As I often tell audiences when talking about Red Shoes: Everyone has a story. We could literally create a blockbuster Hollywood movie about everyone we come in contact with. There is not a person out there who lacks the emotions, dilemmas, defeats, and triumphs of a bestselling story.
People and their stories are extremely powerful and endlessly interesting, as my good friend Steve Bartholomew points out in this guest blog.
Everyone Has a Story
Think for a moment about your favorite story—it could be a book, a movie, or an account from a family journal. What do you like about it? What draws you to it?
Stories are some of the most powerful forces in all of humanity. It is through stories that we form our identities, we understand the universe around us, and our place in it. It is through stories that we interpret our past, make meaning of our present, and marvel about the future. Spirituality, opinions, and perspectives are all formed by stories.
Stories have the ability to transcend cultures, continents, space and time. From ancient cave paintings in northern Spain (pictured above) to today’s YouTube videos that take us to the edge of space to honor the courage of a young boy, storytelling has evolved. Yet our innate need to tell and listen to stories remains the same.
With so many stories being told over the years, the truly incredible thing is everyone has one—and no two are exactly alike.
The Business of Storytelling
Storytelling is big business. Companies invest enormous amounts of money each year in marketing and advertising to help tell the story of their latest product or service. Logos, branding, messaging, digital channels, social media, television, and direct mail, are all used to tell customers their story. In a sea of competing stories, the challenge is to set their story apart, to make their company stand out.
How does a company define and measure the success of their storytelling? It is through customer loyalty. When a customer adopts the company’s story as part of their own narrative, part of their identity, they become a brand advocate, and in many cases, a customer for life.
The Value of Listening to Stories
In today’s world of commoditized products and services, where companies compete to make their story the most memorable and influential, there exists an opportunity for companies to truly differentiate themselves by flipping the script and simply listening to their customers’ stories.
Each customer’s experience with a company’s products and services, whether they are positive or negative, provides a story to be woven into the company narrative. Companies that provide their customers with a forum to tell their stories, and then act on those stories to foster a customer-centric culture, offer value that goes well beyond the actual product or service. They allow the customer to feel important, valuable, a part of the company’s story. In turn, the company gets a loyal brand advocate, and in many cases a customer for life.