Storytelling connects us with what our audience needs. But, focusing on your products, your services, your company isn't what your audience needs. And, in time,, they shifted toward anticipating prospective clients' questions instead of focusing on themselves. The pitch book we completed used these questions to tell the firm's story. It worked so well that the firm achieved its asset-raising goals within 18 months! So, make sure that business is yours. So, when they pitch their services to ultra-rich Chinese entrepreneurs, they tell stories about multi-generational family businesses that have succeeded in handing down wealth. As I discuss in my book, Let the Story Do the Work, plot strongly influences the emotions your audience feels. People don't just want to buy a product or engage a service; they want to know what the people leading the business are like. We can answer this with a story that is universal enough to make clients consider how similar our experiences are to their own.
When I served as an admissions officer for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, one thing became abundantly clear: Every year, thousands of applicants with stellar GMAT scores, strong career experience and genuine praise from their managers got rejected (and still do).
The problem, as I saw it, was that having strong credentials alone wasn’t enough to carry these candidates to the finish line. In a competitive race, they also needed to demonstrate the “fit.”
Surprisingly, though, during the many feedback sessions I led at Booth, no one asked me exactly how they could demonstrate “fit.” The answer I would have given? Successful applicants weave compelling narratives that demonstrate how their sparkling qualifications, values and goals align with Booth’s.
That rule applies across the board: Whether you’re applying for an elite MBA program or trying to win investors and woo early adopters for your startup, it’s essential to convey that you and your audience are a perfect match. After all, as entrepreneurs, we’re all in a perpetual “competitive admissions” game. Hardly a day goes by that we aren’t trying to persuade others to join us in some effort. That means that we have to prove our “fit” day after day.
Stories create that sense of fit. Even if you have a Ph.D. or MBA from a top-tier university, even if you’ve led the most respected company in your field, even if you’ve done the most extensive market research possible, the story you have to tell is always going to be worth more than strong qualifications alone. Time and time again, the people with the most compelling stories stand out.
Stories, in short, enable you to prove your value, paving the way to accomplish your goals. How do you find those stories? Here’s how.
Storytelling connects us with what our audience needs.
Say you have a business (maybe you already do.) You love the products you’ve designed. You’re proud of the services you’ve worked so hard to offer. But, focusing on your products, your services, your company isn’t what your audience needs. If you want to persuade anyone to act on the information you give them, you have to shift perspectives.
Several years ago, I worked with a real estate investment trust hedge fund to revamp its pitch book. At the time, the fund’s leaders were having trouble raising more assets to manage. As I looked through their existing pitch book, I noticed that every slide was answering the same question: “We are SO awesome; why wouldn’t any client want to invest with…