Since before the written word, people have handed down advice and warnings in stories. This oral tradition featured heros and villains, triumph and failure. Stories stick in our minds. Facts and figures can fall out of our memory while stories stay. The beginning: there was a need, the middle: there was a new solution to meet the need, the end: the new solution successfully met the need. The first story any company or organization needs to tell is the tale of their origin.
The publics need to know the why. Why did you start what you are doing? How did you perceive the need? Why did you think you could take on this challenge? How are you different from all who’ve come before you? Stories get repeated and shared. With the new ease of “like” or “share” on Facebook, or “retweet” on Twitter, or “reblog” on Tumblr, a story can go viral in the time it takes to find an article in a magazine that is touted on the cover.
While companies can offer almost identical products or services, it is the story that sets them apart. Was the company started in a garage or a kitchen table? Is it a family business going back generations? This is where the story begins. We all know that Starbucks started with it’s original location in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the 70’s. Facebook was created by a Harvard student before he dropped out. We see Colonel Sanders and think Kentucky Fried Chicken, how many secret herbs and spices do they use?
Stories are shaped from facts and values, they give consumers something to relate to and help categorize. Are you the underdog? The maverick? Before people know how to look at you, you have to see yourself. If you want people to buy, first they have to buy in. Don’t throw them a pitch, tell them a story.