2018 - The Year of the Story

Everyone has a story! Whether you grew up rich and famous or poor and unknown, the story of your life is a unique fingerprint of the fabric of the world on a macro level and your sphere of influence on a daily basis on a micro level.

Over the last several years there has been a massive shift in the way things are marketed. As the individuals strive to become more self-aware and be perceived as "real" the advertisers of the world are trying to catch up.

Before to find something perceived as pure and honest you'd have to look at small-town America, while overpackaged and disconnected was left to Madison Avenue. But now the game is changing.  Stories highlighting the overcoming of struggles, the scars of life and the insuing victories have found their place front and center while the perception of perfection is no longer in vogue.

How then are we to tell our stories as small businesses, places of worship or individuals? Authentic and real was our thing long before Duracell, Folgers and Proctor & Gamble stole our schtick. Let's look at 3 thoughts that might help:

1. Double down on authenticity

Go all in on you being you. Some will love it, some will hate it, all will respect it! I was watching a lady on Facebook Live the other night. The pitch of her voice, her mannerisms, the way the camera kept moving literally drove me insane, but as I looked into the top left-hand corner of her live show the number of viewers just kept climbing. She is a legend on Facebook and there are thousands of people who have turned off everything else vying for their attention to watch her.

No matter who you are or what you're doing the most valuable piece of intellectual property you have is you. No one can be you (unless you have an identical twin and fancy the whole 'Parent Trap' thing). You're never going to out-spend, out-advertise or out-strategize the multi-billion dollar media world, but they don't have you and that is your signature advantage. They can attempt to script authenticity but some things, not even Hollywood can make up.


2. Get crafty


Literally within the last 10 years broadcasting has been decentralized. Where before the select few decided for us all what was entertaining, newsworthy and interesting, today the consumer makes all the decisions. Just this evening we got a newspaper and they just so happened to have a picture of my daughters at a local event. As cool as it was to see their sweet little faces in print I realized that in a matter of an hour more people would see the picture on Facebook and Instagram then would see it in the Frankfort Station over the next week.

If you have a cell phone you have the incredible ability to reach and impact more people then your grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents ever met in their entire lifetime. Use it! We can bemoan how much time people spend staring at their phones or ignoring people they are with while texting people they are not, but the reality is they are doing it and they aren't going to stop anytime soon. Get used to it and make it your advantage, not an excuse why you can't get your message out. 


3. Talk to individuals

I'll be honest, this is a new one for me but my how effective it is! While the power to reach the masses on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and more is incredible, the real power is in the personal interactions. Where once you would email someone even as a business and be almost guaranteed that they would at least read it if not respond positively. Today if you are getting 25% open rates, you're a superstar! Private (or direct) messaging on any of the popular social media platforms is where business is being done and connections are being made.

I have messaged people with far greater exposure and influence than I and offered them my services or influence in exchange for some of theirs and the response rates are dramatic. Think of your favorite "famous person" and something you would want to ask them in person, why not DM them on Instagram? Will they respond? Maybe. Is maybe better than no chance? Definitely! 

Everyone is trying to scale bigger. The problem with scaling bigger is by nature of your growth you become more disconnected from your end user. As a smaller business, this is your advantage. I cannot tell you how many times the words, "we're a small, family-owned business" have been the magic words to let the customer know I am much more in-tune with their needs than Comcast, ComEd or some other monstrous company that has taken its finger off the pulse of its consumer. Person-to-person, face-to-face, connecting and doing business is your decided advantage online and off.

Is this the end of the line for the small business, the small church, the solopreneur? Not even close! 2018 is the Year of the Story and you have one to tell that is raw, authentic, organic and true this is your time to shine. Be yourself, sign up for some social media accounts and get to connecting with individuals around the corner and around the world who would love to meet you, hear your story and share their contacts with you.

Brandon McCurdy