So, What’s Your Story?

October 29, 2013

We see it all the time.

In agribusiness, companies – successful companies, mind you – struggle with telling a compelling story. It’s easy to see how it happens. You’ve developed a good product or service and you want to tell the world about it, right?

But the “shout from the rooftop” method of telling that story often results in a lot of chest thumping that leaves the audience wanting to chew their own arm off for stimulation.

Think of it this way. If you meet someone at a dinner party and all they want to talk about is how great they are, how likely are you to be interested for longer than, say, five seconds?

Storytelling matters.

We work with a couple of clients who actually had great stories to tell. However, one client found itself trying to be everything to everybody. Or worse yet, another client wasn’t really sure who or what they were trying to be. As a result, their stories lacked focus. And they were not necessarily being told in a clear voice.

When we were approached to help them tell a better story, we started by asking smart questions. We talked to people in all levels of the organization. And perhaps more importantly, we talked to their customers.

We learned what made these brands tick. We learned how they solved problems in the marketplace. We uncovered truths about them that we were able to exploit to create a transparent story about how they challenge the status quo.

As I said, they had great stories to tell. They just lacked the focus to stick a flag in the ground and claim, “This is who we are!” And when you really think about it, aren’t those the brands people love (think Apple and Harley-Davidson)?

What’s the secret sauce?

If you’ve ever read a book, you know the formula: There’s a beginning, middle and end to every story. Stories follow this formula for good reason. So should you.

Start with a strong open to put the audience in the right frame of mind. Next, set up a problem and present any conflicts that might get in the way. Finally, end by finding resolution.

In other words, take the audience along for a ride. If they like the ride, they’ll hang around for the duration and maybe even ride again. Better yet, they may just share your story with others.

Don’t try to say everything.

In agribusiness, marketing is a multi-faceted process where one chapter or tactic should feed off the next one. When companies try to tell the whole story in every single marketing piece they create, the audience gets bored and tunes you out. When that happens, you actually end up saying nothing.

Leave the audience hanging. Leave them wanting more. If you tell them everything through your marketing, you have nothing left to say when you sit down with your customer for a good old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation. You can fill in the blanks at that time.

Your goal is simple. Take the consumer on a path from awareness to trial to advocacy. You want people to use your brand to describe their life. Done right, they’ll tell your story FOR you.

Put the power of a good story to work.

Next time you sit down to create something to tout your business, keep the power of a good story in mind. Stories put us on the same wavelength. Stories help us connect. Stories make us human.

So be human. Be transparent. Be humble. But above all else, be interesting. People will love you for it.