A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Storytelling

By April 19, 2018 No Comments

“’We like you Jim. You’ve got guts.’”

“So said the man in the passenger seat holding a six-pack of beer in what must have been a 1972 Plymouth Duster. The driver, his cousin it turned out, was driving on this hot summer night with his shirt wide open, and thankfully was NOT holding a beer. This made me feel slightly better as I dared not betray one of the few pieces of hitch hiker etiquette that I knew, which is that you NEVER fasten your seat belt. But that didn’t change the fact that it was going to be a long, scary night.”

You’re hooked. You want to hear the rest of that story, right?

Twenty years ago, the buzz around marketing was about “branding.” Ten years ago, it was about “value proposition.”

But right now, everywhere, I’m hearing about the power of story in business. To whomever was responsible for bringing this storytelling phenomenon to light, I ask: “Where have you been all my life?”

Stories trump facts. Stories inspire. Stories persuade people to try new things. And the power of your story doesn’t just matter, it defines you. For better or worse, your story shapes people’s opinions of you and your business.

Seriously, think about a business meeting, a cocktail party, or your kids’ most recent athletic event. Whom do you want to hear talking? The person with the regression analysis of Acme Corporation’s last six quarters or the guy in the corner sharing a war story about the horrible round of golf he played with Acme’s CEO three years ago?

This is nothing new. If you think back to presidential elections or to the emergence of great companies or just about any significant phenomenon of the past 50 years, what you remember more than facts and statistics is a good story.

Great story tellers are made, not born,” writes Carmine Gallo, The Storyteller’s Secret, a book I got for Father’s Day.

That is the idea behind 7 Marcom: Every organization has a story and we can help you tell it. We can help you do so through marketing, through speeches and presentations, through newsletters and websites. We can take you back, do a full analysis of a program or a business, and then move you forward again with a story that will propel you to the highest of heights.

Oh, and, by the way, if you want the end of the hitch-hiking story, send me an email:

Jim Cudahy, CAE, is a principal at 7 Marcom near Charlottesville, Va.  Jim has more than 25 years experience as an association executive and marketing and communications professional. He loves a great story.

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