I read a lot of press releases. Whether it’s from a brokerage boasting about a great second quarter, a tech company angling to get their new doodad into our Cool Tools section, or an author pitching their latest book, most of them fail on a really basic level: They’re not telling me a story.
Author Nicolas Boillot aims to help you fix that problem when it comes to marketing your business. His newest book (and first foray into the business section), I Killed a Rabid Fox With a Croquet Mallet: Making Your Business Stories Compelling and Memorable (HB Books, 2013), breaks down the elements of a good story into their simplest components. He then explains the relationships between these components. For example, you can spout the values of your business all day long. And you can tell me all you want about how amazing your fourth quarter results are. But can you connect the two? If so, you’re on your way to starting to tell a story.
But that’s just the beginning. Here are some of Boillot’s key points to telling a great story about your business:
Know your audience. It may seem like an obvious point, but that’s just because you remember it from grade school. Things are different now: You’re trying to tell a company’s story. And yet they’re also the same, because you’re trying to tell the story to people. News flash: People don’t want to hear about companies; they want to hear about people. The good news is that your company is full of fascinating people that will tell your company’s story better than it, as an organization, can.
Don’t always follow the leader. Even if it’s you. Boillot reminds readers that while leaders often have a compelling story to tell, “sometimes they have enormous egos, want their stories told, and no one around them has the courage to suggest it’s a bad idea.” Boillot then talks about how he diplomatically helped a CEO see that a video all about how awesome he is would not make for a compelling story, and how he helped the guy introduce some conflict (and other characters) into the tale.