Robert Kennedy III is all about business storytelling. He thinks all business owners should be, too. He tells Ramon Ray why.
In a conversation with Ramon, Robert says that business storytelling should be at the heart of the identity of a business. He also explains how it can improve three key areas that drive a business.
Finding his passion for business storytelling
Before finding his love for storytelling and communication, Robert went through a whole host of roles and founded several businesses.
After a decade as a classroom teacher, he became an AM radio news anchor. Afterward, he went into business. His first company was an online music promotions portal. Subsequently, he founded a web development company. His third company online learning courses for corporations. And that’s where he found his niche.
“Companies said, ‘Can you not just build it for us? Can you teach us how to do it?” he tells Ramon. “After a while, I learned that what I was teaching them how to do was how to communicate their messages more effectively to their employees. How to train them through that. That morphed into leadership development and then the love and the passion really was brought out once I sat in the space of communication.”
From his experience, Robert shares several areas that can be improved by business storytelling.
1. Getting your “why” out
There is a stark difference to companies that are successfully communicating their “why” to their customers and partners, versus those that aren’t. He explains the point using the iPod. While there have been a ton of MP3 players in the market, the iPod still managed to wow people. It was all because of the messaging from Steve Jobs and Apple.
“They said hey, what would it be like if you could always have your music at fingertips? Do you remember how you felt when you heard that particular song come on the radio? What would it be like if you had that experience whenever you wanted to have it?” Robert says. “And oh, by the way, it fits in the palm of your hand. You can control it all with your thumb. Wouldn't that be amazing?”
The MP3 player existed before, but now people know why they had to have one. They also know that they have to have this specific device, and it happens to be made by Apple.
“It existed, [but] they just hit your why. They just hit the thing that you care about. They hit the emotional, the experiential, the thing that drives us,” Robert explains. “We've got to figure that out, whether we are on stage in front of 10,000 people or in a room of four people.”
2. Making quality business networking connections
In another connected area of business storytelling, Ramon also asks Robert about networking. Why do many business owners network so bad? Why don’t business owners always tell that “why” that grabs at their new connections? Robert says has a lot to do with fear and desperation.
“We are afraid of rejection. We're afraid of being turned down. And we're afraid that if people see the real us, if people see the emotional us, if people see the vulnerable us, then they're not going to like us,” he says.
Secondly, the traditional idea of what networking is also at fault. It explains why many business owners don’t know how to network at the next level.
“They remember the first, second, or third event that they went to and it was like business card ninja-style. Everybody just whipping stuff at you,” Robert explains. “So we kind of think: Oh, that's the way it's supposed to be. He who has the most business cards wins.”
But it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. The challenge is making quality connections. Instead of giving out 100 cards, give only 10 and take only 10. But make those 10 count.
“It's a connection and a quality game,” Robert says. “I'm looking in the room to find people that I vibe with. Find people that have problems that I can help solve. How do I know that they have problems that I can help solve? I start by asking questions.”
Robert gives a card only to the people he absolutely wants to connect with.
“The card is not the introduction. The card is the continuation,” he says.
3. Leveling up your customer marketing
Business storytelling shines in the area of marketing your product or service to your customers, Robert shares.
“You've got to get their attention. You got to compete for eyeballs. You've got to be interesting. On their own, products are not interesting,” he tells Ramon. “Everyone is tuned in to ‘we FM.’ What's in it for me? They want to know, what's this thing going to do for me? Does it fit into my vision? How is it going to make my life better?”
On another note, sometimes it’s not even tailoring your pitch to the specific needs of a client. Robert says you may not be able to get that all the time.
You've got to get their attention. You got to compete for eyeballs. You've got to be interesting. On their own, products are not interesting.
“It may be just sharing me and why I do what I do. Why am I in business? Why am I in this particular business?” he says.
If your story resonates with someone, they will connect to it. It’s a human reaction. Storytelling connects people to you and your business. The Super Bowl is a great example, according to Robert.
The Super Bowl is a game at its core, but in the middle, there’s all these stories. People tune in just to watch that. Then they watch the ads again on YouTube and share them on social media.
“This is this is business storytelling at its finest,” Robert says. “They're paying millions of dollars for 30 seconds in front of you to tell you a story that is going to capture your attention, capture your emotion.”
That’s all in the hope that you will purchase the product. They hope that you will think of the company and the product when it’s time to make a decision.
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