As you might know by now, 2015 is the year of digital media and your company story. All year long, we’ll be delving into the details of what makes a great company story, and how a company story can make all the difference for your business.
Why do I need a company story, you might ask? Think of it this way: the company story, while it might seem like an unessential thing, can mean the difference between success and failure in the business world.
You’ve probably heard of TOMS shoes, right? TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie decided he was going to sell Argentinian peasant shoes (approximate value: 40 cents) to Americans for $40-$60 a pair. His company has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2006. How did he pull it off? The story, of course. Blake decided that for every pair of shoes bought, he was going to give a pair to a child in need (the now famous “One for One” business model). Inevitably, every person who heard about the concept had to tell all their friends about this forward-thinking company. For TOMS, the story made all the difference.
To get started on your own company story, ask yourself the following five questions:
1. Why are you in business?
Why do you do what you do, instead of selling lettuce, for example? Usually, the company story starts with the founder, and the experiences that made him/her want to start a company. This “origin story” is a great way to kick off your company story.
2. What problems do you solve?
Great companies are there to solve a concrete problem their customers have. Framing your company as the solution to an existing problem is a great way to distill your purpose to its very core.
3. How do you stack up to your competitors?
Chances are, you’re not the only company that does what you do. Heck, you probably have some competition right down the street. While your company story doesn’t have to directly compare you to your competitors, it should highlight what is unique about your business, and what sets you apart from the competition.
4. Who are your customers?
Often, it pays to identify your ideal customer in your company story. Whether you’re selling products for “the tech-savvy urbanite” or goods for “the common man”, a shout-out will help to position your company in the marketplace and hopefully resonate with the particular demographic you’re reaching out to. Just remember to keep the description general – you don’t want anyone to feel excluded from being able to be your customer.
5. What’s one thing about your company people don’t know?
In marketing-land, we call this “color”. Too many companies keep their company story to strictly business. Adding a unique detail will help you stick in the customer’s mind, and will show that there are real humans behind that company facade. Do you donate 1% of profits to a particular cause? Is your store in an abandoned factory? Do all your employees skydive together? Let the world know.
Try to keep in mind that writing the company story isn’t always easy, and many people feel the need to go through multiple versions, drafts, and revisions. That’s OK (actually, we encourage it). The more thought you put into your company story, the more likely it will pay off in a big way for your company’s brand.