41Tell How You'll Change the World

I'm tempted to insert something here about how stories have a remarkable capacity to stir our souls, to connect us, to shape a kind of shared experience. But because you are human, you know that already, right?

Increasingly, the best marketing has also grokked that, and so in the past few years we've seen an abundance of inspired brand storytelling.

But we've also seen some terrible efforts. Because coming up with your bigger story is (relatively) easy, yet telling a true story in an interesting way “turns out to be about as easy and pleasurable as bathing a cat,” says the writer Anne Lamott. (Anne wrote that line in her important book on writing, Bird by Bird.)1

So how do you pull compelling stories out of your own organization? How do you tell your own brand story in an interesting way that relates to your customer? Start by grokking a few characteristics of a compelling story:

  1. It's true. Make truth the cornerstone of anything you create. It should feature real people, real situations, genuine emotions, and facts. As much as possible, it should show, not tell. It should explain—in terms people can relate to—how it adds value to the lives of your customers.
  2. It's human. Even if you are a company that sells to other companies, focus on how your products or services touch the lives of actual people. By the way, when you are writing about people, this is a good rule: be specific enough to be believable, and universal enough to be relevant. (That's ...

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