When I think of a good story, I think of the theme song from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”…well, any Will Smith song made before the year 2000, for that matter, but that doesn’t mean that arguably the undisputed king of clean rap has it nailed to a science. This blog will have almost all of the information that I can think of that can help you tell your story successfully! Hooray!
Just like you, I get a lot of junk mail in my inbox, but I don’t unsubscribe for two reasons. The first is that I’m a glutton for punishment. The second reason is that sometimes there’s some pretty good information in there. This past week I got an email from Manta even though I’m really not sure how I got signed up for it. It was entitled How to Craft a Story That Cuts Through the Noise (look out! Grant’s going hyperlink cray cray!). The headline is what caught my eye, because I thought there could be some really great advice for people. I have to tell you, though. I was a little disappointed, so here I’m on my 150th-ish word to share with you my take on “How to Craft a Story That Cuts Through the Noise.”
First, you must understand the entire story. The very first thing I do when talking with our clients is get a complete understanding of what their problem is. I can’t help them solve it if all I know is that they just want to make more money. Getting the details right should always come second, because if you don’t have a rock solid understanding of what your client is trying to do, you’re never going to be able to convey that. After all, unless you’re really terrible at telling jokes, you’re not going to try to get the punchline without hearing the whole thing first, are you?
Next, don’t be afraid to really throw it back to middle school and have them journal it out. I like to have everyone we work with who is struggling to tell their story do a completely unorganized data dump. I do it all of the time and it’s totally a great way to help organize your disorganized thoughts. I like to sit down with a legal pad, or for you 21st Century kids, a fresh Evernote page and just write. I don’t even care if my words are spelled correctly. This is just meant to be a really classic way of getting what’s important inside your head on to a sheet of paper. Below is an example of a quick dump I did about where our company is going.
Then you’ll want to drill down in to the details. Everyone has their own way of doing this. Mine is to just ask a ton of questions. Often times, it’s helpful to offer to sign a non-disclosure form so that your client can comfortably answer all of your questions without feeling like they need to hold back. Don’t screw that trust up, though. They will sue your ass and never do business with you, or trust you again even if they move companies. This has been the cornerstone of our business for almost ten years. Respect, confidence and passion for what our clients do is soooo important. Even though we’re just video guys. Treat everyone like they are the CIA and you’ll do well, kid.
Once you get the details, you can finally start thinking about this as a story. (Did I mention that you should take copious notes so as to have something to refer back to?) This is where the original Manta piece gives you some good advice. Your customer’s problem can actually rear its big ugly head, your client really is a hero, who, with your help, will fight and win, and the moral of the story will be contemplated. Just don’t leave it too open ended, or the moral could be misinterpreted, which is very VERRY bad.
This being sound advice for people looking to tell their stories, the five point guidelines set forth by Manta are not bulletproof. There are loads of variables and sub-points that can really derail your plans quickly.
The skill of telling a great story is not one that you are born without. It is a skill that can be learned. Those who learn it well are ultimately successful. Forbes had a nice piece about entrepreneurs who have mastered the skill of storytelling being extraordinary successful. There is some really wonderful advice in here as well that is left out of this blog post as well as the Manta piece, because…well, let’s face it, if you’ve made it this long in to this piece, you’re probably already begging for mercy. Just be sure to at least heed the first piece of advice in the Forbes article about making sure you’re telling the right story to the right crowd.
Of course I’m going to throw in my pitch here. If you’re looking to tell your company’s story, do yourself a favor and give us a call. We do a really wonderful job helping our clients who have issues through the process. I promise we’ll take great care of you!