Think about three strengths you or your organization offer. Do your competitors share these strengths?Whether you are an employee, a business owner, or a job seeker, you know the value of what you have to offer. Yet you’re competing in an increasingly sophisticated environment. For most of us, it’s a crowded marketplace, and it’s tricky to stand out in the crowd. You probably rely on a Web presence to connect with colleagues, clients, prospective clients, or potential employers. That’s where stories can come in. Your stories – your organization’s stories – are unique; they distinguish you from your competitors.Example: Hart InterCivic, votingequipment manufacturer with a story to tell(full story here: http://bit.ly/uf9gRC)Major client, Harris County (third-largest county in U.S.): pre-dawn fire end of August – Election Day Nov 2nd; early voting October 18th – Governor’s race. How is this huge jurisdiction going to deliver an equitable election that complies with all federal and state legal requirements in that timeframe?Hart’s Dirof Ops got the pre-dawn call and within hours, he and sales exec were standing beside Harris County’s Administrator of Elections.By that afternoon, the group had a strategy in place for borrowing, renting, and replacing the equipment in time for the election.At the emergency Commissioners’ Court meeting the following Monday, the first words out of the County Clerk’s mouth were, ‘We are going to be able to do this without closing any polling places.” The assembled crowd literally gasped!Harris County accounts for 20 percent of the total vote in Texas. Helping the county have a successful election became a community project.Other counties loaned equipment, and Hart geared up for production – Hart had five weeks to build what normally takes five months of production time.You can see how this story gives Hart talking points that they can use in a variety of settings.
“Anthropologists find evidence of folktales everywhere in ancient cultures, written in Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Sumerian. People in societies of all types weave narratives, from oral storytellers in hunter-gatherer tribes to the millions of writers churning out books, television shows, and movies. And when a characteristic behavior shows up in so many different societies, researchers pay attention: its roots may tell us something about our evolutionary past.”
A 2007 study by marketing researcher Jennifer Edson Escalas of Vanderbilt University found that a test audience responded more positively to advertisements in narrative form as compared with straightforward ads that encouraged viewers to think about the arguments for a product. Studies such as these suggest people accept ideas more readily when their minds are in story mode as opposed to when they are in an analytical mindset.Recent “neuroeconomics” studies show that emotions play a larger part in decision-making than analytical thinking. One study – 20 men/women got brain scan while gambling. Given same information about odds of winning, but framed in positive and negative ways (probability of winning vsprob of losing) – brain scans indicated that those with positive framing had activity in part of brain that processes positive emotions, and a greater percentage of them decided to gamble. And vice versa. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2006-08-06-brain-study_x.htm“Numbers numb, jargon jars, and nobody ever marched on Washington because of a pie chart. If you want to connect with your audience, tell them a story.” - Andy Goodman, former sitcom writer who teaches storytelling to nonprofits. http://www.agoodmanonline.com/red.html.
What do you learn about the vendor company through the Harris County story? The story is an efficient package for information.
A compelling story has a hero (protagonist), a challenge, and a resolution. In the Harris County story, who is the protagonist? What is the challenge? What is the resolution? How does this apply to your own stories?
The top 3 elements that make a good story?# 3. Use narrative structure; a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But not necessarily in that order. Sometimes starting in the middle helps grab your audience immediately.#2. Paint a picture. Engage the reader’s senses – and emotions. But remember, you’re telling your story to persuade, not to entertain. So don’t transport your reader too far with your descriptive powers.#1. Most important factor about whether a story is compelling is whether it’s meaningful to the audience. Understand the audience’s concerns and touch on them with your story. Example – Harris County story. What is the #1 concern of an elections official?
Think in terms of messaging. What messages do you want to convey about your essential assets? For an organization, this is your people, your processes, your knowledge, and your technology.
Planning is the key to an effective story initiative.Capture – Planning your story-gathering process starts with thinking about the messages you want to convey. Next, think about where and how you can collect the stories. Store – Who will use the stories you gather? Based on your key messages, how will you categorize or index (tag) your stories?Showcase – Will your stories appear as written or video testimonials or case studies on your website? Will they be talking points in sales meetings or job interviews?
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Get your story out there
Get Your Story Out ThereUsing Stories to Differentiate Your Offering Network in Austin – November 2011 Presented by: Julie Wickert True Story Communication firstname.lastname@example.org