The Startup
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The Startup

Your Startup’s Future Success Is In Your Story — It’s Time You Invested In It

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

“Treats for doing dog things” I’m baffled. What do you mean ‘dog things’? What’s so good about these treats?

“Transact Safely With Our Peer-to-Peer Escrow-Style Payment Platform” WTF does this even mean??? Alexaaa…any idea?

“Popcorn reinvented” Yeah… AND…?

“The next generation of dating apps” Ok, but I’m already using Tinder, Bumble and Thursday. AND I’M STILL F*CKING SINGLE. Tell me, why should I spend time on your dating app?

“The smart security system for your air” My air? Huh? I’m confused… Why do I need this in my life?

Before I start working with a startup to help them tell their story, I check out their website and pay attention to the first words meeting my eyeballs. You’ve just seen a few examples ☝️

Now, be real with me. Do any of these headlines resonate with you? Do they inspire you? Do you feel compelled to read more? I mean, do YOU even feel like they’re talking to you? Nope. Me neither. I feel like they don’t understand me. I feel like they don’t care. I feel confused and annoyed because now I need to figure out, FOR MYSELF, what they can do to help a specific need of mine. Yep! I now need to invest my time to understand what these headlines actually mean FOR ME AKA the person they want to buy from them and spread the word about how amazing their product and service is ​​🤣

Honestly. It’s careless communication. It’s a waste of words. It’s a waste of energy for me, for their business, for everyone.

If you’re a startup reading this, PAY ATTENTION. You neeeeed to hear this! Your startup’s future success depends on it.

Hold up! Let’s set the scene for where you might be with your company first…

You’ve built a product and it’s out there in the big world. You’re working hard to get word out and the engagement is low compared to the amount of time and energy you’re investing. “FFS! Why is this happening?” You feel stuck, stressed out and lost.

The thing is, you’ve done your research. Your product works. You know people need it. But why aren’t people connecting with it? Why aren’t they buying it? Why aren’t they getting excited about it? Why aren’t they talking about it? What’s wrong with this product you’ve spent, what feels like a lifetime, building?

Please hear me loud when I say this, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

This is a dilemma SO MANY founders and entrepreneurs have come up against. Including myself.

I’m here to share why this is happening and what you can do to turn this around. And YOU CAN turn this around. Trust me.

So for now, STOP what you’re doing. Grab a hot drink and sit tight. We’re gonna get through this.

(*Cue Daniel Bedingfield — Gotta Get Through This*)

Houston, we have a story problem

Not a marketing problem. Not a branding problem. A STORY PROBLEM. The reason why people aren’t connecting with what you say and what you sell is because you’re telling the wrong story. OR WORSE… you’re telling no story at all.

I honestly believe that’s the ultimate reason why thousands of businesses fail all over the world.

So listen, if you don’t pivot your story soon, you will fail too. I know this because it happened to me in 2012. My startup fashion app failed to reach product market fit because I was telling the wrong story to the wrong people. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with understanding the stories behind businesses. More specifically, the stories that connect people with businesses.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

The only way to stop your business from failing is to tell a better story. A story that people want AND need to see and hear. A story that makes people feel seen, heard and understood. A story that makes people feel part of your story. A story you share with them. A story that makes them feel alive. A story that says: “YOU belong here.”

Before we go any further, let’s get on the same page with what I mean by ‘tell a better story’.

I mean…

  • Tell a story that communicates a clear message
  • Tell a story consistently, everywhere
  • Tell a story that makes people feel compelled to take action
  • Tell a story in different, creative ways across different medias
  • Tell a story that’s oozing with emotion
  • Tell a story that’s heart-hitting and soul-affirming
  • Tell a story that inspires people to do better and be better
  • Tell a story that creates culture and builds communities
  • Tell a story that makes people feel less alone
  • Tell a story that helps people get to know themselves better
  • Tell a story that has bounce and rhythm — a cohesive sound like a P. Diddy or Usher album

Why YOU NEED to invest in telling your story

If you want people to connect with your business, engage with all the content you’re putting out into the world, and BUY your product/service, you need to tell a story that they can see themselves in.

BIG POINT coming up…

It’s not just your story. It’s your customers’ story too.

It’s true. Think about the headlines you read at the beginning of this story. Did any of those make you feel like the business GETS YOU? Think about it… All five of those website headlines talked about the product in some way. What about YOU? What about the person who will be using the product/service? (Yeah… That’s what I’m thinking.) It’s craaaaazy how many businesses bang on about their product/service without bringing their customer into their story. Seriously. DON’T BE THAT BUSINESS! It will be a fatal move.

Repeat after me: It’s not just my story. It’s my customers’ story too.

Another BIG POINT coming up…

Your story gives people a reason to connect with your business.

Stories are universal. Stories create the connection points that remind us we have more in common than we think. It doesn’t matter who we are culturally, racially, sexually…. WE ALL have connection points. As a brand, YOUR JOB is to uncover and tell stories that are diverse and inclusive so all kinds of people feel seen, heard and understood by your business.

Repeat after me: My story gives people a reason to connect with my business. Without it, people won’t feel seen, heard or understood by my business.

You need to tell your whole story.

Not just the bits that you like telling because it feels comfortable. Not just the parts that sound good to you and your team. I’m talking about the parts of your story that invite people to get to know you, share their stories with you and be present with you on the journey — THEIR JOURNEY.

Repeat after me: My story isn’t just about my product/service. It’s about the people I’m building my product/service for and where they want to be.

When you tell your story, you’re giving people an invitation to be present with you. That’s the magic of storytelling

When you tell a better story, you bring people closer to you. More specifically, you:

  • Remind people they’re not alone. I call this the Empathy Story.
  • Show people you exist to help them work and live better. I call this the Purpose Story.
  • Take people on a journey with you towards something better. I call this the Origin Story.
  • Make it easier for people to understand exactly how you can help them. I call this the Product Story.
  • Give people a glimpse of hope for the future. I call this the Vision Story.

So, what are you waiting for?

You’ve got a better story to tell.

It’s time to start telling it.

👋 Hiiiii! I’m Amanda, founder & creator of 5 Stories a methodology that helps businesses tell stories that connect with people. I work closely with founders and marketing leaders to help them fulfil their vision through storytelling.

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