Sell Yourself and Your Business with a Story
A story that can sell yourself and your business is the most effective marketing strategy
Never underestimate what a good story can do for your marketing strategy. It allows you to communicate your brand and explain how you serve others. Here’s an example of how one executive built his business with a story.
Business Case Study: Sell yourself – To the Arctic and Back
Mike Pierce’s flagship program, Leading at 90 Below Zero, connects principles of Antarctic expedition history and his own adventures there to the real world of finding, engaging, and keeping great people in today’s business world.
In January 2006, he became one of nine people to run a marathon (26.2 miles) on the Antarctic continent. About a year later, he returned to the Antarctic to become the first American to complete the Antarctica Ultramarathon, a grueling 100 kilometers or 62.1 miles. The attraction to run in Antarctica had very little to do with sports or cold weather; rather, it was an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his polar heroes who were the first to have conquered Antarctica, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.
Since then, he has completed many other winter marathons in the coldest and harshest climates on earth.
After graduating from college, he soon went to work in sales. His first real struggle in sales was when he got into the insurance business. He never loved it. He liked it, he tolerated it, he knew it could make money, and it put a roof over his head for a few years doing it, but he never loved it.
Because in those days, at that insurance company, you got a license and then the company put you on the street and said “good luck.” They wanted you to sink or swim. At the outset, he sank. His first day in the business he was taken into an interior office with no windows, and it was about the size of a large closet. His manager assigned him one of the two desks in the room and said, “Here’s your desk; good luck. Come and see us when you have a check and a contract. And by the way, you owe us $52, because we already turned your phone on.”
What he soon discovered is that the biggest and most expensive problem a company has with respect to people isn’t hiring them, it’s actually keeping them. Which means making sure that their people are consistently and fully engaged in what they do every day.
During a business trip to Bakersfield, California in 2001, he happened upon a book in a Barnes & Noble called Shackleton’s Way. He fascinated by Ernest Shackleton’s heroic tale of leading a team of twenty-seven men to be the first to cross the entire Antarctic continent on foot, some 1,800 miles. He read stories of other heroic polar expeditions and knew that the lessons in the stories of these polar adventures were a great metaphor to teach principles of leadership and success.
His thinking was that Antarctic exploration was the metaphor that would help him make the points he wanted to make. So, he threw his company’s PowerPoint in the trash. He put in all the pictures from the Shackleton story. The training course he wrote for his company was a huge hit. That’s when he started longing to do this for a thousand companies, not just one.
During his talks to sales leaders and sales reps about what they can learn from the Antarctic explorations, he shared a number of lessons that leaders can use to help them find, engage, and keep the best-performing people. That is how he went from a frustrated insurance agent to an author and speaker who travels internationally to inspire corporate leaders and sales representatives. His message is simple:
“Everybody has an Antarctica to conquer. Keep conquering.”
What’s your story? Now go tell it!
Get the Word Out on your business to sell yourself
Get it out there— everyone you speak to should be clear on what you do best and what opportunities you are looking for. With the current business and talent environment, it is rare for anyone to not come across an open opportunity or position here and there. Companies and recruiters are looking for talent referrals more than ever. Make sure everyone you come across knows what you are looking for and when to keep you in mind. You are more likely to find your next opportunity through someone you know than through a posting.
Send e-mails; write blogs; post updates on what you are up to. It often takes three to five posts or e-mails for the receiver to not only read it but also remember what you said. Use social media posts to stay current, relevant, and authentic with your network. For example, “Great client meeting today—young CEO with great insights needs me to help determine next growth strategy for his company.” No need to disclose any details or the company/CEO’s name. Your network will enjoy seeing these. They are a lot more memorable than a single e-mail announcement.