How to connect with customers by living out a compelling story
People are no longer interested in just hearing your story; they want to see you living out your story, according to Ty Montague in his book True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business. People are not interested in buying products; they want to take actions that advance their own metastory. Social media and the rise of the networked world have created opportunities for companies to become much more efficient, not by communicating differently, but by actually behaving differently—taking innovative action that tells a clear story and letting the network spread that story.
So, how do you go about “storydoing” rather than just “storytelling”? Red Bull is an example of a company that replaces storytelling (traditional advertising) with storydoing, demonstrating the Red Bull ethos by staging and sponsoring a range of sporting and high-adrenaline events. According to the author, there are four key truths that need to be explored and understood to determine your organisation’s metastory which you then need to live out by storydoing:
- The truth about the participants: what their stories are, and how the organisation’s story interacts with theirs
- The truth about the protagonist: the organisation’s current strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and challenges
- The truth about the stage: the broader economic, cultural, technological and competitive context in which the organisation operates
- The truth about the quest: the aspirational mission of your organisation, apart from making money
Is this book useful for all organisations, or is it just useful for a few that follow a particular philosophy? It seems to me that plenty of organisations get by without telling or living out an interesting or coherent story. Nonetheless, in a world in which sustainable competitive advantage is increasingly elusive, the path advocated by the author seems to offer genuine opportunities.