What Story Are You Telling?

Since the dawn of time, people have been fascinated by other people’s stories. Whether it was a tall tale told by a campfire, an article in a newspaper or magazine, a book, a play, or a movie…we seek to understand and connect with other people through stories. 

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What we need to hear more about right now is your story. While you may feel that you are not good enough, famous enough, or interesting enough to stand up and say something, I’m going to argue that this viewpoint isn’t valid.   

Usually, that mindset is based on FEAR. And by FEAR, I mean the acronym.    





Your insecurities tell you that nobody is interested or you aren’t good enough. But I can tell you that I want to hear your story. So, there is at least one person out there. If there is one, there probably is more. I’ll bet your customers, employees, and vendors are interested too. We want to know. 

Types of Stories

Let’s spend a few minutes unlocking the types of stories that you can tell, and you’ll see that it isn’t as scary as you think. When reading these, jot down a few notes about the story you might tell. By the way, stories can become excellent marketing tools for your business. 

The Origin Story

Why are you doing what you do? I don’t care who you are. Everyone has an origin story. At any networking event, one favorite question I ask is, “How and why did you get into what you are doing now?”  It is always captivating to hear about their journey. Therefore, one place to start is with your “Why.”   

Why are you doing what you are doing now? Simon Sinek has a fantastic TedTalk video that has been viewed over sixty million times. If you haven’t watched this, do yourself a favor and invest seventeen minutes in some of the most profound thinking that will supercharge your brain.  

Then, consider telling your origin story inside out, as Simon explains. Why to How to What. 

    • Why are you doing what you do? 
    • How are you different from everyone else? 
    • What do I need to know?

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. That is your Origin Story. Your “Why” needs to be told and is the foundational element of your marketing.   

“We help you make it” is Supacolor’s version of their “Why.” 

Get to know your “Why.” Be able to express it and lead with it. If this article could have a flashing neon sign, it would read “Start With Why.” That’s a story I want to hear. So does everyone else. 

The Struggle Story

As humans, we can relate to people overcoming obstacles and smashing through walls. That “Ah-Ha” breakthrough moment. This shows up all the time. 

    • WD-40 is named that way because it was the fortieth attempt.
    • Edison tried 2,774 ways before landing on a bamboo filament that worked for the light bulb.
    • Michael Jordan famously had pre and post-practice workouts that were legendary.
    • Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, famously received a “C” grade on his idea for the company in a business class.
    • Milton Hershey had two failed candy companies before moving to Pennsylvania and starting a third company focusing on only caramels.

As they say, “the struggle is real.” What have you learned along the way? Don’t be embarrassed or shy away from your history. Instead, embrace it. What did you learn from the struggle? How has that helped you achieve your success today? 

The Struggle Story is relatable as we all struggle. Everyone makes mistakes. The golden nugget with the struggle is expressing how that championed your current level of achievement. 

Any type of redemption story is popular in fiction and media. Failure stories work because they also educate. You can even get others to join by sharing their Struggle Stories and engaging with your company with a relatable comparison.  

The Education Story

Sometimes, a story can teach. In your business, what is complicated or complex? Do your employees, customers, or vendors need to understand something? What isn’t connecting as it should? 

Instead of listing a series of rules or steps, what if you gave an example? Then, when you illustrate the complex with a story, it can break it down into relatable chunks.  

In your business, what educational stories should you be telling? 

    • Customer-Based Education: You want your customers to understand something.
    • Employee-Based Education: You want your employees to comprehend something.
    • Supplier-Based Education: You want your supply chain to realize something.

Like your sixth-grade teacher expressed, tell the story by answering these questions - Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How. Get the details of what you are trying to accomplish organized, and then use a story to illustrate what matters. 

These types of stories work because they help deflect common sales objections and refute any misconceptions that may be out in the marketplace. But, of course, any real-life examples should be shared, especially if customers tell them. 

The Behind The Scenes Story

Many people are fascinated by how things are made and the processes that go into something. What is fun in this industry is that many people own t-shirts, but few know how they are decorated.  

What goes into creating an online store? Can you tell the story of how that event shirt was designed? How is the garment decorated and shipped?  

The behind-the-scenes story is your tool to show your quality and care. Sometimes folks DO want to learn how the sausage is made. The “Behind-The-Scenes” story is your chance to make a great impression.    

You can humanize your brand, as you can share how many people are involved in the process. What’s their story? Why are they working for you? Do they bring something unique to the process? 

This is not the cleaned-up version of what you do, but the messy and sweaty part. Show your truth regarding what you do, how you do it, and why it matters. People respond well to authenticity. 

Higher Purpose Story

Does part of your “Why” story involve a higher purpose? For example, giving back to others, raising money for philanthropy, or helping with a cause or mission? That is a story worth telling.  

Even if you don’t do that all the time. For example, let’s say that on Earth Day, you helped clean up the neighborhood on the streets around your business. Why did you do that? Share the story of your action and the reasons why you got involved. 

You may be raising money for a charity by participating in a walk. Tell that story too.  

Many businesses participate in movements such as the 1% for the Planet, becoming a B-Corporation, or getting an SGP Sustainability Certification. 

You could even feature stories that are simple “routine acts of kindness” where someone in your company did or achieved something remarkable. 

These are the stories that make people stop and think. After reading or hearing about your company with a higher purpose story, people may regard you differently. 

This is not the cleaned-up version of what you do, but the messy and sweaty part. Show your truth regarding what you do, how you do it, and why it matters. People respond well to authenticity. 

Thank You Stories

Did something extraordinary happen? You may have celebrated your first year in business (or even your fiftieth!). You also could have won an award or achieved a milestone. While that may be fantastic news, you didn’t do it alone. You had help. Someone supported you along the way, and that’s the story to tell.    

Maybe someone lent you a hand when no one else would. Or, after the hurricane, some amazing people pitched in to help you repair your business. 

Give thanks by telling the story of that occurrence. What happened, and why did it matter? People respond to that grace when you say thank you and acknowledge your customers, employees, a supplier, or some other organization that helped you along the way. I know I do. 

Stories of Success

A standard tool in the marketing playbook is sharing a success story. You’ve read these before, I’m sure. A rags to riches story. The unbelievable comeback. The “one crazy night there was an epiphany” story. 

People love these stories, as they are aspirational. What they don’t want to hear is bragging. You must be careful with the success story, as it must hit the right note. An audience wants to learn more about something they can relate to, not a pretentious tale that leaves them feeling inferior. 

Get to the Punchline

The point of this article is to illustrate that you need to share more about yourself and your company. People absolutely want to hear your stories, but you have to be brave enough to tell them. 

Your stories can be told in a blog article, an infographic, or even a video. This can be placed permanently on your website and shared on social media. That way, it becomes part of the breadcrumb trail leading everyone back to you. 

After all, when someone types a phrase into a Google search window, do you appear as one of the results? You can control the narrative regarding your company by sharing your best stories with the world. I want to hear them, and I’m sure others do too.