Since the very beginning of the company, CISCO Systems has presented such a compelling vision and told their story in such a straight forward way, it is hard to think of a better example. "We network networks" is how they go about creating a vision for marketing and selling their products. That straight forward phrase has served them very well over the years.
While CISCO has all but mastered the true meaning of that phrase, it has acted as a catalyst in all that they do in technology. It conveys their core competency. It tells the customer what the company markets and sells.
More and more emphasis is being put on companies telling their story and casting a vision for what they are really trying to do in the marketplace, according to Professor Scott Galloway of the NYU Stern School of Business.
His contention, in a recent article for Entrepreneur magazine is as follows: “Traditionally, you raised money from friends and family, bootstrapped, lost money for one to three years and then you became profitable and got acquired or went public. That was the cadence of entrepreneurship.”
It is different now. Many sizable firms, Amazon included, have been in existence for a long time and have still not made much money. Galloway goes on to say “Now the path looks like this: Raise as much capital as cheaply as possible, and quickly establish a leadership position. There is a race to identify yourself as the leader in every sector. You don’t brag about profits.”
In one HUGE dynamic shift, you no longer talk about your delivery process, operations, finance or sales. According to Galloway, you tell stories. As he puts so succinctly, “It’s painting a really compelling vision for markets, then making progress against it every day.” He goes on to say every leader must be an excellent communicator and storyteller.
Take a look at Pierre Omidyar. He was a computer programmer in 1995. But his story was compelling enough. All he did was start auctioning items from a website that he had developed. As the volume of items and bids began to increase significantly, Omidyar started hiring people and began charging fees for the services he rendered. Currently, Forbes estimates his net worth at $11.2 Billion. As the founder of Auction Web, now known as eBay, Pierre has a great story to tell.
Here are a few more examples that might help you in developing your own story:
Howard Schultz loved coffee. As an employee of a Seattle, Washington coffee roaster, Howard wanted something more out of life than just selling coffee. On a trip to Italy, he was captivated about the concept of developing high-end coffee shops like the espresso cafes that were all over Italy. Even though his current employer was not interested in coffee shops, they helped Howard develop the concept, helped him finance it and even sold the name of their brand to him. That is the story of Starbucks.
John and Don had been friends since the 70s. They started several businesses over the years, even a beer distributorship among them. But it wasn’t until seeing the success of Snapple that they hit upon the idea of developing a slight variation on the theme of soft drinks. John Ferolito and Don Vultaggio developed AriZona Green Tea. In part because of their storybook rise to prominence, AriZona teas are one of, if not the largest makers and distributors of those type drinks in the world. Not a bad story for two friends from Brooklyn who started selling product out of their Volkswagen bus.
Most everyone has heard the story about Duck Dynasty. Phil Robertson, who loved duck hunting, invented the Duck Commander and eventually ended up with a television show and merchandising conglomerate that was headed up by his son Willy.
It is not just about the 4Ps of marketing anymore (product, price, place, and promotion). It is about the vision for the company. It is about painting the picture of the market and marketplace. Telling the story of your company can be a part of that program. In one edition of the comic strip Peanuts, by cartoonist Charles Schulz, Lucy leaned over and told Charlie Brown “After a while, you learn what sells.” If you would like to grow your business consider incorporating a compelling story that will help sell your business. Make it a meaningful and straight forward message.
Dan Arens is an Indiana-based business growth advisor.