“Purposeful story telling isn’t show business, it’s good business.”
That’s what Peter Guber says in his #1 New York Times Bestselling book, “Tell To Win”.
And it’s what Dan Kennedy has said for years: Stories sell.
Guber, an extraordinarily successful person who has had a long and varied career serving as studio chief at Columbia Pictures, co-chairman of Casablanca Records and Filmworks, CEO of Polygram Entertainment , Chairman and CEO of both Sony Pictures and Mandalay Entertainment Group substantiates that the benefits of powerful storytelling are not limited to the entertainment business.
Guber, who also oversees one of the largest combinations of professional baseball teams and venues nationwide, is the co-owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, a longtime professor at UCLA, speaker at numerous business forums across the U.S., and has even invested in other businesses set out to PROVE that stories are powerful calls to action for any business.
Looking outside the entertainment industry, Guber turned to some of the most successful business leaders in America to see what their experiences were with using stories in business. And he consulted experts in psychology, narrative medicine, and organizational storytelling to determine if purposeful story telling was a success tool that many in business mistakenly ignore.
His book further supports the importance of emotionally transporting your customers, clients, and patients via stories in order to get them to take action.
Giving examples from businesses in all different categories and walks of life—Guber cites stories from businesses such as restaurants, financial planners, eye doctors, lawyers, investors, politicians, and many more. He also shows how both story-tellers and non-story-tellers can employ stories to help them succeed.
Here are some key points I picked up from reading his book:
To be considered a story, you need surprise. Pay close attention to this one: when you give your audience exactly what they expect, with no surprise, you will bore your audience. This is NOT a story. Surprise is what makes a story and makes your story memorable.
Telling stories is a tool anyone can use. Stories aren’t reserved for the rich, the educated, the intelligent, the successful, and so on. You don’t have to have a certain education or reach a certain age or income level to tell and listen to stories or use them to win.
People are wired for stories. Think of your own experiences. From the time you are young, you are told stories. As you get older, you read story books. When you are with your friends and family—or even at the office, you tell stories.
It makes perfect sense that we are wired for stories, yet many businesses ignore this potent tool and lean towards stating facts and statistics instead. (Check out some particularly compelling research on stories verses statistics in Chapter 3, along with a super idea that a financier on Wall Street used to get more done.)
Beware of hidden time bombs. We tend to repeat our stories. Depending on the nature of your personal back stories, this repetition can produce positive or negative results. Ignore the power of your own back-story and these can surface at inopportune times. The good news is that you can use your negative experiences in ways so that they won’t continue to affect you negatively or creep up and sabotage you unexpectedly when you least expect them to (such as when you are trying to close a big deal.)
Find the “it.” You need the thing that will emotionally transport your audience. (Tweet this!) Without this piece, your audience won’t get what your proposition is, even if it is a complete no-brainer to you, meaning people will say “no” when you fully expect them to say “yes.”
Same story. Different resolution. You may have a great story, but the wrong resolution for your audience. Know your audience well and you’ll know what they will respond to.
Also, you can use the same story with different resolutions for different audiences. For example, let’s say you have an idea for an information marketing business, but you need others to invest in your idea. You could tell the same story about your idea, but for the investor who has money to spare and loves the risk, you’d paint a picture of the big pay-out potential. While the investor who doesn’t have any money to invest, but has knowledge or skill he can invest, you’d paint a picture that involves him gaining reputation that could lead to more and better-paying clients.
One is a dangerous number. Just as Dan Kennedy has said many times, one is a dangerous number. This is no exception. Stories should be told in offline and online marketing as well as in face-to-face situations.
Of course it is impossible for me to summarize here everything you will discover about why and how to use stories in your business. However, if you consider these tips and focus on telling stories in your business, you can make facts and figures more memorable, make your products and services resonate with your audience, and get more people to take action.
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