Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Of Thank You Notes, Colored Pencils and Corporate Storytelling

Chapter One of this Generic Story: The Thank You Note
The latest thank-you note I got was from a 7th grade boy. It was written with one of those pencils where the lead changes color every few strokes. It's like a box of crayons exploded all over the letters. Every kid thinks they are the first person to ever write a note with those kind of pencils. Adults couldn't have possibly ever had something so cool as this. In his cascading colors note, he told me that he and his friends thought my stories I told in his school were "exciting." I, of course, thought this note was a classroom assignment. You know, something like: write the Storyteller and say "thank you." Turns out, this was a spontaneous action on this kid's part. He wrote a note, put it in an envelope, got a stamp and sent it. Getting these notes, from adults and kids, is one of the things I really like about being a professional storyteller.

When's the last time your (teenagers or students) experienced anything that made them hand write a note...for which they were not getting graded? When was the last time the teens in your life had something that wasn't electric grab their attention so thoroughly? That is the power of live storytelling and that is what I do.

Chapter Two of this Generic Story: Corporate Secrets
I'd like to share with you a little reality. Your customers aren't paying attention to your advertising and sales slogging anymore.

They've heard it all before. Numbers no longer slake their thirsts. If you are using the "we're number one" bit, that doesn't impress them. Your "100's of locations" map doesn't matter.

You've burned out their patience and their "Broca's" region is turned off. Your old "hard skills" have worn down to fracturing thinness. Yawn.

I know, you want to hold on to your slick presentation folders, your staff full of degrees, your nice office building. Your professional self-image. Yikes.

So, what are they, your customers, paying attention to? They want you to "surprise Broca." Go ahead and Google that. They're paying attention to and they are thirsting for, the one thing or two that sets you apart. This thing that will scream past their boredom, grab hold of their right-brains and poke them squarely in their mind's eye.

They want your stories. YOUR stories. What makes YOU in YOUR organization exist? You know, if you were really honest about it, your company is not that much different
than your competitors. Go on, no one's looking. Be honest. Let go of your "corporate mythology" of how your Goliath-ness is David proof.

What is different? Your stories? Do you have the most compelling reasons, narratives, records of what keeps your current customers with you? What's the story?

Put my money where my mouth is? What's my story? There are lots of storytellers out there. Principals at schools get packages from storytellers all the time. What makes Sean different? Here's one of many things: I capture the attention of Junior High kids so deeply and so that they run to their textbooks and computers when I am done to learn more about the literature and world folktales that I've been teaching and storytelling. When I work with teens, they write me thank you letters afterwards. Yes, handwritten letters. It's amazing. 13 year olds (even guys) writing, even when they don't have to. That's what sets me apart: stories about how teens are motivated to read, research and write when I am done in the classroom.

Hold on to your slick handouts and your Powerpoints. Facts are okay and needed. What your customers are going to remember are your stories that frame and focus your number and your facts.

Relationships sell. Relationships are built on our stories. They who tell the best story get the sales. They who tell the best story get the most conversion and buy in. This is a hard skill. "Connecting" is no longer an optional skill in business.

And after all my blathering above, what you're going to remember is the story about the multi-colored-lead pencils. Why? Because you probably had some when you were a kid or you've bought them for your own kids. Connecting.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, Sean, you are dead on! Having built my entire success as a Seduction Coach, who teaches men and women how to be successful with the opposite gender, I teach how to create emotional connection, bypassing logic and reason completely.

    Both my students' greatest challenges and rewards come from learning and applying what you just explained:

    EVOKE EMOTION, using PERSONAL STORIES! Give OF yourself (rather than talking ABOUT yourself, trying to persuade) is key to deeply connect with your romantic interest!

    This is true from the boardroom to the bedroom , making seduction- or sales techniques and meaningless small talk obsolete...

    Orlando Owen