Want to grow your business? Tell a better story.

Guest post by Janet Lee, President at The Story Co.

We have all heard that our brains now have the attention span of a goldfish – exactly 6 seconds.

Which is down considerably from 100 years ago when our attention span was closer to 20 minutes. And you have to wonder how short 6 seconds really is when 2 hours on Instagram goes so quickly?

Now let’s relate this to how we build a business. We buy from those we understand and relate to the most, we don’t always buy from the best. When you think in terms of a 6 second window to grab your customer, this is a little bit (a lot!) terrifying.

We live and do business in such a noisy world – how can we be heard? How do we get the attention of, and influence, our nearest and dearest customers?

We need to tell a better story.

You don’t need to have the biggest fish story, or have the most daunting underdog story and you certainly don’t need a “how I made 7 figures while sitting on a beach in Costa Rica” story, unless of course it is true, but likely it is not and I won’t buy what you are selling.

What you need is “your” story to mingle with “my” story and it needs to be crystal clear.

Your story is not your product. Look at your insta grid right now – it’s ok I’ll wait. Count how many posts in the last 2 weeks were product or features related – “this just in, the season must have shoe”, “today’s sandwich – the best!”, “1108p, resolution guaranteed”. If you are putting the product at the center of your story in every post you are likely in a game you can’t win. You are training me to think of your business as a commodity. And when you sell a commodity, price and availability wins my loyalty. You get less than 6 seconds of my time.

Try this experiment – create a post that does not include a product. Rather than talking about features and benefits talk to me about why “I” am uniquely suited to be part of your community (customer story). Tell me why you started this business and how you knew all along that one day you would help “me” (origin story). Tell me what keeps you up at night and maybe it is what keeps me up at night too and then I will totally know that you get me and that your product or solution will help me sleep better (value story). Then in between these stories slide in a product post because I do want those shoes and now I know I want them from you. Only you.

To truly build a sustainable brand take this experiment and stretch it across your whole company. Just like a reusable beeswax food cover mold and fashion it to tightly fit over all aspects of your business. Make sure your vision, mission, values and brand statements are nicely tucked in too.

We inherently know that story telling is the most effective way to engage our customer. No one really needs too much convincing there. What I don’t think we realize is how powerful it is and how it is so much more than a savvy marketing tactic. In my 15-year experience as a business story strategist I have found that the biggest fear of most business owners is not in telling their story, it is that they don’t believe they have a story to tell.

But you do.

And only you can tell it.

So please tell it to me and to all of my friends so we can change the world together.

Author Info:

Janet Lee is President and Founder of The Story Co. in Regina, Saskatchewan. Janet has over 20 years experience as a brand and marketing strategist with a passion for helping businesses grow by connecting them with their brand story in a powerfully, strategic way.