Why You Should Stop Telling Your Own Story


Everyone has a story. We talk about our college days, the first time we met our significant other, and the birth of our children. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we particularly love to tell our origin stories. We use these narratives to describe what we do, why we do it, and what makes us the best.

But a story is only as good as its teller. Too little information and a narrative is incomplete and ineffective. Too much information and the important plot points get lost in the noise, rendering that story as equally ineffective. The key to any successful narrative is understanding which details matter the most to your clients and your potential clients. After all, you have a very short amount of time to make a great first impression. This is true when you’re starting a business, crafting a new campaign, or simply preparing new marketing materials.

As important as it is to find the right details, you might be surprised to find that trusting your story to other people is often an ideal way to connect with your market.

So how can involving your community add depth and new facets to your story?

Digital Fridge recently worked with the Washington County Economic Development Council, filming material to market the Shop Local campaign. As you might expect, this campaign highlights the importance of shopping and dining locally. So what better way to market this community-based campaign than by involving the community it serves?

By using your own community to craft your story, your narrative evolves into something a bit more meaningful than a simple marketing campaign.

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Add layers to your narrative.

When we construct a story, we put the emphasis on points we consider the most important. But by doing so, it’s easy to underestimate the significance of other details. We may also overestimate the importance of the details we do include.

Take a minute to write down your company’s three greatest strengths. Now ask a few of your clients to write down what they consider to be your company’s three greatest strengths. Your lists will probably look similar. However, I guarantee you’ll find some interesting differences. Your community views you and your company from a different, but equally important perspective. Use this to your advantage.

By involving the community in the Shop Local narrative, we uncovered emotions and sentiments that may have otherwise been overlooked. Yes, shopping locally is economically advantageous. Beyond this benefit, we also learned how much local business owners love Johnson City, TN. We learned how much they love their clients. And we learned why the Shop Local campaign is as beautiful as it is important.

Tell your story, not your data.

Telling your company’s story is much like writing a book report. You read a book, you research that book, and then you condense all this knowledge into a very short paper or presentation. Let’s put emphasis on the word ‘condense’. When you have intimate knowledge of your business, it can be difficult to separate the meat of the story from the bones. Unfortunately, this is exactly what you have to do everyday.

For the Shop Local campaign, we could have highlighted the data, the timeline, and the general statistics. But a stronger, more meaningful message could be sent by having local business owners talk about what they love: their community.

The narrative of the Shop Local campaign became the community’s story. This approach adds warmth and meaning, which then endears members of the community to local business owners.

More Behind the ScenesGet buy-in from your community.

Something most marketing directors know is that a naturally-spreading campaign is a great way to reach new markets and new audiences. Creating a viral video or article is on the top of everyone’s list nowadays and for good reason. But how do you do it? Well, involving your clients is an ideal way to create a product or a campaign that people want to share.

Many community members and clients were included in our material for the Economic Development Council. These people felt proud of their community and they were able to share this pride on screen. And, more importantly, they were able to share their slice of the story. This simple buy-in led many of the participants to share the video with their own networks, resulting in a reach further than a company-centric marketing campaign.

So how will you tell your story?

Find ways to include your community. Let them become part of your story and don’t be afraid to become part of theirs. It’s in this way we build meaningful, long-lasting relationships. And it’s in this way we build bridges to new opportunities. The video below shows the end result.