Sometimes you just need people to tell you who you are and give you permission to be it.
In Factor 75’s case, the start of a great brand relationship with their own story involved a Golden Ticket. Through our work together, we uncovered a quirky, goofball founding team whose most authentic engagement with their customers would take the form of a Willy Wonka themed party – chocolate fountain included.
Everyone has a story. In order for it to be interesting, it must change the protagonist. The story of your organization is the story of you – it’s okay (even necessary!) to intertwine the two.
For Factor 75, this Willy Wonka party was the culmination of 6 months of storytelling work with Swell Story. Once they authored their story, we taught them how to apply it to all aspects of their business.
Below, we offer some instructions to move beyond the prologue and get to the heart of your story – so you can harness its energy and drive your own business results.
1) Find your voice
The best stories revolve around the deep, unconscious truth of the founders of the business. From Apple to Avon, I challenge you to find a memorable brand where this isn’t the case. One of our favorite ways to dig for these truths is with an in-depth psychographic profile – we create these for each of an organization’s founders in order to distill down the essential truths of the team. From there, what emerges is a clear story – once it’s articulated and rehearsed by the founders, it instantly becomes their own.
Story: Like any new venture, Factor 75, a healthy meal delivery start-up, had a lot of voices which weren’t their own. Through creating their psychographic profiles, we identified the basis of their nearly two decade long friendship – a goofy, self-effacing camaraderie as well as a scientific, community-oriented personality.
Impact: At the end of three months, the founders were able to clearly articulate their story, experienced an increased sense of alignment and enjoyment at work, and had attained additional focus & strategic clarity in light of their story for business decisions from PR to hiring to events.
2) Run your experiments
All creative processes need structure. Telling your story is no different.
Your story isn’t just for you - it needs an audience. And if you’ve just discovered your story, you’re going to want to tell it to everyone. The challenge is: not everyone wants to hear your story (yet). You need the right audience - and the right reaction - to know you are telling the right story.
Story: Over the course of a month, we performed a series of tests across social media channels, Google AdWords, and in-person interviews, and brought the data back to the Factor 75 team to determine which audience responded best to the story based on their strategic goal of customer growth. We emphasized to the F75 team that it’s okay to speak to one person. Who you speak to does not limit you in terms of customers – it’s just who your voice resonates with the most. In this case, Factor 75 was looking for those who had a strong positive emotional response to their experience with the service, as these were the early evangelists who would promote F75 and help them grow their business.
Impact: Between a better understanding of their story and their data-driven results from story testing, the Factor 75 team had more confidence in sharing their new strategic shift in product with investors and team members.
3) Live your story
Owning and understanding your story is a huge accomplishment for any organization, big or small. There are months of uncertainty, painfulness of searching for the right word or phrase, and getting comfortable with a new direction forward. Once you have settled on your story, you unlock a new power: the ability to use your story to fuel everything you do and achieve your goals.
Story: Factor 75 lived their story in the way only they could - they threw a Willy Wonka golden ticket party for their one year anniversary. Several lucky Factor 75 customers received a golden ticket in their meal, which provided access to a wonderland of games, poker, libations, and, of course, a chocolate fountain. Judge for yourself how much fun they had.
Impact: First and foremost, the founders and team had a concrete milestone to celebrate their storytelling accomplishment. They could also share the event and their new story with their customers, increasing loyalty and retention as well as generating user content from the Golden Ticket party. Additionally, there was a small increase in sales during the promotion due to the social buzz around the event.
4) Change your conversation
Once you know your story inside and out, it’s time to start to change the conversation and have other people carry your story. Because there is no better marketing than other people telling your story - that’s a movement. Everything else is just noise.
Story: Along with Factor 75’s Director of Marketing, Caitlin, and their talented copywriter, Emily, we worked to revamp Factor 75’s email system to more adeptly reflect their story. We added bits of levity and inside jokes, themed around Chicago, to reflect the goofy personalities of the founding team.
Impact: By providing current and potential customers with the information they needed to move forward, we increased the sales conversion rate by 30%.
5) Create your future
Stories are not only informative but also inspirational. They provide us with direction and insight into our future.
Story: As Factor 75 existed to help their customers thrive – to live life to its fullest and most enjoyable state – they realized they needed their service to do the same. They switched from an individual one-off ordering system to a subscription meal plan, which removed the hassle of remembering to order by certain times. They made the lives of their customers simpler and more enjoyable with one quick step.
Impact: The shift in Factor 75’s business model from individual dishes to a subscription meal plan allowed the team more touch points with their customers - and thus more opportunities to learn how it would impact both their service and their bottom line. The team instituted an hour a week of calls to their customers to let them personally know about their new meal plan and ask if they would stay with them. In the course of a month, they had loyal customers for life and had reached half of their quarterly sales goal.
When you tell stories, you become both part of and apart from them in a wonderful way. By shifting between these different perspectives, you can truly live your story and let it change you in an organic, natural way that drives meaningful business results and empowers authentic growth.
- Founder’s Story