Imagine that you're considering a remodeling project to turn your dining room into a sun room. You ask several remodeling companies to come to your house to discuss the project and give you an estimate. You show each of them the space you have to work with and ask them to tell you what possibilities they see in the space.
The first one replies, "We can make this whole wall glass."
You ask the same question of the second and he replies, "We can knock out the walls and rebuild this into a sun room."
You ask the third representative the same question. He replies, "This room could be really special. I'd like to create a space that's illuminated with warmth and sunlight; a space that will lift your spirits each and every time you set foot in here."
Which of these companies would you want working on your home? The one who will put in some glass or the one who's creating a special place that will lift your spirits? I know which one I'd prefer: the one who inspired an emotional response from me. The one who, through his interactions with me, conveyed his Company Story.
What's your company story?
When we use the term "Company Story," we're not talking about the biography of your company or the logical, sequential time line of how you got to where you are today. When we say Company Story, we mean the story that illustrates the essence of what your business is all about. It is a tale of passion, motivation and opportunity. It's the inspiration that recruits, sells and impacts all your constituencies the way you always intended.
Your Company Story brands your business as something exceptional in a market of mediocrity. It differentiates you from your competition in a true and meaningful way. Think about the world's most successful big businesses. They started from the same place you did. They created stories that became legends, stories that built a following, and understanding of the spirit of the company.
Telling your story
Your Company Story isn't a tag line. It's not about saying "we're the best at this" or "we specialize in that." It's about telling your story so that the only conclusion your audience can possibly make is that you really are the best without actually spelling it out. You must live and breathe your Company Story. You should exemplify your story in everything you do.
Your Story isn't just one story—it can be many stories that make up the whole. It's the moments in time that illustrate what you're all about. If you can capture those moments and use them to communicate who you are, you'll elicit the emotional response that will turn a prospect into a client, a potential employee into a loyal member of your team and create a brand of which legends are made.
Take EMyth for example
Recently one of our clients (based in the U.S.) decided to take a trip to Brazil. He was so enthusiastic about the work he was doing with EMyth that he didn't want to postpone any of his coaching sessions during his trip. But without a land line or cell phone, regular telephone communication seemed impossible.
After some brainstorming with our IT department, we came up with a solution: Skype. Skype is free software that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet. By using Skype on his laptop, our client was able to continue his regular one-on-one telephone coaching sessions as he floated down the Amazon River, and his coach got to listen to the sounds of the rain forest in the background.
So how is that part of our Company Story? I could have just told you: "We transform businesses worldwide." But that wouldn't have put a face to the idea that we're committed to our client's no matter where they are on the planet. It wouldn't have illustrated the lengths we go to in order to be "worldwide." Again, it's not about hitting somebody over the head with a statement; it's about communicating in a way that undeniably leads your audience to the conclusion you want to convey.
It starts from within
Your Company Story is also one of your most powerful internal training tools. It helps your employees understand the why behind your business: why the company was started, why you do the things you do, why you have certain systems in place. It helps bring the concept of your brand promise alive and helps business leaders create a "game worth playing" for the entire team.
Going back to the remodeling example. The person making the bid may not be the owner of the company, but if the managing leaders of the business have done their job, I'll hear the same Company Story from him as I would from the owner. If your employees understand the why of the business, if they can convey your Company Story, you've just put yourself ahead of the competition.