Motivational Mondays: Inspired Storytelling at its Finest

    Your real hero is your customer, so write your story about them. Better yet: Tell their stories. –Cultivate Communications

Telling your company’s compelling startup tale, your CEO’s Horatio-Alger biography, or your best elevator pitch can breathe life into your brand and draw in your customers, but it’s just scratching the surface of the tale. The true narrative should be between you and your customer. How has your product, your service, or your brand touched and changed their lives?

Your real hero is your customer, so write your story about them. Better yet: Tell their stories.

Even the most creative of us struggle to extract a bestseller from seemingly benign interactions. Below are a few ideas to help you concoct a page-turner:

  • Sometimes just getting started can be the biggest battle. Check out 5 Ways to Tell a Great Marketing Story for inspiration.
  • A true legend is fraught with emotion, humanity and depth—not always something you expect in business-to-business communications. Here’s How to Forge a Human Connection.
  • Crafting your story requires a deep understanding of your customers, as your customers are both your characters and your audience. How well do you know your audience? As you develop your strategy, consider these 9 questions to help guide you.
  • To add a little intrigue and creativity to your story, check out JJ Abrams’ (television writer/director of LOST and the forthcoming Star Wars movies) TED Talk on “The Mystery Box.” Add that same engagement to your marketing story by giving customers a reason to look deeper, interact, solve a puzzle, or even play a game.
  • Never underestimate the power of storytelling when it comes to crafting your social media strategy. A shareable, likeable story can lead to more likes and translate into more customers. Read these 4 Steps to Get Noticed on Social.

For ongoing creative inspiration be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn and Pinterest.


Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Learn how to create a great content marketing strategy that showcases your brand story. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how you can use storytelling as part of an effective marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource



Turn Your Nonprofit’s Stories into Best Sellers

When fundraising for your nonprofit, a compelling story is critical for engaging donors and generating support for your cause.

How can your nonprofit most effectively tell YOUR stories and land more BIG donations?

6 Keys to a Donation-Inspiring Story

Here’s how to ensure every single one of your nonprofit’s stories really hits home with your donors. Your nonprofit’s stories should be:

  1. Emotional, compelling, specific, and interesting
  2. Focused on the needs of the population-served, rather than the needs of the organization itself
  3. Contain elements of good storytelling, including background, protagonist, and conflict
  4. Be brief, but engaging
  5. Be outcome-based
  6. End with a call to action or a resolution

That last one is key: Stories on the web should always include a call-to-action button, offering donors a way to help NOW, at the very moment they’re most inspired by your organization’s stories.

Let’s go over a generic example…

Which Story is More Compelling?

Turn Your Nonprofit’s Stories into Best Sellers“Happy Tails shelter feeds and cares for hundreds of dogs, but needs more funding. Many of the dogs need veterinary care and expensive treatment; plus, we need to cover costs incurred for shelter, food and staff. The building is very old and falling apart. Generous donations can help save many more dogs and keep the shelter doors open.”


“Bailey, this tiny Maltese, was found in an abandoned lot—cold, alone and terrified. Our Happy Tails volunteers lured him out with gentle coaxing and bites of cheeseburger. It was obvious the little dog had been hit by a car. Through our benevolent donors, we were able to repair Bailey’s leg and help him find a family to love him forever. Donations like yours give animals like Bailey a second chance. Last year we found homes for 230 animals like Bailey, but there are still many more animals to save. Won’t you help today?”

The second story talks about the needs of the target population and gives examples of donor dollars at work. There’s a clear background, a protagonist and a conflict. The story is brief, but emotional and engaging. Before and after pictures could accompany a story to put a real face to the name. You’ll notice the story also provides a measurable outcome and ends with a strong call to action.

Remember, regardless of the type of your nonprofit: This isn’t about your needs as an organization. Nonprofits run lean, and by their very nature, they’re not known for luxurious amenities. Donors know you have overhead costs, but they really want to believe their dollars are directly helping your target population and cause.

Keep your story focused. Remember, you story is NOT  your mission statement—this is a way to warm your donors’ hearts (and open their wallets)!

Get Inspired…and Share Your Stories!

No matter your organization’s focus or target audience, you should have a set of go-to stories at all times. Keep a story folder on your desk, on your desktop, or in your notepad, and jot down three or four stories that truly reflect the impact your organization has had on at least one life. Update your story list regularly as you hear about great things that happen because of your organization.

Tell your story everywhere. Open your emails with a story. When you meet with a potential funder, tell your story. Tell your story on your website and create videos to share on your Facebook page and on other social media outlets. Put the story on your blog. Ask for testimonials, and use them on your promotional materials. Spreading your story will ensure both your story and your organization rise to the top of the “best seller” list.