I believe we all love a good story. In fact, we watch movies and TV shows because we love the storytelling that happens within them and the journey they take us on. But somehow in business, I think, we get a disconnect between storytelling, our brand, and marketing.
Like me, I am sure many businesses spend tons of money on marketing, believing that it will make a difference. Sometimes I feel like we are missing the greatest marketing advantage each of us has…and that is telling our story…our unique story that could resonate with more potential customers and clients.
The fact is businesses need more than marketing, we need storytelling of our brand.
Connie’s motivational quote for today is by – Jacob Moss
“Whatever you do and whatever story you’re writing, make it human – make sure the human element is at the center of it and shapes it.”
About Paul Furiga:
Paul and his book, “Finding Your Capital S Story: Why Your Story Drives Your Brand,“ takes you on a journey to understand the research and history of how storytelling is scientifically, biologically, and historically the best marketing you have available to you.
How to Get in Touch With Paul Furiga:
Free Gift: http://wordwritepr.com/storycrafting
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All-Star Community: https://changingthesalesgame.mykajabi.com/All-Star-Community
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Paul Furiga – Why Stories Matter With Customers, Employees, Investors, Or Partners?
Welcome to the show. As always, thanks so much for joining us. Every week, as you tune in to this show, I am trying to change your sales game and get you off the bench and in the game. I want to change your mindset or help you change that mindset of maybe fear-based or that word sales as icky and sleazy. I want to help you navigate that type of change in mindset.
Go to my website and take your Free Communication Style Assessment. It will give you your natural communication superpowers, how people are perceiving you. It is very important to understand that. It will also give you your lowest intensity or your lowest score, which is a blind spot. I shine a light on that by sharing a report on how you can navigate those that are opposite of you and still be able to connect and sell at the highest level of integrity and respect. Come and join me. I hope you enjoy that free gift.
My motivational quote for this episode is by Jacob Moss. Jacob says, “Whatever you do and whatever story you’re writing, make it human. Make sure the human element is at the center of it and shape it.” I believe we all love a good story. We all watch movies and TV shows because we love the storytelling that happens within them and the journey that the characters take.
Somehow in business, I often feel like we get a disconnect between that storytelling or brand and marketing. Like me, I assume many business owners spend probably a lot of money on marketing believing that it will make all the difference. The other thing I feel like is sometimes, we’re missing the greatest marketing advantage each of us has. That’s telling our story or sharing our unique story that could resonate with potentially more customers and clients. The fact is businesses need more than marketing. We really need storytelling of our brand. My guest is back for the second time. He was on my other show Enlightenment of Change. His name is Paul Furiga.
Paul’s book, Finding Your Capital S Story: Why Your Story Drives Your Brand, takes us on a journey to understand the research and history of how storytelling is scientifically, biologically, and historically the best marketing you have available to you. Paul has written and edited over 20,000 stories as a journalist. He knows his craft here. He’s covering everything from murders to the White House. When he moved into the agency side of the marketing world, he spent a few years at Ketchum, long-known as one of the world’s top PR firms. Please help me welcome Paul to the show. We’re going to dig in and talk about why storytelling is so important.
Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to see you again. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you and your fabulous audience.
I love spending time with you. Here is my first question. I want to set the stage. What is the difference between a regular story and a capital S story? That will ground the conversation for us to go further.
As business leaders, we tell stories all day long. We’re sharing stories about products. We’re sharing stories with employees or other stakeholder audiences about how to get things done. We’re telling stories about a golf game or how we spent our weekend. Those are small S stories because with rare exceptions, they’re here now and gone tomorrow, or in the 21st-century digital age, they’re here now and gone in five minutes. You can’t remember them. They might be fun to listen to or maybe not. You don’t remember them is the point.
The capital S story stands above the others. That’s why it gets that capital S. It gets that capital S because it answers these four fundamental questions, why somebody would buy from you, why somebody would work for you, why somebody would invest in you, and why somebody would partner with you. These are all considerations that the audience has at one time or another.
The answers to these questions form the raw material for your capital S story. It’s the story that describes the character and nature of your organization. It’s very much akin to what one of my favorite authors, Simon Sinek, calls your why. Why do you do what you do? Sinek often says, and this relates directly to sales, people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. If you are in a business or an industry where it’s difficult to differentiate your product or service from your competitors, you need to be sharing your capital S story.
It’s true. I have corporate clients and then I have these small business owners and private clients. It’s relevant for anybody. On my corporate side, a lot of them are banks. A bank is a bank. They’re all doing the same thing. I always go in and say, “Why should I choose you as my bank?” versus, “I can walk out of your brick-and-mortar building. There are ten choices within walking distance. Why do I choose you?” That’s where this capital S story becomes super relevant because it differentiates you from the competition. On a global scale, consultants, coaches, authors, public speakers, and podcast hosts are dime a dozen. What differentiates us in that story is the essence of who we are and who our organization is important.
What you shared about banks, think of it this way. That’s a heavily regulated industry, right?
What you’re going to get as interest on your savings or how your checking account is going to be structured, or even the loans is going to be pretty similar. It’s like your little story. You walk out the front door. If you’re in the right spot downtown of your hometown or wherever, you can throw a rock and hit 3 or 4 other banks. That financial stuff is going to be similar. In the capital S story, if you think about those four questions, each one of those questions, the answer defines a kind of relationship. Ultimately, what sales comes down to, what marketing comes down to, and what business comes down to is relationships. That’s what the differentiator is. That’s your capital S story.Sales, marketing, and eventually all of business comes down to relationships. That is the differentiator. Click To Tweet
Why has there been a shift from traditional advertising and branding to this more story-based marketing? I’ve got to tell you. My inbox is filled with, “Are you telling your story?” A few years ago, it was all about marketing and advertising. Now, I’m seeing a lot more with the storytelling. What’s causing the shift in that?
It’s very interesting. There are several reasons for that. There are three main ones. Number one is digital clutter. We’re overwhelmed by information. If you’re selling or marketing something, you’re trying to break through. Number two, science shows us that the way our brains process information is through narrative or story. I can get on the internet and find out what the temperature is in Stockholm. Do I need to know that? Not really, but there’s so much out there.
I’m overwhelmed and I’m trying to make sense of how to make the best decisions for my business, my family, etc. Science shows us, and I know we’re going to talk about this a little bit more in-depth, that our brains use the narrative format or the story format to make sense of this overload. For the third reason, I don’t know if this is a result of the first two, but it is what it is. A lot of research has been done on consumers. The largest generation worldwide is the Millennials. Close behind that is Gen Z.
I’m a Boomer. Sad to say though, we’re passé. Even the Millennials are passé. I was in another meeting and we were talking about the differences between Gen Z and Millennials. They don’t like each other. There are some different characteristics there. The point, though, for our consideration on this topic is this. Both of those generations of individuals have grown up in a time when they’ve been repeatedly lied to by advertising.
In a lot of ways, they were lied to by a lot of the events that they’ve experienced in the world. They do not trust advertising. They much more trust what other folks that they respect are going to share with them. In some extreme cases, it might be an influencer on Instagram that they like. Many people in the audience might say, “Why would they listen to them?” More often, it’s somebody like them who has the same challenge or experience and came to a solution. Typically, that’s described in story format.
It is like, “Sue is a person like you. She’s the same age. She had the same problem. She used this product, hired this company, or used this service. It worked.” They’ll remember the story about Sue and respect that experience far more than a 30-second television commercial where you’re sitting there minding your own business and watching whatever show you’re watching. The commercial comes out and the volume is ten times louder. There’s a marching band, confetti, and all kinds of crazy stuff. But there is somebody in a Sharkskin suit that you don’t trust. It’s a different generation. Those are the three main reasons.
It’s fascinating. Remember my intro about the icky and sleazy? Since they’ve been duped and sold a bag of goods or whatever it is, they were deceived in some way and life to a certain extent. It is like, “Get that degree. Get that job. You’ll make $1 million.” They’ve been lied to. You’re right. Society has “lied” to them. I did a post about Ted Lasso on LinkedIn.
I love Ted Lasso.
It is a great show. Everybody should watch it if you have it. It’s on Hulu or Disney+.
It started out on Apple TV. I’m not sure where it is.
Apple, that’s the one. You got to go back and watch it. Another season is coming out. The core piece of the puzzle though is Ted Lasso, who’s a football coach to soccer in the UK, it was setting him up for failure. He believed in his team and building a team. They become quite successful. There were a lot of challenges along the way.
I happen to use that from a sales perspective to say, “What team are you building? Are they working together? Are they serving the client?” It’s always about the client. My inbox blew up on LinkedIn. They were all the younger generations. They weren’t my peers. They were saying, “Who brings Ted Lasso into business first?” They thought that was cool.
They loved the message because they had watched Ted Lasso and understood the concept, and then how they can relate that to their customer, business, career, or whatever it might be. That’s the power of that storytelling. It is finding trust. I made that connection for them. That’s a TV show that’s relevant, but they could bite into that with the logic of what I was trying to teach in that post. Am I getting it right?
Yeah, you are. For you and me, and I suspect for everybody in the audience, we’re not as interested in building a book of business or a business that’s one and done. We want those relationships. To your point about trust, sharing the right story with the right people and the right place at the right time is how you start to gain that trust. If that is successful, you begin a dialogue, and that dialogue becomes that relationship.
If we think back to what we talked about a few minutes ago about banks, I know who my banker is. We have a relationship. We started out with one kind of product from that bank. Now we have several more. That’s what they want over there at the bank. They want us to have a deeper relationship and be using more of their services and products, right?
Absolutely, 100%. It starts with the relationship, which is about trust and the story, especially if it’s an authentic story. You and I have immigrant parents. People can relate to that if they have immigrant parents. Especially since we’re both Italian so that’s Italian work ethic. You intuitively know what you’re going to get if you hire a Paul or a Connie because we know what hard work is and we’re not afraid of it. We almost embrace it. I have another question. What can a capital story do, and let’s stick with that sales and marketing, that other approaches are falling short?
The reason why the book is titled Why Your Story Drives Your Brand is too often, it’s easy for us to get into the shiny object syndrome. If we start our thinking about marketing, it would be, “Do I need a Facebook page or do I need to be on LinkedIn?” My answer would be, “It depends on what story you need to tell to get to the audience that’s most valuable to you. Maybe that audience isn’t on Facebook or LinkedIn. Maybe you don’t need to make a new logo or spend a bunch of money on brochures.”
Too often, the way people approach this aspect of sales and marketing. It reminds me of somebody deciding they’re going to go to California. They jump in the car and they go. People are like, “Where are you going?” They’re like, “I’m going to California.” People are like, “Where in California?” They’re like, “I don’t know. Everybody else is going, so I need to go.” The capital S story is a simple concept. It’s also a strategic concept. You have to have your story first. I need to know who your audience is, what they want to hear from you, and how your authentic story relates to that.
Over the years at our company, we’ve developed our own trademark process called Story Crafting to uncover, develop, and then share this capital S story concept. We use a number of tools along the way. Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to help our clients create what we call an archetypal story. If I said to you, “I got a new client and they’re a David and Goliath story,” you don’t have to be a biblical scholar to know that that’s the underdog. It’s the little guy taking on the big guy. That’s an example of an archetype.
For success with your capital S story, it’s a combination of finding the right archetypal story and marrying that with the authentic specifics of your business. It is so that you can say something like, “Like David took on Goliath and knocked him down, our technology business does A, B, and C to produce X, Y, and Z results.” We worked with somebody years ago. Their archetype was Houdini. This person interviewed the CEO of a company to work with them.
Later on, the CEO couldn’t remember the name of the company. I’ll bet this has never happened to anybody in the audience that somebody said to them, “I was going to call you but I couldn’t remember your name,” or whatever. The CEO says to his assistant, “Get me Houdini.” The poor woman had to go find Houdini, but she did. The CEO remembered that kind of story. It turns out in that case that the value proposition was a tech expert. No matter what your technical computer problem was, like Houdini, he could get you out of it.
That’s so cool.
Isn’t that fun?
I have a question. For the archetypes, you have Houdini and David and Goliath. Are there certain ones or do you craft them based on the business?
You craft it based on the business from the twelve major families of archetypes that are recognized. For the audience, you’ll see these everywhere in great movies, books that you love, and plays. You name it. For example, for anybody who’s a Star Wars fan, Luke Skywalker is the outlaw archetype and so is Dirty Harry and Robin Hood. In business, so is Southwest Airlines.
Think about Robin Hood for a minute. He takes from the rich and gives to the poor. That’s the basic idea. The Southwest Airlines corollary is all the airlines do stupid stuff and Southwest doesn’t. In their advertising, it is very Robin Hood-like. They’d use their real employees, too, which is cool. They would have gate agents rescuing employees by removing them from other airline counters and taking them. They have baggage people rescuing the bags from the other airlines’ airplanes.
The twelve, I could tick through them all. There is the jester, the magician, the sage, the explorer, the outlaw, the caregiver, the hero, and the innocent. Those are most of them right there. Each one of those represents a family. There can be thousands of archetypes. I wrote an article about this that was published in Healthcare Business Today. Every company that works in healthcare, aren’t they a caregiver?
You would hope.
I came across a company that keeps ambulances maintained. If the ambulance isn’t maintained and you need the ambulance, that’s bad. Aren’t they part of that? If everybody is a caregiver, then there’s no differentiation. That’s why combinations are important. Back to the digital clutter and the overload we all experience, it helps people provide the context to understand what you do.
You’re not just a company that does maintenance for commercial fleets. You’re in healthcare. You’re a certain kind of caregiver. Every man is a caregiver. Think of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It is that great black and white film from the ‘30s where he’s standing on the floor of the Senate with this incredibly long filibuster fighting the powers that be. If you make it possible for anybody in the world to get an ambulance when they need it by maintaining the ambulances, then you are some combination of every man and caregiver. I hope that gives you an idea of how these things work together.
That’s the clarity. We all know those stories, so it makes it so much easier to translate for our ideal client to say, “This is exactly what resonates with me. It is exactly what I need right now.” It is because we know that story.
I’ll talk about one of the things we’ve done in our work, to give the audience a little bit of context. There’s a lot of science that shows how the brain works with stories that we can perhaps talk about if we have time. There are two people who have informed our work and we’re technically in the marketing field. They are Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst, and Joseph Campbell, the mythologist.
I’ll talk about this quickly for the audience to give an idea of why this is so important and why it works so well. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud are two of the best-known psychoanalysts in history. Jung is practicing in Switzerland during World War I. In World War I and World War II, there is Switzerland in the middle of Europe, a neutral country. They were fighting anybody.
What happens is people are coming to Switzerland from all these other countries who are experiencing the terrorism of war. He’s putting these people on his couch. What does he discover? It was that no matter the language, the level of economic attainment, or where they came from, the people he’s seeing are all telling the same stories. They’re having the same dreams, which leads Jung to this concept he calls the collective unconscious. He believes that human beings, said one way or another, all tell the same stories all the time. That’s the archetypal story thing from one perspective.
Joseph Campbell, whom George Lucas worked with to develop the Star Wars movies, is one of the most famous academics who never got a PhD. During the Depression, Campbell wanted to get a PhD, and no university would take him. Instead, he traveled the world. As he traveled the world and learned, he discovered that regardless of culture, geography, economic attainment, and language, every culture he visited around the world, they were telling the same stories over and over again.
One story for Campbell stood above the others. It’s known as the monomyth of the hero’s journey. If you think about most popular culture that we’re exposed to, especially as my wife would call them the bang, bang, shoot them up films, that’s the archetype that you see there. Those are the John Cena films, the Rocky movies, and Rambo. There are more archetypes than that. Not everybody in business is a Rambo because we’d all be shooting and killing each other. That would be bad, but you get the basic idea there.
Campbell realized that the power of story was the one unifying factor in every culture that he studied around the world. It became his life’s work. Right there, you’ve got two giants of thinking who validate the importance of having a great story to share. We all have a great story to share. The problem in business too often is we see what the competitor is doing and think, “We have to do that too. They changed their logo, so we’ll change our logo too,” or, “They get a new website. We’ve got a new website.”
The focus of our work is suggesting that might be necessary, but it also might not be. What is critically important all the time is uncovering your great story. What’s the passion or the reason you got into business? Why does your business exist? Why do you go to work every day? Why do people buy from you? The answers to those questions, that’s your story. That is your most powerful marketing asset. It’s the only one that only you uniquely own.Why does your business exist? Why do you go to work every day? Why do people buy from you? That’s your story. That is your most powerful marketing asset. It’s the only one that you uniquely own. Click To Tweet
You might be in a business where you’re selling some product, and there might be three other competitors who sell exactly the same product. You can all compete on price until you put each other out of business, or else, you have to find another reason why somebody should buy from you rather than the other guy. You’ve got a great story. Where is it? Are you using it?
Do you know what I think too? We’re inundated with, “You need to write copy. Your subject line matters.” We’re so in the weeds on this stuff. We keep putting the cart for the horse. We’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on the wrong stuff because we’re starting at the wrong place. We’re putting pieces of the puzzle that are from different puzzles. We’re not creating our own puzzles. That’s the visual as you’re describing this.
You’re a great storyteller because as you’re giving these examples, you’re telling the story of why we need a story. It’s so impactful. We keep taking puzzle pieces from different puzzles and trying to make them our own. What we have is a hot mess instead of starting with our story. Do we need a new website or do we need to go in and tweak what we already have instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water and doing new marketing, new email campaigns, and all these things?
You’re right. We’re listening to the other people out there that do what I do. They’re spending money on this, “I better go and look at that. What should I be doing? What am I missing?” versus, “Who am I at the core? Let me start and build from there.” It’s the fear of missing out. We feel like we’re missing out on something and that we’re not good enough. It goes back to that as well. I don’t know. How do you land with that one?
It’s very important. Let’s face it. For those of you who are in the audience, I suspect not all of you are running Fortune 500 companies. Everything we do, especially in American business, we compare to those big companies. That leads to the business variation of the Imposter syndrome. I’ll use Southwest and I’ll talk about Nike and some other big companies as examples. People will sometimes say to me, “I’m not Nike. I’m not Southwest.” Absolutely you are not. The only reason I use them as examples is because they don’t require a whole heck of a lot of explanation. You may not like Nike shoes, but you know who they are. You may never have flown Southwest, but you know who they are. They’re good examples for the rest of us.
By and large, the majority of business leaders and businesses who need to share their stories are not big household names. You can have great success doing this anyway. Whatever pond you’re fishing in or whatever universe you live in, the same human biology drives the interactions and the relationships that we need in order to be successful.
It’s funny because when I teach, I say there are always two conversations going on, but one is very conscious. About 10% of our conversations are about body language. We can see each other. We’re speaking English. It is all of those things. There’s 90% that is the subconscious, which is exactly what you’re talking about. Why should someone buy from us? They’re making that decision at the subconscious level. They don’t know that it’s a subconscious level, but it’s all emotionally charged.
Somebody said that people don’t buy an emotion. I thought, “In my 40 years of sales, people buy on emotions and connections to you. How does it feel to them if they buy what you’re selling? Is it going to serve something in their life immediately to help them with whatever you’re selling?” It is 90% unconscious through feelings and emotions that people make these decisions.
If we can fast forward that whole process because we’re using that story like David and Goliath, which I know who they are. How do I brand or how do I come from that perspective? That’s at the core of my business and of my soul as a business owner. That’s what people are going to buy. They’re going to buy that emotional connection.
Here’s the other thing, and I know we’re out of time. The other thing is when we get the story clear, the ideal clients find us because we’re clear with our story in the first place. Naturally and organically, people will find us. They’re like, “Where have you been my whole life? You’re the business I’ve been looking for. You’re the solution I’ve been looking for.” Is that what you find with your clients often?
Absolutely. We sometimes refer to this process you described as synaptic shortcuts. I don’t have to go through a slide of features, benefits, and bullet points to explain. People get it right away. This goes back to what we talked about with Jung a few minutes ago. His collective unconscious concept was that the brain is already hardwired for stories and there are stories that we already know. If I don’t have to explain my story to you, I can say, “My story is exactly like this story you already know. What’s different about it is the specifics of my business. Look at how much clutter I’ve cut out of the conversation. I’m already at the point that you described.”
To your point, I love this truism. People decide rationally and they buy emotionally. I do believe that’s true. Our core work is with providers of complex services and products. That’s in healthcare, medical devices, services, law firms, and accounting firms. With law firms, you don’t hire a lawyer unless they have a law license. That’s the way it is. That’s a table stake, so what is beyond that? Beyond that is what we’re talking about. It’s that authentic story that separates one firm from another and allows the person who needs legal services to make that emotional connection. The story, ideally, that’s shared by the firm that’s hired is the one that makes the most sense to them and that they can see themselves being a part of working with that kind of a lawyer or person.
If I don’t feel the connection, it goes back to how we started. It’s about building relationships. If the person doesn’t want to be in the relationship, they don’t trust me. Gen Zs and Millennials, that’s what they’re going through. Since this is such a big population that’s buying, we have to serve them where they are and how they feel. We need to address that authentically and organically.
This is such a fascinating subject. It goes back to the cavemen. How do we have history from when we didn’t have journals, books, and tablets that we could write on? They did things on stones through hieroglyphics, but they were sharing those stories. That’s the same thing coming forward. We get caught in the weeds and all the stuff we need. Start with the basics. It’s like going back to base camp, right?
Yes, it is. It’s basic training. It’s simple but it’s also very strategic. This is your roadmap for success. Your story is your roadmap to success. Back to my California analogy. Before you start citing what hotel you’re going to stay in, whether you need to rent a car, an RV, or any of those other decisions, don’t you want to know why you’re making the trip in the first place?Your story is your roadmap to success. Click To Tweet
Let’s save time and money. You’ve got to start with the basic story. Everyone, I don’t know about you, but we all need Paul in our life. Go to Paul’s website, WordWritePR.com. If you have a question that is specific that you’d like to tap into Paul to see what he’s about, go to Paul.Furiga@WordWritePR.com. Last thing, we have a free gift, which is StoryCrafting. Briefly tell us what the free gift helps my audience do.
They’re going to get a chapter from my book, Finding Your Capital S Story, that will enable them to open the hood on their own business and start exploring what their story might be. That’s at WordWritePR.com/StoryCrafting.
I love the free gifts. Number one, I love giving my audience free things that they can hopefully learn from. At the end of the show, I always say information is great. We shared some stories. We shared some ideas. We covered the topic in fairly good detail in a very short period of time. Information is a beautiful thing. What are you going to do with it? The free gift lets them hear this conversation, and then take it and apply it to their real life and their real business. That’s when the magic starts happening.
Thank you so much for being a great guest. You are sharing so much valuable content. They are not only just valuable but usable content that people could start percolating immediately after tuning in to the show. They could start to think, “What is my story? Do I have a story? If I don’t have a story, why? What should my story be? Who am I?” Go back to the beginning where Paul went through those four questions. That is another good place to start as well as reading that chapter in his book. That’s our free gift from this show. Thank you again. I love having you on.
Likewise. Thanks to your audience as well for hanging with us and tuning in.
Thank you, all, for joining me and tuning in to the show. As always, I’m honored that you’re on this journey with me. I hope that my guests and I provide ideas and stories that you could take forward and use in your life, hopefully, to make your business thrive, your career grow, and make life a heck of a lot more interesting as well as easy. That’s what we’re all about here on the show. Thanks, everybody. Thanks, Paul. I’ll see you all in the next episode. Have a good one.
- Free Communication Style Assessment
- Paul Furiga
- Finding Your Capital S Story: Why Your Story Drives Your Brand