Let’s Talk About Me! No, Seriously.

Business coach and entrepreneur, Michael Felberbaum, suggests in BusinessWeek that It takes courage to let people peer inside the walls of your business, where your best brand stories reside. Naturally, he believes, as I believe, that it’s important to dig for and develop these stories and make them easy for people to view and spread.

Educate people on your successes. Most people don’t know anything about what you do or how you do it. They have only the most generic, glossy picture of your business. As a coach, it’s fascinating to me how often business owners rush through explanations of what they do or brain-dump an incomprehensible story. How about taking the time to really talk through something your company does well and did right? Can you walk someone through the story of your most successful engagement from beginning to end? As you do this, you may discover new elements in your story that will translate well into your marketing.

That’s great advice. Let me see if I can apply it here and now…

One of my areas of intense interest and deep experience is content development for the Web. I’ve written thousands of articles for publication on the Web over the past 10 years, covering everything from live music, to food and beverage, college football, the ad industry, film and literature, politics, travel and the media. Despite what you may have heard, people still love to read. I’ve been successful developing multiple audiences for my work, by making it my daily practice to write about these topics.

At the same time, I’ve managed to migrate from traditional to digital and back again in my work for clients.

The video above is an unbranded example of the kind of video content I was busy producing before moving to Portland and starting out on my own. I helped make and sell this video and dozens of others like it to a big, old school packaged goods brand, and in the process helped usher the brand’s site from the Dark Ages into the glaring Internet light of 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Does that sound like a brag? It’s not meant to be. But the thought that it might be so construed makes me uneasy. Which takes us back to the hesitancy we often feel about opening “the doors” wide open.

Here’s a brag: I stopped making ads for several years, hired my own crack team of journalists and formed a new profit center at my last agency. I traveled these United States interviewing indie rock bands like White Rabbits, Bobby Bare, Jr., Black Keys, Dinosaur Jr. and many more. I also helped produce an album, created serial Web content for the above non-mentioned client and wrapped all these doings up in a coffee table book (which the recruiters at Wieden+Kennedy promptly lost–Welcome back to Portland, friend).

Am I removing the “generic, glossy picture” of me and my business yet? I hope so, because I want prospective clients and partners to know me and my company better. I’m a writer who got into advertising to make a living, fell in love with it, had a falling out or two, then came back for more. I followed my native interests in streaming radio, content marketing and social media marketing and finally, after several ad agency stops along the way, returned to Portland to mash it all up and make it my own. Which is what this is, a story studio for brands.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. Is your company rich with story that prospects and current customers want to hear and spread. Of course it is! Let’s identify the best of those stories and craft them into something powerful.

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