What is Your Story?

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What is your Story?

Everyone and every company has a story. How you go about telling that story is the difference in making the story memorable and motivational. Storytelling has been going on since the beginning of human existence. The stories most of us remember as a child are the ones with a simple, yet relatable or emotional message.

Marketing professionals often forget this when writing the next data sheet, PowerPoint presentation or press announcement. All those data specs don’t tell the audience “Why should I care about this?” or “What’s in it for me?”

Say you’re introducing a new toaster. Do folks really care that the toaster was built on the latest electronic/electrical toaster platform? No. They care how the toaster will perform. How long will it last? How many things can it toast at one time, price and so on? Yes, this is a simplified example, but way too many tech marketers get hung up on the latest specifications while the customer benefits and value propositions get lost. How are all these specs relatable? One thing (among many) that I have learned in my PR/marketing career is to answer the question: Why do I care? If you can’t answer this question clearly and convincingly, then something is wrong with your marketing message.

I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Jeff Bloomfield, the author of “Story Based Selling – Create, Connect and Close.” If you ever have the chance to attend any of his presentations – I highly recommend it. In his book, Bloomfield discusses how we interpret and retain information. He references a study done by the London Business School on retention rates:

  • When presenting statistics/facts only retention was only 5 to 10%
  • When combined with stories & visuals retention increased to 25 to 30%
  • Storytelling alone, retention rose to 65 to 70%.

Here’s a personal story of mine. When I started out in my career, I worked for a major defense contractor; the largest employer in my town. I worked in the Human Resources department, processing in new-hires. It was a great job as I got to meet a lot of interesting people as well as interface on occasion with the higher-ups. Yes, I delivered the mail too. One day, we had a reduction in force – a massive layoff of hourly employees. I was asked to join the termination team for the day to help process out the laid-off employees. It was very emotional as the majority of hourly employees only had a few hours’ notice. Men were crying at my desk and in shock as they didn’t know how they were going to feed their families. It was long and emotionally-draining 12-hour day, processing paperwork for hundreds of people. At the end of that awful day, my boss called me into his office and laid me off! “What, that can’t be, I’m a salaried employee,” I said. The boss went on to say, “It’s affected many of us salaried employees and I’m being transferred to Africa.” Wow! You can imagine my shock. I’m sure anyone who has been laid off can relate in some fashion.

That experience was an important life lesson that left a very lasting impression on me. It was then that I decided that someday I’d have my own company in order to be more in control of my own destiny – and I did.

What’s your story?

Happy Marketing,

PJ Jennings

As president of Jennings & Associates Communications, PJ is an accomplished writer and has been published in numerous data center, IT Networking, engineering, electrical, power and renewable trade publications.


Also published on Medium.

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