What will help you raise your business to new heights
18.03.2015 13028

What will help you raise your business to new heights

Blake Maikoski created his shoe company TOMS virtually from scratch. The company is famous not only for its shoes, but also for the fact that for each pair sold it gives a pair to children for free. At the same time, TOMS is a profitable company. In his book, Blake talks about the history of creating a successful brand and a true business philosophy.


B. Maykoski. “Leave your mark. How to build a company that changes the world for the better. " Mann, Ivanov and Ferber Publishing House, Moscow, 2012

The power of stories

Stories are the simplest and purest form of communication. The most powerful values ​​and ideas of our civilization awakening us are embedded in stories ranging from Homer, whose epic poems became unifying for the national spirit of the ancient Greeks, and Virgil, whose poems served the same for the Romans. Such are the parables of Jesus told to his disciples. Apparently, we are genetically predisposed to transfer our ideas in the form of stories, enjoy them and learn from them. According to a recognized storyteller and writer Kendall Haven, author of Super Simple Storytelling: “Human thinking perceives stories and their architecture as the main roadmap for understanding, comprehending, assimilating and planning life - along with countless examples of experiences and descriptions that we encounter on his way".

Intelligent, future-oriented companies use this centuries-old impulse in modern ways, telling stories that people can discuss on Facebook and even watch on YouTube. As soon as you manage to create a memorable story about yourself, about your mission, your success ceases to depend directly on your experience, number of academic degrees and even your knowledge. A good story blurs boundaries, breaks down barriers, and opens doors. This is the key not only to starting a business, but also to your personality, to clarifying your priorities. History evokes emotions, and thanks to emotions, bonds are strengthened. That's why the way that companies tell customers about themselves is changing. They simply can no longer rely on straightforward advertising campaigns like those captured on the Mad Men television series Mad Men.

Avalanche of information

Media is becoming more fragmented, and consumer attention is being scattered. People stopped listening to the same radio station or watching one television channel from week to week. They follow a carefully filtered Twitter feed, create their own blogs, comment on other people's posts, switch from one of five hundred television channels to another, watch streaming video on their laptops using the Hulu service, click on YouTube links, read e-books and take notes on iPad . Due to the fact that a lot of opinions, a lot of positive and negative reviews about any product are opened with the click of a button, making a purchase decision is not simpler, but much more difficult. And until the information attracts you emotionally, most of it is likely to be forgotten.

Business consultant Annette Simmons explains it this way: “Facts remain neutral as long as people do not supplement their own semantic load. And they make decisions based on what these facts mean to them personally, and not on the facts themselves. Interpretation depends on the current history of a person ... bare facts will convince few. People do not need only new facts - they need a new story. ”

Even an avalanche of facts is weaker in effect than a simple, well-told story — and this is supported by scientific evidence. In 2009, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University compared how a person’s behavior changes depending on whether they share abstract facts or a specific story with him. The team offered students five dollars for a review of various gadgets. At the same time, students did not know that the essence of the matter was not in the articles. They studied their behavior after they were paid for the work done. After writing an article, each student received five one-dollar bills and a letter aleatherg him to donate part of his earnings to the famous international fund Save the Children. Two versions of the letter were compiled. One entirely consisted of facts about food shortages in Malawi and statistics showing the relationship between rare rains and chronic crop failures. In the second, a story was told about a desperately poor seven-year-old Malawian girl named Rokia. Students who received a letter with statistics donated an average of 1,14 dollars. Students who read the story of Rocky donated 2,38 dollars. Researchers then gave the third group of students both letters. This group donated an average of one dollar less than those who read only the story of Rocky. The facts are important, but the story is very important. Sometimes misrepresented facts can blur the impression of a story told and weaken its impact.

The people who share the TOMS story are not just our customers, they are our support group. TOMS customers like to say that they support our mission, and not just chat about the fact that they bought the shoes of some ordinary company. They support the product and history in a way that an ordinary customer will never do. The support group will always replay any regular customer in all respects.

However, the search for supporters begins with a story worth supporting. Conscious capitalism is not limited to making money (although, of course, it does this). Its essence is to create a successful business that brings together supporters around an important topic for them and for the business.. Your customers choose your product for quite ordinary reasons: it works better, looks more fashionable, sells at a competitive price, offers innovation. But in addition, as believers, they believe in what you are doing, they accept your story because it is connected with something real, meaningful, and they want to become part of this present. That is why meeting with that woman at the airport was so important to me. Every company needs supporters like her.

Your story can not only find the path to the main client, but also attract potential partners to you who want to be included in something more important than just the process of buying and selling. Each of us belongs to a community related to our hometown, university, college or favorite sports team. By understanding which communities you belong to, you can identify your target audience and find a story. A story that helps you start a business, protect your dream business, or achieve another goal you are striving for.

Now think about how to find your story. Almost everyone has a passion for something, but sometimes it is difficult to determine the direction of this desire. It is very easy to drown out the call of this passion, to lose touch with it - we are always distracted by everyday life; and just in the conditions of constant fuss, chatter and monotonous affairs, nobody dreams of our dreams. That is why it is extremely important at the first opportunity to clearly tell yourself about it. And when you realize what you are striving for, you will find your story. If you are not sure what your passion is, perhaps three questions will help you, which sometimes I ask:

  • If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you do?
  • What kind of work would you do?
  • What purpose would you devote yourself to?

By answering them, you will understand what your passion is. Give yourself time: it is possible that you need to think carefully to give accurate answers. But as soon as you understand what exactly you are passionately striving for, you will lay the foundation for your story and the beginning of your project. The more you love what you do, the more likely you are to improve and achieve success. If you make your passionate desire the organizing center of life, then you will be able to turn it into a story, and then make something bigger out of history - something that really matters and will allow you to leave your mark.

Tell your story to the world.

As soon as you find a story and start your project - be it business, charity, or even looking for a new job - the question arises: how to convey the story to everyone? The most important thing - promise yourself to tell her whenever possible. This is not a random part of your business, but the main area on which you need to focus. Otherwise, you simply will not take the necessary time to perfect your story and be creative in disseminating it. Every day at TOMS we make every effort to let people know our story - the story that we make great shoes and, having sold one pair, give the other to a child in need. For example, we organized a special unit - TOMS Campus Department - to support schoolchildren and students who want to join our movement. We quickly take on the good ideas of our supporters and use them no less willingly than those that are born in our brainstorming sessions. For example, in 2008, students from the TOMS campus at Pepperdine University began walking around the university barefoot. They wanted to feel what it was like to not have shoes, and to draw attention to the problem. We thought: awesome idea! And soon TOMS launched a program called “One Day without Shoes” (ODWS). Every year in April, we ask our customers and like-minded people to go barefoot one day. In 2010, more than 250 thousands of people around the world participated in ODWS events, with 1600 of them gathering thanks to our site. We do not stop thinking of ways to tell the world our story, because we ourselves believe in it, in its importance. People feel the authenticity of a story and, as a rule, are able to distinguish it from a story invented to make money. And not only people from outside, but also employees and managers of the organization or project. However, if you sincerely and genuinely love your story, you will love and share it with everyone.

Here are some tips on how you can spread your story.

  • Arrange test drive stories. Your friends and colleagues know you best. Start with them. They will help you find weaknesses in history, remove what seems unnatural, and hone working moments. You will easily notice what confuses them, it seems boring, and what causes a response and encourages action.
  • Share your story with anyone you can. Now that your story has been polished, make a list of the groups you are associated with that will help you take the next step. Include social network contacts (for example, “friends” on Facebook or followers on Twitter), representatives of your school’s alumni association. Do not forget those with whom you do sports on weekends, and those who go with you to yoga, parishioners of their church, and so on. All of these are your communities, which are already not indifferent (albeit sometimes in general terms) to what you do in your life. But do not stop there. Tell a story whenever someone asks, “So what are you doing?” I, for example, enjoy talking on ski lifts, on the subway, on airplanes, at parties, trade shows, and on business development meetings. Let your main passion manifest itself freely, whenever possible. Whether your story gets a lively response or hangs in silence will be immediately noticeable. Therefore, each time you not only share it, but also grope for new ways to improve it.
  • Find partners for the story. Stories are never isolated. If your story resonates with someone else, find a way to combine them. If your story is richer, more interesting than your product, services (or even you yourself), then other people and companies will want to cast a glimpse into their activities. Achieve a halo effect by incorporating your story into your own. Here are some examples of this collaboration with TOMS. Vogue publisher gives TOMS shoes to people on their special contacts list (most of them have never heard of TOMS before). The Ralph Lauren brand created a special design for the limited edition TOMS shoe line and sold it at Rugby stores throughout the country. Theory, a popular clothing brand, presented TOMS shoes on its 18-meter display window in the main Manhattan chain store and during the design of other stores. Under the word “DARIM” written in huge letters, the history of TOMS was given. All this was done for a simple purpose: Theory shared her favorite story - our story - with her customers.
  • Take the story online seriously. If someone wants to hire you, consult with you, join your business (or even go on a date with you), he will go online and look for information about you. Your Facebook page, your data on Tumblr or Flickr can be found quickly enough, and if they are not interesting and do not allow you to feel the connection with your history, then not everyone will want to deal with you. Of course, the solution is not to cleanse the Internet of its presence. On the contrary, you are interested in finding prospective partners, employers, colleagues (or even potential girlfriends) - and the online image provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen the impression that you make in person. The key is to have your personality on the Web reflect your real identity and match the essence of your story. And do not post anything on the Internet that you would not want to show to others. Google gives all the search results, it doesn’t matter whether they confuse you or not.
  • Find outgoing people who are passionate about your story. In every niche there are people whom Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Tipping Point" aptly called "unifiers" - sociable people who are the core of an extensive network of connections. Make sure that your story becomes available to those who are able to spread it around the world. Tell your story to the silent person - maybe you will get another supporter. Tell her outgoing lover to talk - and your story will fly apart.
  • Choose recipients. It’s very important to know the audience you are reaching out to. In essence, your story is a story about a specific idea, product, or experience that you offer. You cannot satisfy absolutely everyone, while maintaining integrity and self-confidence. Make sure that your story appeals specifically to those whom you want to see among your supporters, and that it is related to your fundamental strength.
Blake Maikoski created his shoe company TOMS virtually from scratch. The company is famous not only for its shoes, but also for the fact that for each pair sold it gives a pair to children for free. Moreover, TOMS - ...
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