Podcast EP 006: How to Tell Your Story

In episode six of our Sales and Marketing podcast, host Randy Hendriks is joined by Tim Arnold, the president of Leaders for Leaders. The two discuss how to tell your startup’s story and stand out from the noise. Learn how to position your company in the eye’s of your prospect and keep them engaged.
Below is a summary of their discussion. Note the time markers so that you can easily jump to that point in the podcast to listen to the entire topic.

:16 Introduction.
Tim Arnold is the president of Leaders for Leaders, which helps leaders and organizations overcome chronic issues.
:50 What is your background? How did you come to work in the StoryBrand space?
Tim began working in the leadership development world. On the side, he followed StoryBrand, the work of Donald Miller, and the concept of leveraging story. One of his clients was holding a StoryBrand event, which Tim volunteered to emcee. He spent two days taking it in and getting to know Donald Miller. Eventually he joined the team, and has been working with them for two and a half years.
Tim helps teach the live workshop in Nashville, and travels to work with clients and deliver their intact team a private workshop.
2:28 What are the building blocks to create a brand for an organization?
Most organizations send out confusing messages because they include way too much information. The human mind is drawn to clarity and away from confusion. As a brand, if you can provide clarity people will gravitate towards you. The very best way to provide clarity is tapping into this powerful thing called Story.
We may lead busy lifestyles but will always carve out time for story, whether that’s listening to a podcast or watching Netflix before bed. It’s the one time of day where people don’t daydream: they’re captivated by the story.
99% of stories work within a consistent framework: there is a really predictable way to tell story. If we can tap into the power of a well-told story when we’re explaining our product or service, people engage, people listen.
4:39 What are some the basic things in storytelling that you can apply to our marketing brain?
The StoryBrand framework has seven building blocks that every story will cover. In every story, a character emerges: in a business-sense, the character is the client. Eventually, the character encounters a problem, and that becomes the hook that makes us want to continue with the story.
With a business, the only reason to exist is to solve a customer’s problems. If a customer doesn’t immediately grasp what problem you’re going to solve, they’ll look somewhere else. Many organizations solve external problems: pain points, so to speak. What is stopping your character, or customer, from getting what they want? The key is to not stop there. Look at the internal problem and ask ‘how does it make you feel’. Tim has found that people will shop for external problems, but will buy to overcome internal problems. If you can position yourself as a brand that gets how they feel, your customer will stick with you.
8:05 Position yourself as the guide, not the hero
Stories have guides: they help the character solve their problem. Most companies position themselves as the character, but we want to be the guide: you’re Yoda, and your customer is Luke Skywalker.
There are two qualities of a strong guide: empathy and authority. We get you, and we’ve done this before.
10:37 What about the company that is terminally-unique?
One thing that many companies mistakenly do is try to tailor their story to fit everybody. The problem is that if we try to speak effectively to everyone, we don’t speak to anyone.
Think about your core customer and speak to them. Try not to confuse others, but if you worry abut accommodating that one fringe character, you lose your core story. Your company might solve lots of problems, but start talking about just the core problem you solve. If you try to explain too much, it becomes confusing and you’ve lost your customer. Once people move forward with you, then you can start getting into everything else.
13:07 What other pitfalls do you see companies fall into that you’re trying to help them with?
“The Curse of Knowledge”. This means that you know your company at the most detailed level, at a 10/10. Research says that for people just engaging with your brand, you have to explain what you do at a 2/10 level. The issue is when we think we’ve done that, we’re usually still at a 7. The curse is that gap, where we think something is clear, but customers have no idea what we’re talking about. We lose the vast majority of customers because of this curse.
Including industry jargon, and too many options to click on the home page is too much work for the customer. If you confuse, you lose, and we are confusing people by giving them way too much information. When we’re done simplifying a story, on average 90% of the copy is gone. Once people start to engage with you, then give them more context and information.
16:13 What some experiences you’ve had working with startup organizations and getting their message out there?
People want to be led somewhere. Tim always started his consulting engagements with the mindset that they’ll do whatever the client wants. The problem with this is that you overdo humility and undermine your confidence: people will stop trusting you as a guide. A lot of times, a customer is looking for someone to tell them what they need.
Instead of offering unlimited customizable options, showing a customer three proven templates will marry your humility with confidence. Once Tim started to do this with his businesses, they started to do a lot better. When people are coming to you to solve your problems, you have to showcase that you know what will help them move forward.
In the Challenger Sale, they indicate that the best salesperson is a balance between a consultative person and a challenger. Someone who can address a problem, and prove the best way to solve it.
20:13 Let’s talk about Leaders for Leaders and the tension between organizations.
Leaders often have a strong vision and great people around the table but can feel stuck. The main reason this happens is that we treat every challenge as if it’s a problem we can fix. The more problems we take on, the more ‘tensions’ we have to manage. If leaders are able to identify these tensions, assess them, then learn how to manage better, they become unstuck.
22:42 Dysfunction in teams often occurs with the lack or fear of trust in organizations. Is this a similar problem?
Tension often feels like a bad word, but we’re talking about the good tension. This happens when people are going after the same goal, but in different ways. It’s about making decisions with the combined input.
24:57 What advice do you have for someone looking to put their best foot forward in the startup sales and marketing world?
Everyday that you put work into your organization, it becomes more complex. But never let that complexity compromise your message clarity. If you confuse, you lose.
Thanks for listening to the VA Partners Startup Sales and Marketing Podcast. Got a question? Looking for sales or marketing support for your B2B Startup? We’d be happy to have a conversation with you. Contact us and we’ll find schedule some time to talk.