Retail Observer

February 2020

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 45 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM FEBRUARY 2020 46 W hy do great stories matter to your business? Because they make you human. In a world of wary consumers besieged by carpet-bombing ads and distracted by ever-present AirPods, it's hard to imagine a more powerful magic than a great story that rings true. A good story, told well, can cut through the noise and indifference and build an immediate emotional bond with your customers. In just a few engaging moments, a great story can light up your values, reveal your motivations, and lift you above the competition. The best stories are grounded in authenticity – they're the stories that only you can tell. If your business has survived and thrived over the years, you're almost certainly sitting on a rich vein of engaging stories. They're just waiting to be tapped, but they aren't going to leap out of the ground. To uncover the stories that will make a difference, you can start asking some simple questions: • How did this all begin? Every business can trace its life back to a unique moment of truth. Two oddballs meet and come up with a crazy idea for a personal computer – and Apple is born. A man gets tired of paying for fancy razors, makes a viral video, and invents Dollar Shave Club. A woman decides that nobody is making the right kind of clothes for active women. She borrows $5,000 and starts Spanx. In each case, small, personal moments of inspiration sparked an industry-changing moment. To find your origin story, go back to the very beginning. If your founders are still around, collect their first-person accounts of how the world used to be and what drove them to want to change it. If they're gone, start by mining the institutional memories. In either case, the idea is to tell stories of the defining moments when the big inspiration struck, and when brave people had dreams, doubts and obstacles and decided to take a chance. • When did we make somebody's life better? Why are your customers willing to pay good money for what your business is offering them? The reason is very simple: because it makes them feel better. Somehow, some way, they've decided that the feeling you can give them is worth parting with their hard-earned cash, even it's just a roll of deluxe toilet paper. As a storyteller, your job is to tune into the customers' lives, values and desires deeply enough to tell your story in a way that will touch them. It goes deeper than just stating how your business can solve a practical need. Every product or service provides something that resonates at a level of meaning in the customer's life, and that resonates with their relationships, passions, and dreams. Invariably, there's a level of pain, a problem or need that begs for relief and that your product or service can alleviate. If you're stuck for a good story, here's a simple solution: ask your customers! Identify the moments that matter to their hearts. The connections might surprise you. That hot dog you're selling might be important, not because it's delicious but because it's the center of a father-daughter postgame ritual. That new oven might be cherished because it can roast the holiday bird the way Mom and grandma did twenty years ago. A lowly bathroom product can be prized for the feelings it has of caring, luxury and dignity. • What do we stand for? And why? Most companies take great pains to write up their "values statement" – a bland, standardized list of gray-water platitudes that's intended to broadcast the beliefs and virtues that "drive the enterprise." Ugh – more times than not, it's pure hogwash. People don't put much stock in words on a poster – they believe in what they see. The values that truly define a business are embedded in the actions of the people who embody them. It's all very well and fine to have a value of "customer service." But what values – what stories – are being told when an associate walks the extra mile to help a customer look for a dropped wedding ring? If management does anything less than celebrate their good deed, are they being anything but clueless? To mine the true values of your business, look at the actions that are rewarded and that are recalled and celebrated at meetings and orientations. In a healthy business, those stories will align with your stated values. Odds are, that's because the leadership has forged its philosophy and beliefs in the hot fire of hard learnings – in failures and successes that can make for powerful stories. HOW TO UNLOCK YOUR BEST BUSINESS STORIES Mario Juarez Business Mindset RO Mario Juarez is an organizational consultant, coach, and motivational speaker. He focuses on helping organizations and individuals achieve better business results through strategic storytelling. An award-winning former journalist, Mario led a series of innovative communications initiatives at Microsoft before founding his company, StoryCo, which serves clients across a range of industries.

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