On September 24, we welcomed a robust group of people to Detroit City Distillery for our first Message, Meaning, Purpose event. Called What’s Your Story, this event was intended to bring people together in a free, networking opportunity, at a great local place. And, we wanted to offer some storytelling marketing wisdom to take with them in an effort to boost marketing efforts.
We transformed a couple of delicious cocktails, one alcoholic and one without, renaming them The Storyteller and What’s Your Story? We had snacks (truffle popcorn and cheese plates). We donned name tags and introduced ourselves to everyone in the place.
Simply put, stories tell us what we value, what matters to us. Stories tell us who we are, grounded in time and place and context. Stories connect us to other people.
Stories express the inherent humanity in all of us.
And, since people do business with people, we must transform our business perspective to one of human-based transaction. What is the why behind a purchase? Why does anyone decide to buy?
Because they feel they matter, they’re seen, they’re heard. Because in making a purchase, they believe their lives will be better, and they are grateful to the purveyor for making it possible.
The inspiring marketing guru Seth Godin has often said that we are in a connection economy, where stories are the currency.
The words you use send a message and a picture of what you stand for and who you are. So, how do you choose your words?
I can tell several stories about how my business came to be. One version is that, as a journalist writing for magazines and newspapers across the country, I realized how the journalism landscape was changing. At the same time, I was becoming a single mother of three very young children, and I needed to make sure I could support my family. I thought about how I might use my skills to help businesses and nonprofits better position themselves.
This was at the time that social media was becoming big, and I realized we were facing a crisis of loneliness. People were connecting more than ever, but in a very lonely way, behind screens, sitting alone at desks or in line at the grocery.
So I set about helping companies connect with their customers in meaningful ways, actually caring about them, offering mutual benefit – you patronize my business, and I’ll listen to you because I care about you. You matter here. And we matter to you.
The business I built focuses on helping people connect through transactions, in real ways. Building relationships. Seeing each other. Hearing each other. Knowing they matter.
I’m not afraid to emphasize the details of where I was in life when I created Your People. I was getting divorced, and my mother were 1, 3, and 5 years old at the time. The economy was in a downward spiral. My house value was upside down. And the newspapers and magazines I wrote for during the decade priority were closing their doors.
It could have been a scary time.
I chose to transform that time and position myself to be able to support my children, and not put them in day care. I worked from home. I was scrappy. I used my talents to earn a living, keep my house, clothe my kids.
I share such details because it shows my human vulnerability, and someone, somewhere might feel in good company with a person who can be honest and not hide behind the perfect snapshot.
How do you talk about the work that you do?
How are you improving people’s lives?
How are you making the world better?
When I work with a client to answer these questions and craft their marketing story, we determine what words we can string together in a way that SHOWS, rather than TELLS, what they stand for, and why someone should engage with them.
Driven by the belief that there is no such thing as competition if you are doing the work for the right reasons, we don’t define our clients, or ourselves, as what we are in comparison to other companies in the same industry.
We all have plenty of choices for purchases and transactions. In today’s economy, you have to stand for something more than just the service or product you offer if you want to build customer loyalty and repeat business. It has to TRANSCEND TRANSACTION.
After I spoke for a while at our event, I invited participants to start crafting their stories.
First, they wrote the 5 words that best describe the work they do, considering it from their customer’s perspective.
What would they say about you. Why they do business with you?
Then, participants introduced themselves to someone they didn’t know and shared their five words, asking for feedback. Some people had the same words in very different industries.
Next, I invited our participants to write some details about their business origin story.
What led them to start their business or do the work they do? I asked them to create 3 sentences that explain this origin story in a compelling way.
Next, they approached another new person and shared their brief origin story, again inviting feedback.
From what I heard, everyone who attended felt they gained some insight and inspiration into how they might use their story to build business. Stay tuned for our next Message, Meaning, Purpose opportunity!!
Lynne Golodner is founder and Chief Creative Officer of Your People LLC. She is also a Fulbright Specialist, author of 8 books and thousands of articles, and the mother of four teenagers.