How often do you think about what kind of story you are telling about your business? Perhaps you aren’t even sure how to frame it. You’re just worried about (and rightly so) turnover: producing and selling, keeping the business going. Why should you take the time to even think about your story? Is it really that important. You bet it is! Your story is why people buy from you, what sets you apart from your competitors, and what keeps your customers coming back. If you have no story, you are a commodity and you can only compete by becoming cheaper and cheaper until you can no longer sustain yourself. Your story is everything. Gone is the age of the peddler. Welcome to the age of the storyteller.
So, you might just want to spend a little time thinking about your story. But, what is a business’s story? What does that even mean? What kinds of things should you be thinking about if you want to tell a better story? Let me introduce the 5 P’s of storytelling for businesses…
The 5 P’s
- Product: what you sell.
- Process: how you sell it.
- Purpose: why you sell it.
- Place: where you sell it.
- Patrons: who you sell it to.
- Product is quite possibly the most important thing in storytelling. But wait, didn’t I just go on a tirade against being a peddler? Yes, it’s not about the product. It’s about the story the product is telling. That’s what you are selling. The product is so important because it is what the customer initially sees when they look into your company. It is the cover on your book and, yes, people do judge the books by their covers. If your product doesn’t tell a compelling story, nothing else will matter.
- Process is everything from your supply chain to your operations procedures to your organizational structure. It is how your product gets from raw materials to the hands of your customer. If your business is a book, the process is the plot development. Is it consistent or does it have holes in it? Your organization must have a high level of integrity and structure in the way it brings your product to market. If not, your story will suffer.
- Purpose is why you are in business. What are you trying to do for the world? What’s your mission? Your purpose is the theme or the moral of your story. It’s what makes your customer go, “Aha!” It’s what tells them what you’re all about. Does your purpose tell a compelling story? Have you even thought about it? Without purpose, you have no real story–just words on a page.
- Place is the environment in which you sell. It’s your industry, your geographic location, and the technological trends surrounding you. Are you cognizant of where and when your story is taking place? Do you know your competitors and your strategic partners? Are you adapting to changing conditions in the marketplace? If you don’t adequately understand where you fit in, your story will be in the wrong setting and, consequently, misunderstood by your customers.
- Patrons are your customers. They are the people actually reading your stories. You aren’t doing “art for art’s sake.” You are writing your story with the intention for it to be read. Every decision you make, therefore, should take into consideration the effect it might have on your audience. Your customers are always the number one priority. Their acceptance of your story validates it. If you create a compelling story that no one ever reads, it–for all intents and purposes–does not exist. Write for your readers.
Think about these things. Make them central to your business practices and plans for the future. And, above all, think about what kind of story your orientation toward them is telling. It could mean the difference between incredible success and agonzing failure.