Think back to the last time you were compelled to take action. What was it that made you purchase that product or service, sign up for a program, donate to a cause or tell everyone about what you just heard?
Yes, that’s right it was a story, a very well told one, with a message that resonated with you so strongly it prompted you to act.
Your No. 1 Mission as an Entrepreneur is to connect with your audience by becoming an expert story teller. You need to develop this skill to succeed. Every single day you will pitch your business to anyone who will listen. Each time you should refine your story to make it even more compelling. This takes time, effort and dedication to constantly improve. The reward is huge – people buying in to your passion and wanting to be a part of it.
So how you do this? Even if you’re not a gifted speaker or a natural sales person, story telling is an art and the more practice you put it into the better you’ll become. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve changed our message for FundRazr. Each time we figure we have a winner and test it out on friends, potential customers or investors we realize it still needs work. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a positive response at first. Learn from it and remember it’s a constant process so have fun with it.
Last night I got the opportunity to present FundRazr to an audience for the first time at Net Tuesday. I was excited and a little nervous. I had no props, notes or slides, I was simply armed with my passion for FundRazr and delivering our message. `We believe we can user the power of social networks to change the game of fundraising and payments.’
Close to a year in the making this big vision keeps us inspired. We switched from a `how can we get’ mentality to a `what can we offer and who can we help’ one. The minute you view your business in this way you make it all about your customer and this is the most important thing. Without a valued customer you don’t have a business.
I still have loads of work to do to become a better speaker, to be put on the spot and convince someone why we think our application is awesome and why they should be using it. Passion and enthusiasm helps, as does sincerity and a genuine desire to provide value. Of all the speakers last night who had just 3 minutes to present, those who told the best story spoke from their hearts. They gave real examples of what they were doing and why this mattered.
What actions can you take right now? These are my suggestions from hard learned personal experience:
1. Develop a one sentence pitch. Whether you’re starting out or have been in business for years if you don’t have this then get one. Put aside 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time to clearly state what pain you’re addressing and how your business solves this. Once you have a version you’re happy with preach it, refine it and preach it again!
Example: FundRazr is a revolutionary application that provides fast and effective pain relief from headaches caused by tireless fundraising and fee collection.
2. Develop a Product Positioning Statement. This builds on your sentence to provide a clear picture of your business offering. Refer to it often. Jazz it up in marketing friendly language for customers. It looks like this:
For [target customer segment] Who wants/needs [solution to problem] The [product name] is a [product category] That provides [compelling reason to buy from vendor] Unlike [main competitor] The [product name [key differentiator]
Example for an Apple iPod: For mobile, high-income individuals who need a way to listen to their entire music collection in different settings the Apple iPod is a small, portable digital music Player that offers elegance of design, the ability to store an entire music collection, and easy purchasing of new digital music. Unlike flash mp3 players (Creative, Rio, etc), the product stores an entire music library and is integrated into a service to purchase new digital music (iTunes).
Credit to Rocket Builders for this marketing expertise and the above example which incidentally was written years before iPod was launched!
3. Develop your story telling abilities. Take the above and start living and breathing it. Let it permeate everything you do, get talking to everyone about your business and become your own product evangelist. Learn from the best – watch videos on TED or YouTube. Read up on what experts have to say. Take notes at events you attend on what made someone stand out. Practice in front of others or a mirror. Video yourself then watch it and learn. Take a Toastmasters course, do whatever it takes to become the best storyteller you can and have fun along the way. Create some magic and make a difference in peoples’ lives.
It’s so fundamental to your personal and business success that I woke myself up thinking about it and felt compelled to write this at 3:00am in the morning. As a result of presenting last night I had so many people come up to me after, wanting to know more and that was a defining moment for me. It proves that we’re developing a solution to a need that will help people and that, my friends, is what makes it all worthwhile.
I’ll leave you with this amazing video from Scott Harrison at Charity Water. His passion is unwavering, his storytelling is inspiring. This is an art worth learning.