Even with the best marketing strategies and weekly staff meetings; Don’t assume your customers or even your staff understand your company story.
Vision and mission statements are often meaningless to employees and customers. They can be viewed as just words, often too many and too obtuse, and without any context or meaning.
They don’t explain what the company is really all about, why someone would want to work there, or why someone would want to be a customer.
People like to tell and listen to stories. And they will repeat the really good ones.
Stories work; they always have. Jesus used parables to teach key points. The ancients told epics to convey history and the battles between good and evil. Today, stories are told through movies and books.
Every employee and customer should be able to tell your company’s story enthusiastically and without fail.
Crafting your Story
When crafting your company story, focus on: Customers, Co-workers, and Company
Consider: Who are they? What do they need? What do they value? What are their concerns? What makes them happy? What causes them stress? Why do they buy from you and not your competitors?
Consider: Who are your employees? Why do they work at your company? What makes them excited/motivated to come to work each day? How do they contribute to the overall success of the business?
Consider: Why does your company exist? Go beyond your vision or mission statement. Speak what’s in your heart, not your brain, then take those values you espouse and create your story from there.
Where is the company going? Convey a sense of future accomplishments. Your story needs to define your strategies for getting to that future.
Employees often complain that they don’t know where their company is headed; they don’t know what the CEO’s strategies are. If an employee doesn’t know that at a gut level, how can they help the company succeed and move forward?
Tips for creating a Great Company Story
People relate to metaphors. A metaphor can convey a complicated message in a simple way. For example, a company’s complex production process could be compared to making a soufflé, each step must be exact and on time or the soufflé will fall.
Focus on people.
Your audience for this story includes your customers and your employees. People want to hear about people.
Personify your company.
Create a character that represents what your company stands for and does. For example, a traditional law office might be presented as “The Judge”, an upright individual who honors the law. From there, you can create The Judge’s character.
Keep the language simple.
Use plain English and active verbs. Don’t rely on the dry, jargon or speakease you use at the office.
Check the readability level of your story by running it through the grammar check on your word-processing software. You want your story to have a readability level of at least 65 on the Flesch Reading Ease scale or to be at the 8th grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale.
Build in enthusiasm and energy.
Too many workplaces today lack those qualities. Enthusiasm is contagious and smells of success.
Appeal to the senses.
Research into how we think and communicate has found that people react unconsciously to messages that touch on how we see, hear, or feel things. Ensure your story includes words that address each of those senses.
Keep it fairly short.
Even a good story, if it goes on too long, can lose listeners. Edit your story to make it tight, concise, and effective.
How to Communicate Your Story
The CEO should be “CSO” — Chief Storytelling Officer. And they should tell the story everywhere and all the time, to everyone:
* at every company event,
* at every customer event,
* at any event anywhere.
Employees who can tell the story can serve as ambassadors for the company, as well as salespeople. The same goes for customers.
If your customers and employees really understand what you are all about, you will succeed.
A good story is worth telling and repeating. A good company story will inspire coworkers and impress customers. What is your company story?
“If your customers and employees really understand what you are all about, you will succeed. Your company story tells about your company, what you do for whom and why, with something about your people thrown in. It’s more than just your vision and mission. It conveys your essence for being. It connects with people on an emotional level.”
Dave Hosokawa, former chief executive of the parent company of Monster.com
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