It’s time to be charming and get your CHARM on! There is a definite process for working with stories in business. This is called the CHARM cycle and it stands for Collecting, Honing, Applying, Renewing, and Mining your stories.
Start with Collecting stories. Once you have your stories, it’s time to Hone them so they are compelling and generate results. Then everyone needs to figure out how and when to Apply stories in different situations to keep their storytelling alive. Renewing stories is important after you’ve told the same stories over and over. They need to be refreshed and renewed. Mining stories is when you dig into your repertoire of stories for hidden gold to use in branding, and developing new products or services.
Maybe you already have a few stories and need to Hone them. Or you’ve got some pretty good stories that are working for you but you haven’t Mined them yet. Pay attention to where you are in the CHARM cycle and make sure you hit all stages for maximum leverage with your storytelling.
Determine the end goal first. Do you want to use stories in marketing? Sales? To create a brand? In product/service descriptions? On your website or About page? In networking to spark referrals? To highlight customers? Other? Figuring this out will help you know which stories to collect.
1. Collect Your Core Stories Find your Origin story – the story of how and why you got started; People + Results stories – the amazing things people were able to accomplish; your Future story
- how you and your customers are creating a better world; and your “Why I…” stories – about your commitment to your business, why you get up every morning, what continues to move you about your company). Find and craft these. Keep them in your hip pocket so you can tell them at any time.
a. Use Story Prompts To Harvest Your Stories. Always use phrases like, “Tell me about a time when…” Using story prompts guarantees you’ll hear a story. Asking for descriptions or opinions gets you just that.
b. Use Appreciative Listening. After listening to the story, ask a few reflective questions (“What did that experience mean to you?”) to understand the story’s deeper meaning. Save information questions (“What year was that?”) for last. Then share all the positive things you appreciated about the story you heard. Park any advice, critical feedback, or negative input at the door. This will make you friends for life.
c. Build A Story Vault To Capture Stories. I like to use Evernote for easy capture and retrieval. You can record your stories, write your stories, web clip stories, or take photos of stories and save them all to an Evernote notebook. Tag the stories with key words to help you search for stories. Or set up a similar file structure on your computer. The point is to create a system for capturing and retrieving stories quickly and easily.
2. Hone Your Stories Position the main character as the hero. Focus on how the main person in the story did something extraordinary, learned a valuable lesson, saved the day, made a difference in their world. Make sure you share how this story is meaningful to you or your organization.
3. Apply Your Stories. Determine how to apply and disseminate stories or story pro Websites? Social media? Brochures and promotional material? Presentations? Meetings? Articles and blog posts? Books? Napkins? Menus? What forms do you want to share stories in (oral, written, audio, video, etc.)?
A story shared face-‐to-‐face will be different than the same story shared on Facebook (it will be shorter), in a blog post (longer), or on video (less details, more visuals).
4. Renew your Stories. Renew your stories and keep them alive by walking the talk in the organization. Renew your stories and keep them alive by walking the talk in the organization. Be willing to learn from your stories, change them up, and keep them fresh.
a. Share A Story, Listen To Stories In Return. Use the natural and organic dynamics of story sharing to build relationships, boost understanding, gather information, enhance meaning-making, guide better decision making, and increase engagement
b. Have Fun. Be Willing To Be Moved. Keep being curious and asking for more store
5. Mine Your Stories. Dig into them to discover need states, archetypes, emotional states, metaphors, analogies, etc. You will find great material to use for branding and graphic designs, marketing campaigns, creating customer persona, and finding customer’s hidden needs and drivers. Focus on the visual images imbedded in the stories, the motivations of people in the stories, and the problems/desires they present to you. You’ve got a gold mine of treasures ready to be excavated and used.
For more how-‐to information on any of this material, check out Karen’s national bestselling book Business Storytelling For Dummies at Amazon.com. For specific worksheets, templates, and guides walking you through the CHARM process, purchase Karen’s 70 page DIY Story Kit from her website www.juststoryit.com