It's clear that we're moving rapidly towards an era of complete transparency in the business world. We can now see into the "windows" of companies through review sites and social media, and it seems like companies have nowhere to hide their scandals anymore (a big win for consumers, to be sure).
Every Millennial knows that this trend towards transparency is here to stay, which means it's time for all of us to ask: How can we capitalize on this move towards transparency to grow our businesses?
To that end, the following exercise will help you understand and use this new trend to increase sales in any industry.
The Corporate Storytelling Model
I call this technique the Corporate Storytelling Model. It's a simple way to create branded communications that resonate with your precise target market, no matter what that market is.
First, start with a blank whiteboard (or blackboard if you want to be old-school), and write out all of the operational workflows of your brand. How did you develop your products and services? What are your operational or development processes? How and where do customers interact with your brand?
When you step back and look at all of the areas of your business - from ideation to manufacturing to customer service and sales - what you have is a beautiful web of authentic stories related to how you've developed your offering.
If you begin to think of each of your operational elements as a storytelling opportunity, you'll realize that your processes, your people and your stories comprise all the marketing messaging you will ever need to communicate your brand to the world in a transparent, authentic, and successful way.
How to use it to win more business
Let's be honest: When you're selling, there's always too little time to fully express all of the features and benefits of your product or service.
The beauty of this model is that it doesn't matter if you have enough time, because you don't care one bit about communicating those features and benefits.
Instead, all you have to do is help your prospect have a positive epiphany about what you're selling, which requires you to focus on what problem you're solving, what circumstances led to your solution, and why your solution is a natural and unique way to solve the problem at hand.
In other words, this strategy is about sharing the journey, not the destination.
By the way, in the process of telling your genesis story, you'll be sharing with them your corporate values, mission, company structure, highs and lows of development, and connecting with your prospect much more deeply than product attributes alone could ever achieve.
Craft authentic, human connections
The Corporate Storytelling Model is meant to engender trust and build rapport, first and foremost. The beauty of it is that no competitor can copy you because your stories are unique to you and your company.
You don't even have to put your best foot forward when you transparently reveal your processes. For instance, Domino's Pizza famously exposed its product transformation in an ad campaign, telling the world about how and why it was changing its pizza recipe. The result was an astounding decades-long stock price increase as it continued to make good on its promise to improve.
Keep in mind that you can also create stories that reflect your company's personality. Take Virgin Airlines, which took one of its most mundane processes -- the safety video -- and turned it into a singing and dancing spectacle that revealed how Virgin regards the idea of safety in the sky.
The key here is to be willing to expose your soul to your prospects and let them see what drives you toward excellence -- because that drive is ultimately why prospects will choose your solution over your competitors'.
Be honest about the prospect's mindset
Admittedly, it's difficult to persuade some entrenched brands to avoid bombarding prospects with features and benefits, because that's all they've ever done. But, ultimately we must all admit that nobody cares to hear our sales pitch.
Instead, we have the opportunity to share our human stories from within the organization, help prospects understand our thinking and help them agree with us that our solution was well thought-out and helpful for them.
Think of it this way: Would you tell punchlines without setups? Reveal the end of a movie to a friend before telling them the entire plot? In this same way, we must get better at telling authentic stories that put prospects in the passenger seat right alongside us.
When you can communicate to your prospects with an exceptional Corporate Storytelling Model, your brand will have everything it needs to endear prospects to you and close more business.
That's the best story of all.