Ep. 12: How to Leverage Storytelling Archetypes for Your Startup

 
Tacklebox_Podcast_Logo_FINAL.jpg
 

How to Leverage Storytelling Archetypes for Your Startup | Idea to Startup Episode 12 transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

How to Leverage Storytelling Archetypes for Your Startup | Idea to Startup Episode 12 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Brian Scordato:
I live a few blocks from Union Square in New York City. I also just adopted a puppy. I've got a full episode coming out on Ruby. But for the time being, all you need to know about her is that she's a floppy Muppet who looks nothing like any dog you've ever seen. Her feet are too big for her legs and her legs are way too big for her body. And at four and a half months, she's still got no idea how to sync up those legs and feet. I think she looks like one of those big walking robot things from Star Wars. But a weird number of people have said that she reminds them of the dog from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. So maybe we'll go with that for your mind's eye.

Brian Scordato:
One more thing you need to know about young Ruby is that she needs to say hello to literally every person and dog she meets. If someone's sitting on a bench, she'll excitedly lope over to them like she's been searching for that person her entire life. If you don't match that level of excitement, she'll turn and look at me confused and whimper a little bit. Luckily, the whimper doesn't happen very often because Ruby is pretty much irresistible. This means that my weekly walks through Union Square Market, a big farmer's market I get produce at on Wednesdays has gone from a tight 10 minutes to over an hour. I've now got plenty of time to look around.

Brian Scordato:
There are only a handful of things sold at the Union Square Market. Farms from upstate New York and New Jersey bring in veggies and flowers. There are a couple of seafood stands for the crazy New Yorkers who are totally cool, just grabbing a slab of salmon out of a cooler on a sidewalk during a 95 degree day in July. And rounding everything out are a few craft bourbon and moonshine stands, a handful of bakeries and exactly eight stands selling honey. The honey got my attention. The other stands you can kind of gauge the freshness by browsing around for a few minutes, but not honey. Honey is honey. Or so I thought.

Brian Scordato:
When we walked through the other day, of the eight stands selling honey, seven of them had virtually no customers. People maybe stopped and looked for a second. Some would even try the free sample, every stand has free samples. But in general, business for honey in July looked pretty slow. The seven empty stands all had signs out front with things like "we've been honey farmers for 80 years" or "triple strained organic honey" or "alfalfa lite honey with spice" or just the very simple "please try our honey". Then I got to the eighth stand and there is a line 10 people deep. Their sign was very different from every other honey stand. And that's what we're going to talk about today. Not honey. Stories. Stories are what will turn you from the seven stands with nobody in line to the stand with the line down the block.

Brian Scordato:
Stories will get people to listen your podcast, to subscribe to your newsletter, to buy your organic pillows or to agree to a pilot for your SAS tool for SMBs before any other company has taken the plunge. Stories are how we communicate. They're hard wired. Luckily, you don't need to be a brilliant creative to tell a story. There's a simple framework. If your startup doesn't have a story that resonates, that's your fault. There's no excuse. Today, we'll talk about that framework and make sure you're that eighth honey stand.

Brian Scordato:
I'm Brian Scordato and this is the Idea to Startup podcast brought to you by Tacklebox. If you've got a startup idea and a full time job, head to gettacklebox.com.

Brian Scordato:
Back to honey in Union Square. You're probably wondering what'd that sign say? What got people to stop and wait on line when there were seven other honey stands right next door with no lines? I was curious, too. As Ruby and I got closer we saw there was a big sandwich board out front. It had one clear message. Our honey cures your summer allergies

Brian Scordato:
When's the last time you bought something new, totally new. Not a new pair in Nike's, something that you've never had before. Maybe the first time you ever went to yoga class or Soylent or something like that. It's actually a good exercise to go through. We've talked about how rare it is that you add something new to your life. So deconstructing how you made that last decision is really helpful because you as an entrepreneur or anyone trying to sell anything, you're going to need to convince someone to do something new.

Brian Scordato:
Most of the time humans stick to the script. We do what we've always done. I'm trying to avoid cliched phrases, so I'm not going to say that we're creatures of habit. Anyway, that's not even a great description of what we are. It's more that humans are programmed. Once we make the same decision, a few times our brains hardwired in so we don't have to make that decision ever again. It's like hard coding a formula in Excel. All ESV if I remember those horrible corporate days correctly. We're built to make as few decisions as possible so that we can save all our mental energy in case a saber tooth tiger jumps out.

Brian Scordato:
Here's an example. The first warm day in March triggers something inside me. It's time to buy running shoes for the spring and summer. I instinctively go to Nike. I check out the newest model of the Pegasus running shoe, the one I've been buying for 10 years, and I choose the color I like. My decision becomes which color of the newest Pegasus 2019 running shoes should I buy? It isn't, "should I buy Nike Adidas?" And it certainly isn't, "should I run or swim to get exercise this year?". My brain has saved me from all of the subsequent decisions I'd have to make if the first question I asked was "why am I running in the first place?". I've got an internal story that I'm a runner and I run with Nike shoes, specifically the Pegasus model.

Brian Scordato:
Why does this matter? Because as an entrepreneur, if you're selling running shoes and you want me to switch from Nike, you've got to shake me out of that rut. You need to break me out of my programming. You need me to do something new. You need to tell a story that aligns better with the story I'm telling myself then Nike has. For ingrained products like shoes I've bought forever and love, that's gonna be tough. The happier I am with my current story and the more it aligns with how I see myself, the harder it will be to intercept me.

Brian Scordato:
But it's not impossible. I'm often training for big events. When I'm training for a triathlon if you had running shoes and you wanted me to switch, your story might be, "these shoes are better for people doing triathlons, particularly ex-basketball players who have bad ankles". That story is now very much aligned with my version of the reason I stink at triathlons is because of these bad ankles from all my years of basketball. I'd probably try your shoes. The more specific and directly in line with my story, your story is, the higher the likelihood you break my programming. You can see how difficult that type of storytelling would be and how specific you would need to get to break into the story of someone who was pretty content with what they were doing. The Nike story is a story about switching a happy customer. This is tough, as usually the solution they've got is good enough and balls roll downhill, so you're not going to change a ton of minds.

Brian Scordato:
A better option is to tell a story in line with what I call a Diderot purchase. The Diderott effect is the phenomenon where if you buy a nice new coffee table, suddenly your couch and rug look out of place. Maybe it's time to upgrade that TV. Would it kill you to add another Sonos. One purchase waterfalls into a bunch of others. You've created or reinforced a story with that first purchase. I'm the type of person who has this type of couch and now you've got to finish that story. Because the type of person who has that couch, doesn't have that coffee table and the visual nature of both will create tension.

Brian Scordato:
These Diderot purchases are the waterfall purchases that come after an inflection point. This is a great place for entrepreneurs to latch onto a story. As I mentioned at the start, I've got a brand new fluff ball bopping around my apartment. I made that purchase. I knew I was a dog person and I finally made it happen. And now I've got a thousand Diderot purchases to finish out that story. Food, toys, a leash, a collapsible water bottle for the park. Then the trendy squeeze bottle water bowl for the park that replaces my collapsible one after I saw everyone else in the park with the trendy squeeze bottle ones, treats, everything else. I'm in buying mode for all these Diderot purchases and I'm looking for brands that align the type of dog dad I've told myself I am. No fuss but healthy and organic for the pup. Inflection points create behavior change. Attaching your product and your story to an inflection point will make things much easier.

Brian Scordato:
So why did that honey stand have a line? Because 7 stands told the story to their customers of organic honey or honey with spice or just begged them to try their honey despite the fact that it was 95 degrees out and the honey was in a bunch of boiling hot paper cups. Unless your problem was " man, I'm out of organic honey" and you'd gone to the farmer's market looking for that, you aren't going to buy. One stand told this story, "I know most people don't get allergies in the summer, but I know that for the people that do, it's brutal. No one else is trying to help you but I am. I know you've tried a bunch of other things to solve your allergies, and it hasn't worked. Our honey does. Try it." Seven stands talked about them, one stand talked about you. Summer allergies, if they're bad are one of the top problems you need solved, you'll happily be a few minutes late to work to see if honey will help. That's why there's a line.

Brian Scordato:
But Brian, I'm not a storyteller. I'm not creative. Luckily, like most things, storytelling isn't innate. It's teachable, learnable and most importantly, practicable. There are clear common elements that will help you do it. I've got a few resources that are killer for it. The first and maybe my favorite is Steven Press Fields book "Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit". I've read this book easily 15 times. It spends a lot of time on the hero's journey and it is solid gold. We'll talk about the hero's journey in the subsequent podcast, but if you've got the time, I'd read it.

Brian Scordato:
The second is a string of 22 tweets that got published into a blog post by Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats. They're brilliant. I first saw them in 2012 and I've referenced them constantly since. They're in a file save to my desktop. They're also in the show notes. Stories are archetypal. You can do this. I picked a few of my favorites from Emma's list. Here they are and how y'all leverage them to build a brand.

Brian Scordato:
One, you admire a character for trying more than for their successes. Does that honey actually going to relieve your summer allergies? Who knows? The important part of the story is that someone heard you. That Honey Stand is trying to do something other people can't, won't or don't care about. Customers don't get excited about incremental things. No one cares about six razors versus five. Customers get excited when you identify a problem that is unique to them, painful and then you solve it in a way that stays in line with how they think of themselves.

Brian Scordato:
Two. You've got to keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's interesting for you as a writer. You'll be endlessly fascinated and proud of all the parts of your product. You'll want to tell people about all of your features and how hard it was to make them. Unfortunately, the what doesn't really matter ever. The why matters. Honey that cures allergies is always more interesting than honey that people worked really hard to make. This is tough to swallow as an entrepreneur because we're so proud of the work that we put into the product. But think back to the attention pie. Every new message dilutes any other message that you're giving. Stay focused. Stay on the customer.

Brian Scordato:
When you're stuck, make a list of what wouldn't happen next. Lots of times the material that get you unstuck will show up. There are few pieces of advice better than this one. What isn't the story about? Who isn't your product for? Before you've got a brand, no one has any idea who you are. It's way easier to position yourself against something people understand than to build your brand up from nothing. "Don't you dare put honey in this tea" tells way more of a story than "Our tea is organic and high end". What's it for? And what's it definitely not for? Who's it for? And who is it definitely not for? Make those clear so your customers understand the story. Discount the first thing that comes to mind. And the second, third, fourth, fifth. Get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

Brian Scordato:
We talk a lot about ordinary and extraordinary. How would ordinary people tell the story of your brand? Write all of those stories down. Don't use any of them. You need extraordinary inputs to get extraordinary results. What's this look like. If you're making a website for your organic honey, think about how most people would make a website for organic honey these days. They'd go the millennial route. Big picture on the front with your honey, with a white background and a succulent sitting there, a nice wooden spoon hanging out of it. A few lines about the quality and the purpose behind it. You're obsessed with honey, and you always have been. Some amount of your profits go to bees. A call to action to sign up for 15 percent off your first order of honey. Maybe some honey recipes on there. A quote from a satisfied honey customer. Some sort of pun. "Hey honey your home" or "our bees fly in the rain because they wear yellow jackets". Boom. A guy with a beard and tattoo stuck in there somewhere.

Brian Scordato:
Now, don't do any of that. Solve the problem with your site. Tell a story for someone. What's that going to look like? Give your characters opinions. Passive and malleable might seem likable, but it's poison to your audience. You need a point of view. A point of view means making tradeoffs. You can't be for everything. Standing for something usually means standing against something else.

Brian Scordato:
I've got an unpopular opinion. I think Y Combinator, the most prestigious accelerator program for early stage companies on earth, the one that brought us Dropbox and Airbnb and just about every big tech company you can think of. Yeah, I think it's bad for startups in general. I think it's amazing for founders that go through YC. You learn a ton and the network is amazing and all that. And if you have the type of company that can support that kind of growth, there is no better path. But for it to be the thing that most people starting companies strive for is awful. The YC model is terrible for 99 percent of startups and it messes with companies that could've been successful but tried to become billion dollar businesses when there was no billion dollar business in their DNA.

Brian Scordato:
This isn't YC's fault. It's a broader issue. I don't talk about it a lot, but I could and maybe I should. That's a powerful story if you're focused on companies that shouldn't be trying to get into YC because they're not that type of growth machine. But that's scary to me. They're big and influential and strong opinions sometimes feel too risky. They're usually not. It's almost always riskier to not have a stance, despite how scary it can be to take a side on something.

Brian Scordato:
Why must you tell this story? What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off? What's the essence of your story? The most economical telling of it. If you know that you can build from there. Finish this sentence. I'm building an X for y so that they can Z. Z matters. Z is the story. And the more specific Z is to "why", your customer, the better. I'll stop there. I could go on with all of the advice that she gives, and I think you should probably go check it out. Your company's a story. How you tell it will determine how successful you are.

Brian Scordato:
Thanks for listening. As always, if you're a founder with a full time job, apply to Tacklebox at getTacklebox.com. And if you're interested in where to start with branding and storytelling, shoot me an email at Brian@gettacklebox.com and we can kick some stuff around. Have a great week.

Quickly and accurately convert audio to text with Sonix.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your mp3 files to text.

Thousands of researchers and podcasters use Sonix to automatically transcribe their audio files (*.mp3). Easily convert your mp3 file to text or docx to make your media content more accessible to listeners.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2019—it's fast, easy, and affordable.

If you are looking for a great way to convert your mp3 to text, try Sonix today.

Episode Description:

People probably won’t remember your startup, but they’ll remember a story. Today we lean on Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling to help you tell a story that breaks through to your customer and changes behavior.

Show Notes:


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes and here on gettacklebox.com/idea-to-startup.



Brian Scordato