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Hint: It’s not about you — it’s about them
Think of your favourite story. A book, a movie, a piece of art. Chances are there is consistent structure running through all of them, no matter what form they take. While every good story might not end with the beautiful girl getting saved by a guy in armour, there are a lot of similarities in how humans tell stories.
Before stories were a thing that were put in books and sold as entertainment, they were how we understood the world as humans. How we passed on ideas, knowledge, how we educated the generations to come. In other words, to tell stories is something fundamentally human, that we've done for as long as we've existed as a species.
So what are the common threads in stories? Generally speaking, there's a protagonist, or hero, who has a problem, but can't overcome it by themselves; they're in need of some outside help. A guiding force. (ie. no man, or woman, is an island — even Tom Hanks needed Wilson).
Now, let’s take that framework of a story and apply it to business.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is who am I in this story, and where do I fit in? Often, businesses see themselves as the hero of the story. But that's where they fall short. You're the guide, and your customers are the hero of your brand story — because they help you achieve your business goals. They're the ones with the problem, and you need to provide the solution — whether it’s a new pair of sneakers so they can go running, or a bag of beans for their coffee machine. As a business, we want to be able to help our customers solve their problems and fulfill all their hopes and dreams, big, small and mundane. We want to give them a fairytale ending every time.
Understanding this will change the way you talk about your business. It will change the way you talk to your customers.
“Simply telling a story can be a healing act. You discover clarity purely by expressing what has happened. Confusion dissipates. What has always amazed me is that no matter what the event, whether good or bad, the first question asked by any well-meaning reporter is ‘How do you feel?’, to which the standard response is so often, ‘I can't...I don't have the words.’ We are all seeking emotional clarity when we tell a story.”
— Do/Story, Bobette Buster
How many times have you gone to a website and the business is more interested in themselves than they are in helping you, a customer, solve your problem? It’s all about them, not you. If they spend all their time talking about how great they are, where does the customer fit in the story? Where’s the connection. I'm not one to throw out history, but you don’t always have to lead with the background of the business. Highlight that you've been in business for 60 years. Because ultimately the story about your founder is just another way of saying, ‘we’re experienced, you can trust us.’
Instead of leading with ‘we're the best’, say something that's oriented around your customer's problem. At ONETOO, that means saying we make beautiful websites to help your business grow. We don't say, we make the best websites, we say we make really good websites for you and your business, and believe that your business will grow because of it.
Orient your communications and story around the idea that you are the guide. Frame your communication around helping customers solve everyday problems and speak to them on their level. That way your customer will always be the hero, and you’ll win their business.