On today’s How to CEO podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with marketing expert and storyteller, Chris Brogan. For Chris, success as an organization is all about telling a story. And today, that he spent time telling me why. Here’s what he’d to say.
Why Is Storytelling Important to CEOs?
Chris pointed out that a lot of people aren’t losing out on things we need. We’re just searching for the thing we want or the thing that does something better. And since we have seemingly infinite choices of brands, we’re spending more money with companies that align with your values, vision, and identity.
For instance, there’s Uber and there’s Lyft. Uber could be the more-common high end, but it’s had plenty of trouble with misogyny claims. So many individuals started choosing Lyft simply because they wanted to support a company that had an improved record with women.
Another example: we could buy Nike, and we could buy Adidas. Nike has Colin Kaepernick, and he’s wanting to fight for the rights of people against police brutality. For some individuals, that’s a stand, and there are those that now won’t buy Nike. So alternatively, some people choose Adidas, who’s stand is cleaning the oceans. They sold over 2 million pairs of shoes crafted from ocean waste.
Yet another example is Chick-fil-A. They sell a chicken sandwich, and lots of people say it’s the very best in the world. BUT, Chick-fil-A was also donating money to anti-LGBTQ causes, so many people stopped going to their restaurants. Then Popeyes arrived to the spotlight and said, “We love gay people, and here’s our chicken sandwich!” And its demand has been huge.
It’s Chris’s view that the CEO can’t just be considering building the minimum viable product anymore. When they’re out there raising, selling and marketing and they’re finally ready to deliver, the CEO’s story must align with who they are really.
Stories aren’t merely nice-to-have, soft things. They’re the DNA transfer. Your company does many things, but a story must move it. We think better in stories than in any other vessel of information.
How to Create A Story
Where a lot of CEOs go wrong is that they consider themselves when trying to produce the story of their company. They ask, who are we, and what do we mean? What are our colors, and what’s the best font for us?
That’s not just a story.
A story needs to be considered a question of “Who are we to the folks we serve?”
Chris gave me the example of YETI, who makes the YETI mugs, thermoses and camping gear. To Chris, the mugs say “you’re the kind of person who wants to get outside, who needs something rugged, and who loves the functionality of this product.” YETI products also say, “we’re more expensive compared to the competitor, however it works well and you’re planning to brag for us.”
Chris told me that he likes YETI because “they’re telling my story, maybe not the mug’s story.” They’re saying “you’re the kind of person who…” So, the first the main story, no real matter what you sell, should begin with that formula.
Your Story Should Show People They Belong
Also, Chris explained about the significance of making people see themselves in your story. People are sick and tired of trying to “fit in.” We wish to go where we feel we belong. Belong is way larger than fitting in.
Fitting in is when we head to school and we don’t say finished . we want to say because we all know we’re planning to get made fun of. Fitting in is whenever we don’t tell our friends the kinds of music we really like even though we really it. This is excatly why so many people significantly change their lives inside their 40s and 50s. It’s because we’re so tired of merely fitting in.
Make people feel like they could see themselves in your story. Show people that they belong in your story.
Testing Your Story
I asked Chris exactly how we should test our stories to see if they’re understood by the audience. He explained that it’s similar to the way stand-up comedy works. To put it in Chris’s words, “You need to see nodding heads. If you’re talking and everyone is smiling politely, or looking at their phone as well, that’s not right.”
On one other hand, when heads are nodding, or better yet when people just take their notebooks out, you realize you’re resonating very well.
You won’t want to skip the rest of what Chris had to express, including other folks he knows who are great at telling stories. Make sure to be controlled by this episode in its entirety.