Hi again my friends,
As I recall at the conclusion of my last letter I promised to share some thinking on the elements to consider in telling your back story. Speaking of my last letter, seems like I should acknowledge the fact that it's been an extended period since my last post. I just needed a breather to try to recharge my battery so to speak, as well as spend more time on rethinking & developing business strategy. Stay tuned for some changes.
Ok A quick review- Your backstory is how you became what you are today? It's the revealing of the where, when and who of your business or organization. It's where your story begins. Here's a definition from Wikipedia. A back-story, background story, or backstory (or in games, the background of a character) is the literary device of a narrative chronologically earlier than, and related to, a narrative of primary interest. Generally, it is the history of characters or other elements that underlie the situation existing at the main narrative's start.
I believe we all need a starting point of departure on the important concept of a business backstory. Let's start with why you should invest your precious time in both understanding your story and telling it. In part one of this series I explored how understanding their backstory (Their beginnings) not only energized a brand, but was a catalyst for transforming a dog food company.
Another reason for telling a great back story of your company according to Rohit Bhargava, author of *Personality not included"*, is It will help establish a foundation of trust and credibility for your business or organization. Stories ultimately help build an emotional connection. Emotions are critical in buying decisions. Telling your backstory provides context and meaning for the greater story of you and open up the emotional gates for those deeper customer connections.
Do you like buying something from someone you don't really trust or like? I know I don't. Do you feel a sense of loyalty to buy only from them? One of the most daunting challenges faced by every business today is gaining trust from your customers. Numerous research studies conducted on customers, clearly identify the lack of trust in businesses as a major issue.
When trying to understand a concept , I always attempt to get it from my own world's point of view or experiences. That statement provokes the question- When is the last time that you heard a story about a business that had a significant enough of an impact on you, to influence a buying decision?
As an example, I recently bought a couple of expensive concert tickets because I watched a video backstory of a musician. Before I saw his story, the one of a decent person who overcame many trials and challenges before making it big, I would not have paid to see one of his concerts. Was he perfect? No. But his story help make him more human, more real. More importantly, a part of his story became my own, a key ingredient of any great story. His story not his music was the key, in establishing a deeper connection. There were plenty of live music concerts to choose from but I spent the bucks on his.
You might ask where do I begin telling my BackStory?
Here's some elements to think about when telling your backstory. Exchange them with your team or a trusted colleague after you've tried to answer for yourself. It doesn't matter if you're a solo entrepreneur or the CEO of a fortune 500 corporation.
Characters - Every great story has characters, people who's actions and decisions ultimately determine the script of the story. Who are the key people who have shaped who your company is today. Who are/were the founders? Who were some of the very early employees? Who are the current day leaders? Who are the people that customers must interact with ? What kind of stories are told about your people or you today? The characters in your story don't necessarily have to be exclusive to individuals directly associated with your company. Are there any heroes or villains in your story?
Challenges- What were the challenges or problems the business was trying to answer for customers? What was the sense of purpose for starting the business beyond just the bottom line?
Vision- What was the dominant theme or idea of the founders that they set out to create and have others follow, both customers or employees ?
Conflicts- What were the obstacles that the business faced or has faced that stood in the way of success?
Triumph- How did the team overcome the conflicts or will overcome them?
To conclude, examining, understanding and sharing(telling) your backstory fits perfectly in the new business world where connecting with customers is the new business imperative. As Rohit write in his book *Personality not included , "the biggest challenge most organizations face today is discovering how to go from a brand that people consume to one that they are passionate about. Personality Matters." So what's your story?
Until Next time- take care and Rock Your Customers. (Employees too!)
Additional Business Storytelling References
The Leaders Guide to Storytelling - Steve Denning Website
The Story Factor - Annette Simmons - Website