I recently met with a small business owner here in Indianapolis. Terry is the Owner of Spotts Garden Service. If I mentioned lawn care or called them landscapers, the hair on the back of Terry’s neck would stand on end. They are gardeners; Master Gardeners. There’s an important distinction. Terry and his employees design, build and care for gardens.
The Company Brand
Like many companies, especially in trades industries, Spotts Garden Service has an easily identifiable brand. They even have branded trucks and shirts and hats and jackets. There’s a uniform with the brand messaging on it. They are out in the field, caring for people’s property while carrying the banner of the brand. In those types of situations, everyone from Owner to newest employee becomes a brand ambassador.
Like every organization, Spotts has experienced some turn over. In the past six months, two of his employees have moved on to other opportunities. That’s a normal cycle in the life a business. Terry’s concern is interesting.
He’s working hard to make sure that every last piece of uniform, every piece of equipment, every branded item is returned to the company. To some, that may seem petty, (do you really need to get all those dirty t-shirts back?) but Terry’s point is a good one.
In every storytelling presentation I give, I cover two ideas:
- Everyone, every business, every organization has a story. What’s you story and who’s telling it?
- Your story is told not just through what’s written on your website or what you say at a networking event; it’s everything … your social media posts, how you drive in your branded, company car, the experience of working with you, even what someone says or how they act when they’re wearing the company uniform.
Terry is on a mission to chase all these items down because he’s trying to preserve his brand story.
I like to say that every organization has three major storytelling channels.
- You have an external channel.
- You have a customer service channel.
- You have an internal channel.
Let me explain:
You’re familiar with this channel. It’s probably the first one that comes to mind. It’s your business development, marketing, sales and advertising. It’s everything that’s public facing.
Customer Service Channel
This one’s pretty easy to figure out too. It’s all your communications with your existing customers. Whether they have a problem or a question, or they simply want to re-order, this is the channel where your story is told.
Internal Storytelling Channel
The third, and often overlooked channel is the internal storytelling channel. This is how you communicate with everyone within your organization. The audience may be your employees. If you’re a not-for-profit, it may be where you communicate with your board or with volunteers. It may even be how you connect with suppliers and vendors.
Let’s take a tangent from the idea of the different storytelling channels and consider how two of those channels intersect.
In Terry’s case, his employees are telling the Spotts Garden Service story. How they act, what they say to customers, how they wear the company brand tells a story. For many employers, when they sit down and think about it, that’s a pretty frightening prospect.
Are You Training Your Employees To Tell Your Story?
If you’re in that boat, think about the internal storytelling channel for a minute. What story are you communicating to your employees? Are you training them to tell the brand story you want to be told?
Not every company has uniforms and branded vehicles. I’m well aware that there are some organizations that don’t expect their employees to tell their brand story. Some actually forbid it. I’m here to tell you that point of view falls somewhere in the spectrum between unrealistic to naive.
Invest In Your Brand's Story
Remember, your brand’s story is told through conversation, through actions and through the experience of working with you (and your employees). Are you training your employees to tell the brand story you want to be told?
You need to invest as much on your internal storytelling as you do on your external storytelling.
Everyone in your organization needs to understand their role in your brand storytelling … everyone, from your janitor to your CEO.
Do you have outside sales people that will play in the charity golf outing next week? Have you trained them to tell the brand story you want to be told?
Do you have middle managers that attended are members of networking groups? Have you trained them to tell the brand story you want to be told?
Every organization is different. Everyone’s role is different, but remember, someone is telling your story. The question is, who’s telling it and is it the story you want to be told?
For more on the power of great brand storytelling, check out Why Storytelling Sells. It's our gift to you.
If you'd like to talk about how to train your employees to tell your brand story, click this link to schedule a free call.