The (REAL) Truth About Business

This last week I was working with a private client, working on her strategy and brand story when we started reminiscing about when I started my first business.  I instantly recalled that the first person I went to was my father-in-law, Kimball.

I remember how, so ready to take on the world,  I valiantly puffed up my chest and announced that I was going to be an entrepreneur!

Kimball was a seasoned entrepreneur – the most successful business owner I personally knew at the time. And my ace in the hole was that I was married to his only daughter.  

So I was certain that he was going to let me in on every secret I needed to be a successful entrepreneur. The goods. The Glengarry Glenross leads. The mysterious secret glowing from the case in Pulp Fiction.

 

THE. SECRET.  

Big money, big money, no whammies!!

 

I was ready.  Here we go I thought…

He looked at me for longer than normal then softly said…

 

“It’s hard.  Business is hard.”

 

And my face dropped. That’s it? Business is hard?  I walked away feeling cheated. What the…?!

Disappointed.

 

If only I really heard what Kimball was saying.

 

Maybe I would have saved a lot of anguish and heartache. Maybe I would have not spent the equivalent of multiple Teslas on wasted marketing and sales efforts. Always in search of the easy “nitro” button.

Because after nearly 10 years as an entrepreneur and another 20+ years as something else that is still undefinable (writer? Hustler? Pitchman? Joke writer? Tell stories so people will give you money dude?) what I learned is that what Kimball shared IS the secret.

 

Business.

Is.

Hard.

 

And the sooner we all accept that reality the sooner we can do something about it.

 

Sales and marketing is hard.

Differentiating yourself from your competition is hard.

Aligning a team to scale is hard.

Knowing who we are at our core and turning that into revenue is hard.

Knowing how to attract customers that are crazy about you and your products / services is hard.

Knowing confidently what to say, how to say it and who to say it to is hard.

Knowing how to talk about yourself is hard.

Knowing what opportunities are right for your business is hard.

Staying fresh, creative, and innovative to beat your competition is hard.

 

And because it’s so hard most entrepreneurs and small business owners learn by trial and error.

They try something, fail, adjust accordingly, try something, fail, adjust… etcetera.

This is how I personally built my business for most of my years as an entrepreneur.

 

And I will tell you, it was hard!  To be blunt it sucked. Bad.

 

Until I found a better way.

 

What if, it was possible to learn from somebody else’s painful (and costly) mistakes?

What if, instead of wasting money and years of doing ineffective brand, sales, and marketing efforts incorrectly, you could invest a small amount of money and build alignment in your business that would create a strong buying desire in your target customers?  

 

A desire that would lead to massive and sustainable growth for your business?

 

What if it would make things, less of a struggle?  Give you and your team laser focus and clarity? Dare I say, it would make many of the current struggles in your business a bit… easier?

 

I’ve hired dozens of coaches and the best story teachers in the world over the years.  I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars learning (through trial and error) what works, and what doesn’t.

I’ve taken my Hollywood storytelling experience and combined it with my sales, marketing, and brand storytelling experience as a successful entrepreneur and delivered this as a battle tested service with private clients.

 

Now, I’m looking at putting together a program that will take you through the last 30+ years of my experience at warp-speed – and I really want to know if this is something you could benefit from.

 

This week, I’ll be opening up a few spots on my calendar to do marketing strategy sessions.

 

These are custom “breakthrough” marketing consults for business owners who want to harness the proven power of storytelling that will deliver team alignment, differentiate you from your competition, create an emotional desire in your prospects, drive  real revenue, and fast results…

I can’t guarantee how much longer any spots will be open, but I can tell you this:

 

If you want the next 2 months to look different than the last 2 months, and you see an opportunity in talking together, book your spot here before they’re gone.

 

I’m not sure if I’ll do this again anytime soon.

Talk soon!

– Marc

The Main Reason Stories Fall Flat … and What You Can Do About It

The Main Reason Stories Fall Flat … and What You Can Do About It

Kevin Rogers is a guy that gets Story. As a stand-up comic turned copywriter, he has worked with some of the most successful marketers in the world and now focuses his efforts on connecting business owners with copywriters through his company Copy Chief.

I had the privilege of being interviewed by Kevin on his Podcast The Truth About Marketing where we exchanged notes about our separate Hollywood journeys, as well as going deep on some story writing and storytelling tactics. We start sharing about my time as a story editor in Hollywood with Disney and Oliver Stone.

While this may sound like a dream job with endless perks, keep in mind the biggest moment up until that time was when they gave me an LL Bean tote bag to carry around the 20 scripts I had to read every week before defending the most production-worthy stories to Oliver Stone’s team.

My biggest takeaway during that time is that the best stories aren’t always the ones that are most technically accurate regarding the grammar and pros, but the stories with the best ideas that lay underneath.

Before my time defending scripts to Oliver Stone, I thought the best movies were identified by how big the explosions were and how dramatic the actual story was. But in actuality, the more specific the story is, the more universal it becomes. When it comes to story, many people are afraid to be specific because they want to relate to as many people as possible. But in effect, this dilutes the story and makes it impactful to no one. As the saying goes, you can’t be everything to everybody.

In that vein, the power of Story comes from the specificity of the story, and that’s where the universality comes from as well.  We cover the topic of specificity and more on this episode. As well as…

  • The ONE thing likely missing from your tale that’s killing your connection with your ideal customer.
  • The single biggest question you absolutely must answer before you even think about writing your story… and it’s got nothing to do with your “hook” or “writing chops.”
  • The “something’s gotta happen” tactic to catapulting your story from “dull n’ dreary” to rolicking tale your audience never forgets —even if you’ve never told a story before.
  • Why I bolted from the Hollywood life despite working with big time players… and the ONE thing I wish I did different. (If you’re feeling “out of place” at your current gig… you’ll want to hear this.)
  • The “locksmith” trick to getting your client so invested in your work they’ll even fight for you when someone wants to change it… even if you barely know your client right now.

Listen to Episode 131: Marc Gutman - Better Storytelling..

https://copychief.com/ep-131-marc-gutman/

Just like the Hollywood story editor with 20 scripts to read through weekly, your story has many filters to get through before grabbing the attention of your customer.  The market is fragmented and it is harder than ever to resonate with a reader across the numerous mediums, platforms, and devices now at our fingertips.

I would love to learn more about your Story and help you make it amazing as well as accomplish the goals that you have in mind.  There is no bad story, but learning to tell it with authenticity and in a way that captivates your audience is where the magic happens.

Let’s set up a time to chat!

Looking to Transform Your Business?

 

The Power of Your Business Story Can Add More Profit to Your Bottom Line Than Any Other Asset...

Download Our
Free Snapstory Guide

Use the same framework Hollywood uses to create BILLIONS in revenue (BE CAUTIONED - You'll never watch movies the same again)

Your Business…The Hero?

Your Business…The Hero?

I just had the chance to get interviewed on the Digital Agency Show Podcast by my good friend Brent Weaver and talk about two of my favorite things – adventure & storytelling.

 

My philosophy has always been to get in the middle of where you want to be and then figure it out.  Through persistence and hustle delivering films on the Disney lot, I eventually found my way to my dream job, working for Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone.

As a story editor, I experienced a crash course on story and I learned an important lesson on authenticity.  A big lesson was learned during the success of the movie American Pie (written by a classmate of mine) and I couldn’t understand how a “cheesy movie” had become the darling of Hollywood when I was striving to write what I thought was powerful and meaningful work.  But what I realized was, the storyteller was writing about what he knew, his life experiences and this created a clear path to success. **So, the movie isn’t “cheesy”, it’s authentic and universal. Much cooler than my so called “important topics”.

If you remember, Oliver Stone became famous for his amazing movie, Platoon. Platoon is based on his own personal experience serving the military in Vietnam.

Translating this to business we are in an incredible time.  People, your customers and prospects can easily find the ideal partner for whatever problem they may have. “Ideal” immediately implies you can do the job, but going deeper than that it means we can find people to work with that are like us. That have the same values. That have a story that supports our needs. No longer do we just have to work with the company that has the biggest ad budget or best name recognition. We are in the age of niche and specialization. We are in the age of personalization.  Our customers and prospects crave this connection. They expect it.  To meet their expectations, we need to have a true and authentic story.  Universally, we all want to work with real people who can be bigger than themselves and together we can create a story that is bigger than the sum of the parts.

I love to serve entrepreneurs who are stuck by showing them the power of story to transform their business. If you’ve ever wanted to understand the art of storytelling and how it affects your business you’ll want to check out this episode.  I give some practical tips on how to get started or improve your story, brand, and your business.

Here’s what we cover in this episode.

  • What it means to “write what you know” and why it’s so important to be specific when describing your life experience.
  • Thoughts on how to create an ongoing relationship with people to get them coming back again and again.
  • Where a story should show up in your business and how you can leverage the power of storytelling in your marketing and sales.
  • The form (not formula) that you can use to put your story together.
  • Tips on connecting with the right audience.
  • Why journaling from your customer’s point of view can be an enlightening exercise.
  • The importance of developing a “move to action” as the first step toward creating your story.

I’d love to learn your story and help you get new clients by telling it.  

Let’s set up a time to chat!

 

Looking to Transform Your Business?

 

The Power of Your Business Story Can Add More Profit to Your Bottom Line Than Any Other Asset...

Download Our
Free Snapstory Guide

Use the same framework Hollywood uses to create BILLIONS in revenue (BE CAUTIONED - You'll never watch movies the same again)

What Do You Stand For? – Write Your Manifesto

What Do You Stand For? – Write Your Manifesto

Manifesto.

Super cool word isn’t it?

 

Sometimes I just like to over enunciate it. Maaaaan-i-feeeees-toe….

 

But beyond it being one of those great words like “pants” or “pickle”, a manifesto is something every company should have.

So, what’s a manifesto?

A manifesto is essentially a statement of beliefs that allows both your internal team, employees, and prospects as well as your external customers (only if you want – more on this later) to understand who you are and what you stand for.

 

And why is it important to let the people who touch your company in anyway know what you believe in? Because this is WHY they do business with you.

This is WHY they stay after work and finish that long project instead of looking for another job. This is WHY they select your product or service over another.

This is WHY they stay after work and finish that long project instead of looking for another job. This is WHY they select your product or service over another.

One of the biggest misconceptions in business is that people want to know what we do and how we do it.  

This is where most business leaders, marketing, and sales people mistakenly spend their efforts.

 

To give you an example I can spend a ton of time if I’m talking to a prospect or a customer telling them that we’re all about story and that we believe that story changes the world and story is going to impact your business and drive results. How do we do it?  Let me tell you, I love talking about it (although no one else really does)!  “Well, we have this framework that we take you through, this seven step process that’s going to change the way you approach the way you communicate… etc.”

 

Don’t get me wrong.  The what and how ARE important. You do need to clearly articulate that to your team and customers.  But a little goes a long way.  Essentially the what and how are what we call “permission to play” attributes. You have to have them just to get in the conversation.

 

Apple and Samsung definitely tell you about their products and what they do… but only so you can check those requirements off your list.  

 

4G LTE, check.

 

Black case, check.

 

Can download any app I need? Check.

So once the “permission to play” boxes are checked off, then it quickly comes down to what each company is about and what YOU believe in that determines your purchasing decision.  I’m an Apple-lover for the record.

When it comes down to it, it is getting harder and harder for companies to differentiate in today’s market.

Look at Apple and Samsung. They are in a feature race and the features they have are really no different. Will either phone handle voice, text, or data any better than the other? No, they both get the job done superbly.

What customers really want to know are  the WHY and WHO.

These are the questions that really matter and these are the questions that we’re always asking at WILDSTORY when we attempt to solve any problem or work with a customer. When we’re trying to sell our services it’s all about WHY and WHO and a manifesto allows you to do just that.

 

I’ve posted our company manifesto here for WILDSTORY and so you can see first hand how this might look and feel.  Immediately, you’ll get an understanding for our company tone and values.

This manifesto is written in our company nomenclature and personality. We say things like “we can’t stand people who poop on dreams!”  And while that is true for us, it may not be the right message for you or your company.  If you’re a company that doesn’t use that language you shouldn’t put that in your manifesto. The only real rule is to be honest about who you are then to scream your true essence from the rooftops.

 

By being true to yourself you will let others know if you’re a good business fit.

 

Right away when you read our manifesto you know what we’re all about, what’s important to us, and if you might like working with us (or not – that’s great too! We’re not for everybody).

 

At the end of the day people crave, whether it’s in your personal relationships or your business relationships, to know what you stand for.  

 

And if you stand for everything people know inherently that you stand for nothing.

If you stand for everything you stand for nothing.

If you stand for everything you have communicated to the world that you’re beige and unclear on who you are as a company. Think about that. Are you attracted to people or companies like that? I’m guessing not.

 

It’s so important to communicate what you stand for to your employees, prospects, and your new hires. Everyone talks about wanting to attract A-talent but outside of evaluating on skill set, this is a great way to know if they are the right fit for your team — not every A-player is.

 

We use this document when we’re going out to the market to both look for new hires and let people know what our company is all about.

 

It’s one of the first pages in our new business proposal because right away we want clients and prospective clients to know who we are and what we stand for and you’re either with us or against us and either one is fine.  We just want to know sooner than later in the relationship.  Many customers are initially afraid to share their manifesto with the outside world. They are worried about offending potential or existing customers. But what they soon find is the exact opposite happens. They begin to develop deeper and stronger relationships.  But if you’re not comfortable sharing your manifesto with the world it’s fine to keep it as an internal document.

 

A little note on this “you’re either with us or against us” idea.  Look, it’s not us against the world. You don’t have to believe what we believe but what we believe is an inherent part of how we do business . Like most people, we want to work with people who have the same values as us and who want to accomplish the similar goals. How to communicate this? Through your manifesto of course.

 

You can also create a personal manifesto. This is an example of one that I have personally for myself.

This is what I personally believe. This is representative of my personal outlook on life, my world-view as it’s called, and it’s a great way to let people know what you stand for.

 

Perhaps more importantly it’s a great way to remind yourself what you stand for.

 

So many times we get lost in confusion about who we are and it really all starts with ourselves. I work with so many visionary entrepreneurs that want to get right into crafting their business story, but I remind them that first we need to develop your story, remember who YOU are, so we can have a proper foundation for the business story.

 

So once you’re very clear on who you are you can then go out into the world and do amazing things and change the world through your business – but first you need to know what’s really really important to you.

 

At WILDSTORY creating a manifesto is one of the core pieces of our intensive course and something that we do often with clients to set the stage to really transform and animate their business. The process of creating a manifesto also ensures that everybody on the team  is in alignment. Your manifesto can also serve as your company vision.

 

At its essence a manifesto is just a public declaration, a written statement of your intentions, what you’re trying to do in the world, your opinions, what you believe most about, what you hold dear, what are your non-negotiables and your company “world-view”.

After reading your manifesto your reader, your customer, your employee should be like either yes, this is me, these guys are for me or no, this  company really isn’t for me and I need to go another way.

A manifesto is designed to elicit emotion and make you feel something and connect you (or repel you) with whomever is reading your manifesto.

 

At WILDSTORY we have a whole worksheet and exercise template to walk you through in the extraction and crafting of your manifesto but if you’d like to try one on your own here are some quick prompts.

 

  1. Start with the sentence “Around here we …
  2. “Here’s what we know for sure…..”
  3. “We believe in…”
  4. “We want to live in a world where….”
  5. “I hope to one day…..”
  6. “We think the world would be better if…”
  7. “We think you should fire us if…”
  8. “We fight for…..”
  9. “What does everything else in your industry get wrong…”
  10. “ What breaks your heart…?”

As an example, let’s look at the first prompt. A brainstorm on that might sound like…. “Around here we laugh… Around here we respect one another no matter what… Around here we drink beer on Fridays… Around here we only take on the most challenging projects ..”

 

What will happen, is once you start riffing on that prompt you will get some great some ideas for your manifesto.Those are just a few examples.  The key here is to brainstorm and really let the ideas flow. We find the BEST IDEAS happen way down the line. When we’re laughing, being silly, or taking a stand against something that makes us angry!  The most important thing? Have fun. Be you.

 

One you’re done send it to your designer and display it for all to see!

 

Feel free to drop me a line at marc@wildstory.com if you have any questions or to share your manifesto!

Looking to Transform Your Business?

 

The Power of Your Business Story Can Add More Profit to Your Bottom Line Than Any Other Asset...

Download Our
Free Snapstory Guide

Use the same framework Hollywood uses to create BILLIONS in revenue (BE CAUTIONED - You'll never watch movies the same again)

EO Colorado Host Artist Aaron Draplin [VIDEO]

One of the single greatest decisions I’ve made as an entrepreneur is joining the Colorado Chapter of The Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO). I could probably write a book about all the value I get but in short, it’s a group of like minded entrepreneurs trying to get better in every way: business, family, personal. I’ve been honored to serve as co-learning chair for the past two years. My job is to simply find one of a kind learning and social experiences for our membership.  This past October 2016 we had the pleasure of hosting world famous graphic designer Aaron Draplin from the Draplin Design Co.

In addition to hosting, my very good friends at The Public Works also shot and edited this great video highlighting our two day experience with Aaron. We hosted an evening keynote on Friday and then spend the next Saturday designing and building cool stuff in the shop at The Public Works. Not to overuse this phrase, but a weekend I’ll never forget and one that I truly treasure.

Wright Awards 2016 – Celebrating the outdoors, Colorado, and Commerce

Wright Awards 2016 – Celebrating the outdoors, Colorado, and Commerce

“How did I get here?”

Last night I was sitting in a row of chairs at the Space Gallery in Denver, looking at the people, companies, personalities, and stories around me. Sometimes I just feel so lucky, so fortunate, so grateful that I’m sitting where I’m sitting.

I’m talking about the 2016 Wright Awards put on by Chuck Sullivan and his team at Something Independent.

When talking to Chuck he says that Something Independent is all about celebrating the intersection between lifestyle and commerce as it pertains to companies in Colorado.  And the Wright is simply an amplified extension of that celebration.  And it is so Colorado.

What does that even mean? So Colorado.  Distinguished guest and speaker, Luis Benitez, head of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (and celebrated climber) found a great way to say it.

Colorado is all about crazy.  Crazy ideas. A spirit that feeds off being told “you can’t do that”, “you shouldn’t do that”, “You’re crazy to do that.”  That’s when Coloradan’s shine. That’s where the magic happens.

The program to The Wright says: “The Wright is about a mindset.  A belief that hard work combined with meaningful relationships establishes a foundation from which to forge ahead. A mindset that does not have to wither as a company scales, but instead has the power to unite across both time and place. Nowhere is this mindset better fostered than in the adventure found outdoors.  So is in the spirit of the Rocky Mountains that we proudly bring you The Wright.”

It was incredible to experience12 contenders, from all over Colorado and representing a wide array of industries from: Zipline design, farming, backcountry safety gear, camping, clothing, manufacturing, cycling, standup paddling music, iceclimbing, and development.

The Wright 2016 Program -  Judges & Contenders

The Wright 2016 Program – Judges & Contenders

Each contender puts on a 90 second video before the audience. A curated judging panel – of industry insiders, alumni, and journalists – grades the contender videos on 5 categories. My favorite being storytelling. How well did you tell your story? The level of creativity and connection in each of these videos was nothing short of fantastic. Each video made an emotional connection and proved why each of the contenders made it to the final 12. The event, emcee’d by the every enthusiastic Dave Bacon – this year with a cane – is an interactive affair and the contestants find out with the judges and everyone else the final 3.

All videos can be seen HERE.

The Wright - Emcee Dave Bacon

The Wright – Emcee Dave Bacon

Everyone was on the edge of their seats as the three finalists, Bonsai Design (Grand Junction), Ouray Ice Park (Ouray), and South Main (Buena Vista) were announced. The representatives of each company were then called to the stage and grilled (questioned) by the panel of judges.  Governor John W. Hickenlooper stopped by and asked the first question while enjoying a cold beer. The judges deliberate on the spot and a winner is chosen based on their live answers. In the end, Buena Vista’s South Main was named the winner but as all the contenders said over and over again all 12 contenders are winners for making it this far.

Colorado Gov. Hinkenlooper on left, esteemed Judge Mike Arzt on right

Colorado Gov. Hinkenlooper on left, esteemed Judge Mike Arzt to his right

The Wright is unlike any other award and award night I’ve experienced. Chuck Sullivan described how The Wright is about re-framing what we believe. Looking at things through a different lens.  This night and award certainly embodies that.

Hopefully someday we’ll be up there, competing for an iron hammer. I can think of any better dream come true.

Congratulations to all the 2016 contenders and South Main for taking him the anvil.  A special thank you to EO Colorado for being one of the sponsors of the night (and my sponsor for my ticket!)

Until next year. Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts about The Wright or the outdoor industry in Colorado.