Thought leaders are storytellers. They get their follower’s attention and then spur them to action with narratives that speak to common goals and shared values. But what stories are most likely to help a leader accomplish these goals?
It’s choosing the right stories to tell that sets the real leaders apart. When I counsel clients on thought leadership, I always tell them to start with the biggest stories they have.
Where business stories are always hiding
It’s impossible to know which stories are the big ones if you haven’t found them all. That’s one of the real benefits of having someone on the inside of your firm who can act as an editor. I wrote about this on LinkedIn some time ago.
A good editor survives by finding great stories for each issue of her publication. She is an expert at finding the untold stories that are most likely to impact her readers, which in most cases are company prospects.
In my experience, the best business stories are always hiding at the intersection of your prospect’s most pressing problems and your team’s expertise. When you can speak authoritatively about issues that are currently causing your prospects significant business pain, you will get their attention.
A good internal editor will keep close tabs on the problems the sales team uncovers during their consultative sales process and on the growing expertise of the company’s subject matter experts.
A formula for finding your biggest stories
There are a million stories hiding at that intersection, but big stories are something else. A big story is that business story that best illuminates the company’s brand promise.
Your brand is never just what you say it is, nor is it what an expensive branding agency has created for you. Your brand is what your prospects see you consistently doing in service to your current customers. Your actions are like shadow puppets that cast your brand image on the minds of your prospects.
Of all of the stories you have found at the intersection of your prospects’ challenges and your company’s expertise, many of them will be very similar in theme. When you look at all of the stories you have found, patterns will emerge that point you in the direction of your biggest stories.
The many stories about prospect challenges quite often point to a smaller number of key problems that your future clients have been unable to overcome on their own. When these larger problems line up well with your firm’s capabilities, you have found your big stories.
I’m finding myself being pulled into more conversations with companies, along with my ContentBeacon partner Brian Rieger, to help firms find the stories hiding in the intersection.
I highly recommend the work. You get to become a sort of Indiana Jones, looking for business story treasure hiding within the business structures your firm has established to serve its customers.
This post first appeared on Scott Schang’s Second Opinion Loan Officer (SOLO) community. Find out more about his work on his website.