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Indispensable Stories: Build trust and convey value with these two business stories

Emma By Emma, Resident virtual assistant and data lover, Extra Mile Marketing

Every year, our team takes 2-3 days to complete our annual Strategic Planning. “Strat Plan,” as we call it, is where business meets book club.  

We select a book about leadership, business, or marketing, and discuss it as a group as we prepare for the upcoming year.  

This year we read “Stories that Stick” by Kindra Hall. We ran workshops, team building exercises, and brainstormed how we can set ourselves up for success through 2024. 

As the name of our book suggests, this Strat Plan was all about storytelling. 

 

Why Stories Matter  

Numbers are vital to your business as they demonstrate results but shouldn’t be marketed on their own. Stories are the heart of great marketing. They speak louder than stats. 

In Kindra’s book, she discusses the four types of essential business stories, when to use them, and what they’re used for. These include: 

The Value Story 

The Customer Story 

The Founder Story  

The Purpose Story 

In this blog we’ll talk about the value and customer stories, as these two are targeted primarily toward prospects and external audiences. 

 

Value Story

Customer Story

Purpose 

Showcasing the value you bring to your clients, solving pain points that the customer is unable to solve themself.  

Showcasing your expertise in solving a specific client’s need and   fostering excellence 

Primary Audience 

Prospect, Customer 

Prospect, Customer 

Who Should Tell It 

Marketers and Salespeople 

Customers and Companies 

 

The Value Story 

This story can most simply be summarized by asking “How does my service/solution/product help my customer?” 

It bridges two main gaps: 

• The gap between the problem and the value of the solution.

• The gap between the product and the value to the customer.  

“The most important gap any business needs to bridge is the gap between what they offer and the people who, whether they know it or not, need it.” - Hall (57) 

To bridge these gaps, the value story must clearly convey the benefits that your product or solution will bring to your customers, and how it will change their lives for the better.  

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. To understand how to craft a compelling and effective value story, we need to understand our mind’s two main processing systems: System 1 and System 2. 

 

The Two Systems 

System 1 is intuitive. It operates automatically and involuntarily, drawing from a lifetime of experiences and information to make effortless judgments. System 1 loves stories. 

System 2 takes more processing effort. This system is kicked into gear when we see lists, numbers, and price comparisons. When overworked, System 2 leads to cognitive strain and glazed eyes.  

Cognitive strain occurs when our brains make difficult mental calculations. This could include reading a recipe written in messy handwriting, comparing multiple large data sets, or even just trying something new for the first time. Cognitive strain can lead to fatigue and a loss of motivation in completing the task.  

Keep these systems in mind when writing a story. Challenge yourself to see if you can share the value you bring in one concise sentence. Your customer wants to know how your solution will solve their pain points, not every detail about it or what you think about it (that’s for another time).  

 

The Customer Story 

Of the four types of stories, the Customer Story is the only one you can’t tell yourself. These stories are told from the client’s perspective which increases your credibility and shows other similar prospects what success looks like. 

“The customer story is in a world of its own because it eliminates the nagging voice that questions whether or not you can believe a story if it’s the seller telling it. With a customer story, it’s not the company, it’s a person-- just like you-- who tried it and loved it and has nothing to gain by telling you.”- Hall (139) 

 

Finding the Customer Story 

One way of gathering a customer story is reaching out directly at the end of a project. Send your customer a survey or request a testimonial. Some helpful questions to prompt them could be: 

“How did you hear about us?” 

“Why did you originally select our company to implement your solution?  

“What benefit (s) have you realized since the implementation?  Were there some benefits that you did not anticipate? 

The strongest customer stories are the ones in which their voices can shine. Chances are, they’d be happy to pass along a good word. 

 

Keep the value and customer stories in mind when creating your marketing strategies! The value story shows how your service will bridge a gap in your prospects’ needs, and the customer story proves that your service bridged that same gap for others. 

Our team is passionate about telling your unique business stories and creating impactful narratives that make you shine. Contact us at emma@emminc.com to get started.  

 

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