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Friday, August 26, 2011

Sell your business as a story

As an ag entrepreneur, when someone asks you what you do and why, what is your answer? Example A: Do you say, "I own a coffee shop. I got into this business because I thought I could make a lot of money,"? It is an honest answer, but does it "sell" you as a business owner or your business? Probably not.

Statistics and facts are interesting, but not inspiring. To get potential customers to remember you and your business, make it memorable. Consumers buy not only on logic, but emotions too. They want to hear a story and will use that story to associate you as an entrepreneur with your business. The above example (Example A) doesn't help a potential customer differentiate you from any other business selling the same product or service. Your story can help that potential customer understand your beliefs and values and therefore have an emotional attachment to your business.

In the Forbes.com article "The CEO As Storyteller in Chief", Howard Schulz (Chairman of Starbucks) is discussed as a great storyteller. "He tells us the story of his trip to Milan and the passion for fresh, richly brewed espresso he discovered there and carried home with him. From that kind of simple story we--employees, customers, shareholders--derive meanings for everything a company does. The trouble Starbucks' coffee buyers go to to select the highest-quality beans from the remotest regions of the world, the care their brewers take--everything becomes romantic and fascinating, enticing us to stand in line as long as it takes to get our cup of coffee."

Doesn't Schulz's story sound a lot more enticing than Example A? Another great part of storytelling is the ease at which they can be spread. If you tell a good story, a customer is more likely to remember that story and spread it to other potential customers, and who doesn't love good word-of-mouth advertising?

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