passion, and stamina.