Retail Observer

November 2020

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

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM NOVEMBER 2020 48 W hy does your business exist? Of course you're in it to make money. But I've never met a successful business leader who wasn't also driven by a purpose beyond the pursuit of wealth. There's almost certainly a deeper meaning at the core of your retail venture that pushes you to keep investing, taking risks, and getting out of bed every morning. This meaning is what powers your success. It's also the goldmine of your most effective stories. Good stories, told well, can supercharge your business, build and bolster your brand, and enhance the perceptions and emotions your customers associate with you. This is no secret. The hard part is understanding how to find and deliver effective stories that you can use across all aspects of your business. Here's a simple approach. GET TO THE HEART OF YOUR BUSINESS Like the nose on your face, some of your best stories are sitting right in front of you, if only you can see them. In my storytelling workshops, I use provocative questions as a mirror to help people see the true nature of their work and what makes them tick. Start at the beginning. Who founded the business? What specific problem did they aim to fix? What memorable moments of insight, struggle or triumph did they have? If your business is older, reflect on the difference it makes today: what kind of joy, dignity, ease, entertainment or pleasure do you make happen for your customers, employees and communities? Where do you see lives being changed in ways that make you proud? The goal is to identify your defining experiences, those key moments that made you who you are or that say something important about what you're doing today. Bring them vividly to life with physical descriptions, identifiable characters, and some degree of struggle or risk. For example, "On a visit to the Caribbean our founder had the crazy idea of using a South Seas motif to make buying food and wine more fun in the U.S.", the Trader Joe's story replaced a boring bog- standard message: "We have a passion for delivering international food and wine at excellent prices." No one cares about your "passion." Tell us what happened to you that made you so passionate. GET TO THE HEART OF YOUR CUSTOMER Recognizing powerful moments is just the start. To become an effective storyteller, you must also immerse yourself in what's meaningful to your customers at a deep, personal level. In other words, you must become a master of empathy. Being empathetic requires that you feel someone's pain and not just sympathize with it. It's an experience of immersive identification in which you set your own ambitions aside and put the other person's agenda ahead of yours. You walk in his/her shoes without pre-judging or expectations. I ask my workshop participants to name one specific customer – either a real person or a prototype – and answer questions about them. First the demographics: the who, what and where of their lives. Then the psychographics: the subterranean landscape of their dreams, fears, desires and dreads. Typically, my clients realize they don't have the answers to all of these questions. The good news is that there's a simple solution: just ask. People tend to love telling you all about themselves, as long as you're authentic. With a deep immersion in this landscape of meaning, you then refer to the core stories you created earlier and pick the ones that speak to a point of joy, desire, hope or love in the life of your customer – anything that resonates with a value they hold dear. Start with a vivid detail that takes them to a different time and place. Then let them discover the lesson through the quality of the human drama. Use your story to spark a conversation with your customer, one that you hope will last for a long and productive time. Invite people to respond or reply with stories of their own – which you may want to capture and share online or on social media. Remember, there's never really an ending to your best business stories. Just new chapters. HOW TO FIND 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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