Anyone can write content. People write all day long.
But it takes something more to tell a great story about the very same topic.
I’m not talking about the things we expect to be told as stories. I’m talking about the run of the mill, boring old every day stories.
Take for instance dirty carpets.
Boring, right? Everyone has carpeting (or rugs) in his or her homes. And they get dirty simply by being on the floor and underneath our feet. Fact of life.
And we either have to clean them on a regular basis, or face the consequences.
So when a typical professional carpet cleaner decides to market his business, chances are he turns to the same ideas used year after year after year. He creates a brochure, an ad for the local paper, and a simple website that focuses in on his services:
- What he does – deep cleaning with rotating brushes to get out even the toughest stains
- How much he charges – Holiday special: clean three rooms get one free
- His guarantee – we guarantee we’ll get the stains out or we’ll clean it again for free
Is there any other way?
Yep, it’s in the storytelling. Let me show you how even something as boring as carpet cleaning can turn into a viral story.
My Baby Almost Died
A few years ago, it was almost Christmas. We were so excited. We had a new house, a new baby, and the family get together was going to be at our house. So I hired a professional carpet cleaner to clean the carpets before the big day arrived.
I allowed a day for drying, then started the next day like all the others. I put my 9 month old daughter on the floor to play with her books and toys while I baked in the kitchen. After a few minutes, I heard her making a funny sound. When I walked in to take a closer look, I saw her red faced, choking, with a funny rash on her hands and face. I quickly dialed 911 and we spent the rest of the morning in the ER.
Yes, that fateful day I discovered there is more to cleaning carpets then hiring the first carpet cleaning company you find. Professional carpet cleaners are focused in on getting your carpets clean – not how they impact your family’s health.
For me, it started me on a quest to find out if there was a truly safe way to clean your carpets. Turns out there is.
I have your attention, now right? There’s a story behind how this person approaches professional carpet cleaning, and has a very powerful story to go along with why she started her company.
If you have kids, would you listen? Of course.
And that’s ultimately what stories do.
The Storytelling Tools
It sounds easy enough. But if you’ve ever sat down and tried to write out a story – whether its for a brochure, your website, or a blog post – stories are hard to come by. That’s because you’re focused in on the wrong things.
By trait, if you’re over, say, the age of 30, you’re used to marketing the old way. Have a product or service and push, push, push until they buy.
Try that in the new world and you’ll fail, fail, fail.
Storytelling is about what you say and what you do. And in today’s society, we have all the tools we need to become instant storytellers, whether we’re a stay at home mom or a CEO of a major corporation.
A stay at home mom’s story is going to be about her daily activities. Taking little Susie to the park. The great lunch with three friends from high school. The dinner she’s planning for Friday night. She shares what is happening in her life.
It’s no different for the CEO. She’ll talk about the book she just published. The three celebrities she shared the stage with at a recent expo. The client who shared a story about how her product changed her life.
In either case, they can mention something they love – whether they sell it or not – and they instantly can cause a stir amongst their friends.
If the stay at home mom says “I just visited Anthony’s – they have pizza to die for”, do you think her friends will listen and put Anthony’s on their list of restaurants to try out in the future? Yes, 10 people may see it, but 10 new customers can be a game changer for a local restaurant.
If the CEO says “I was late to the airport when my BMW broke down. A quick call to Stevens BMW and I had a ride to the airport from the president himself, and my car waiting for me in the airport’s valet when I returned two days later. I’ll never shop for a car anywhere else!” How many people do you think she could influence in her network? And with a post or tweet like this, she could literally influence thousands of people … and she won’t make a dime from this kind of interaction.
So what if you’re at the beginning stages of a business idea and you aren’t sure where to start?
Start with your story.
- Why are you doing this?
- What brought you here?
- What motivated you?
- What gives you energy?
- What do you hope to do for your customers?
- How are you going to change the world?
Once you have your story in place, everything you do – whether its writing a blog post, sharing your About Us on your site, sending out a tweet, or giving a talk at a convention – should be based on your story. Its that easy.