Have you crafted your story so well that others are likely to share it over cocktails at a dinner party? If you're like most entrepreneurs, you probably haven't. Most founders take the time to think about their company's mission and purpose, and that's hard enough. But having a mission and a purpose is not the same thing as expert storytelling. "A computer on every desktop" was a great mission for Microsoft, but it pales in comparison to Steve Job's epic story of Apple--which everyone knows, but is not particularly easy or simple to tell (it took Walter Isaacson 656 pages).
If you're looking to boost your company's growth, start with a simple and easy-to-tell story that is compelling and gets to the heart of why people should work with you. A couple of examples will help illustrate this point:
When you begin to look for them, these stories are all around us. They help us distill which businesses we should pay attention to and care about. Expert storytelling is more compelling than any traditional marketing or advertising techniques; these stories generate awareness and extremely compelling Word of Mouth marketing that is, as MasterCard would tell you, "Priceless".
Is compelling storytelling limited to "consumer" products? Absolutely not. Just ask Julie Roehm, whose title is "Chief Storyteller" of B2B software company, SAP. She was hired by CEO Bill McDermott to leverage the power of expert storytelling to help SAP reach its vision: to help the world run better and improve people's lives. How? By tackling problems that have a big impact on the world; to have SAP play a role in solving the problem for multiple clients with advanced technology.
What's Julie Roehm's advice? "Write a story you could tell to anyone, anywhere. Make it so simple that anyone from a child in kindergarten to the Chairman of the Board can understand." She has led SAP's teams to break storytelling down into 5-step process:
In short, how has SAP made the world a better place to live? At this point you might be thinking, "sure, that's SAP, they're a massive global company working with the best companies in the world" and you'd be right. But if your objective is to grow, you first have to envision how what you do matters; and I mean how it really matters, not just what sounds good, but what is good for the world. That's when you have found your purpose and the purpose of your company. Only then can you truly tell an expert story that's worth repeating.
Expert storytelling works because deep down, you're passing what our ancestors referred to as "tribal knowledge"--information that sounds important (even vital) to our success as human beings. From ways to eat healthier (Jared's Subway story) to delivering happiness (Zappos) to buying shoes that help clothe the world (Tom's) or even how better data and metrics help you win an unfair fight (Oakland A's). If your story matters, it will be shared, retold and passed on. By doing what matters and telling a story that matters, you will ignite a passion among people that is inherently sharable and provide an organic boost to your company's growth and long-term viability.