Write Stories That Sell, #1
It was a rainy Tuesday morning in September, 2012. I sat in the boardroom at the Q4 sales meeting, along with 12 sales reps and line managers. After dwelling on the sales figures it was time for me to stand up and deliver my marketing update.
I delivered most of my talk to glazed expressions. Then the subject I had been avoiding came about. The website.
In the weeks before the meeting I had been busy. I had replaced the stock images of unrealistically happy people with photos of real employees. I had rewritten most of the homepage content, cutting out the corporate drivel. I had increased the font size so everything was actually readable.
I published the updates, sent a company-wide email to 60 people, and sat back.
Can you guess how much feedback I received?
None that is, if you ignored the sound of knives being sharpened.
Owen, the sales director, piped up first.
“I’ve had complaints about the website from partners and customers. It isn’t corporate enough. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, but it needs to have more zass.”
“Yeah!” piped up Colin. “Have a look at ABC Corp’s website! We want a website exactly like theirs.”
Contrary to what Colin thought I had actually looked at ABC Corp’s website. I thought it was another ‘mee too’ website, with meaningless corporate branding and empty statements.
I thought there was a big opportunity to zag, as the saying goes. I thought there was an opportunity to ditch the clichés and produce a website that actually spoke to our customers.
But no. That wasn’t what the sales team wanted. They wanted a safe, corporate website that was under no circumstances to impart any meaningful information.
I imagine you are reading this series because you want to communicate meaningful information to your customers. You want them to pay attention to that information and spend their money with you.
I believe stories are hands-down the best way to deliver information. Most corporate people are terrified at the prospect of exposing themselves and telling a story or two.
The one thing people struggle with above anything else is the idea that their stories are boring.
Please take a second to think about today’s video (link at the top) and the sales meeting story above.
I was not doing anything amazing or unusual in either story.
The stories became interesting because I identified the drama in them and followed a specific structure.
You already have all the stories you need. They may seem boring to you, but if you structure them correctly they won’t be boring to your audience.
We’ll talk more about that structure tomorrow.