Retail Observer

May 2021

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 43 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM MAY 2021 44 I n a world of information overload, remote work and endless distractions, businesses of all stripes are paying attention to storytelling. The obvious reason is that when it's done well, storytelling can change opinions and behaviors in profound ways. It's the ultimate influence model. In my consulting practice, I work with organizations and individuals to help them become more effective storytellers. Through workshops, coaching and focused creative work, we put storytelling to work to improve sales, customer satisfaction, organizational health, diversity and much more. One thing I've seen over and over is that bad storytelling can hurt a business nearly as much as good storytelling can help. So, in the spirit of helping you avoid disaster, here are three common storytelling mistakes to avoid. Simply changing these practices can immediately improve your business's storytelling. • Mistake #1: Focus first on yourself You've spent a lot of time and money building a successful business. It's only natural that everyone will care – that they'll admire you and seek you out, if only you tell the story of your success and your products. Won't they? Here's the hard truth: People don't care about you. They care about themselves. So don't talk about your needs – talk about theirs. For storytelling to capture hearts and minds, it must focus first on the desires, struggles and values that your audience holds dear. A good place to start is to learn what they aspire to. This takes work. It means shutting up and listening, over and over again. Next, find defining experiences that demonstrate your deep understanding of what holds your audience back from realizing their dreams. After you show them how you can answer their struggles and elevate their lives, they'll be open to listening to what you've got to say. • Mistake #2: Make yourself the hero In 1949, a professor named Joseph Campbell introduced the concept of the Hero's Journey, based on his study of ancient mythology and literature. It describes a universal story architecture in which a hero embarks on an unexpected adventure, defeats evil, and returns home to a world transformed. Modern stories such as Star Wars and Wonder Woman are built on the same arc. The hero concept is appealing, of course. But beware the temptation to assume that you or your business are heroic. I regret to inform you: You are never the hero. Nor are your employees or your products. No one will thrill to the story of your new iPhone app that bravely overcame the competition, discovered its inner power, and wound up trending on Twitter. Sadly, you don't get to be Luke Skywalker. The good news is that you can probably play the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the framework of the epic story arc, there's always a mentor or a guide – the key player who shows the hero the way to success. Your customer is the hero. That's the journey you need to care about, and the story you need to tell. • Mistake #3: Turn your buzzwords into stories Everyone needs to hear your catchphrase, tagline, or mission statement, right? Wrong. It's not that these things don't matter. In fact, they are critical. But they aren't stories. They are end states. Think of them as stars in the sky that guide your business to its ultimate purpose. Stories are the accounts of the experiences people have that resonate with your purpose. They're grounded in human transformation. They're filled with people, places and problems. For example: Microsoft's mission statement is to "Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." Taken literally, it's almost meaningless. Yet Microsoft is wise enough not to plaster it all over its marketing communications. Rather, the company uses the statement as a challenge to its own workforce, including its communicators. This was demonstrated recently in a very successful Xbox campaign called "Beyond Generations." A video tells the story of a lonely grandmother who decides to try gaming as a way to connect with her grandson, Jason – with beautiful results. It's not a story about Xbox, per se, it's a story of family love – a story that brings the company's mission to life. Where are your hero stories? THREE STORYTELLING MISTAKES TO AVOID 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.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Retail Observer - May 2021