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I just grabbed Seth Godin‘s All Marketers are Liars. True to form, it’s bomb ass. The book details how marketing is really about telling stories – a premise you’ve definitely heard if you’ve been near a business in the last 5 to 5000 years.

So, if telling a story is what matters, what questions should you be asking to help craft the tale of your business? These ideas have helped me so I thought I would share them.

  • First, tell us how you came to this business idea. Was there some cathartic moment? Did grandpa start off as a craftsman in the King’s court and open a shop in the New World when he fell out of favour? Maybe you were you just really pissed that the market did not seem to offer something you needed so you started the biz? This part may involve telling the world a bit about you – not an autobiography but the aspects relevant to the worldview of the prospect(s). These are the elements of the story that can become LEGENDARY (and is the shit they do CNBC episodes about).
  • Second, tell us a bit about the state of the game. Explain what your view of the industry is. No, I ain’t saying give us a fucking Porter Five Forces analysis or some other business schoolish nonsense. Nor is this an invitation for you to crap on your competitors. Just tell the world about what you love about being on the playing field. Why does making widgets and being in the widget industry really float your boat?
  • Third, tell us why you think your industry is important and can deliver value to the prospect’s life. Even unsexy products (say toilet paper) are pretty critical to life – having a great piece of quality toilet paper in your hand is a hell of a lot better than a poorly made one. “Value” comes in strange forms and at the most unexpected moments.
  • Fourth, give a sense of the commitment you will make to your customers. Make sure this is aligned with their worldviews and don’t over commit. This requires you tell people what they are buying (not just the what product is but what the “experience” is). If part of the experience is “saving money” because you “always offer the lowest prices” then don’t go telling people they are buying a Ferrari or “the Ferrari of toilet papers.” They will start to wonder if you are a charlatan if the claims obviously conflict. Nobody has ever seen a $40 000 Ferrari or an organic steak at factory farm prices.

One other simple point worth stating (and this is not me trying to get your business):

  • If you don’t have talent re storytelling hire pros to help. Copywriting and web design are areas that come to mind. If you write like a fifth grader and have a Paleolithic era website the greatest story ever told will be surfed away from in 2.2 seconds. Know your limitations as a storyteller and assume you will only get one chance to tell the story.

Do you have other ideas and structures that help you tell your firm’s story – whether that story is eventually to be used for a newsletter, a pitch to a reporter, an online video or other things?

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