Are you telling your story?




Today is Monday, September 11.  First of all, when I think of September 11 I think of where I was and what I felt like on that day 22 years ago — September 11, 2001 — when America was attacked.  It is a day that is seared into my mind. . . like the day of the Kennedy assassination, like the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and like the day of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster.  I remember exactly where I was on all of those occasions when I heard the news.


Today, however, I hope I don’t hear news like those days.  Today should find me in Las Vegas at the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Convention. . . and today should find me attending the opening session in which Suneel Gupta will be the keynote speaker.  His talk will supposedly focus on how to “Accelerate your performance without the Burnout”.


One can only hope it is good as the Opening Session from last year when I heard award winning author and business consultant Kindra Hall speak.  I didn’t know of Ms. Hall at the time, but her inspiring talk about how to “sell your product by telling your story” hit home to me.  After hearing her talk, I realized that I had been telling “our family funeral home story” for years and didn’t really know that the “story itself” may have been bringing in clientele.


You see, Ms. Hall spoke of business, in its simplest form is having a product.  And, the consumer in their simplest form has a want or need for the product.  So, successful businesses “Bridge the Gap” by somehow getting the consumer to purchase and use their product.  It’s pretty simple.


Ms. Hall says, however, that getting the consumer to use “your” product is the secret to success.  And, in a business like funeral services, where a lot of products or services look the same you can differentiate your product and make it stand out by the “story you tell“.


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

At Anderson Funeral Home we always told our story. . . .it wasn’t to get business — it was just “who we were”.  I now believe however, that telling our story was a big part of why the consumer had faith in using our business.  Our story wasn’t much different than other immigrant families rushing from Scandinavian countries to Minnesota in the 1870’s. . . but we were unusual in that our businesses morphed and we were still in business 140 years later.


It’s a pretty common story among funeral homes. . . even today.


My great-grandfather was a cabinet-maker skilled in the caning of chairs and set up a cabinet shop and furniture merchant business upon arrival in America.  When a death occurred in our community family members would seek out his craftsmanship to build a casket. . . . that’s what led to our funeral business.


Great-grandpa got his U.S. citizenship papers 20 years later so he could run for Mayor. . . . and his son, born in Sweden and one-year old on the voyage to America was elected to the House as our representative.  The other son carried on the business and also became Mayor of the small community. . . .the story continued with my father and my brother and myself.  Over the years we cared for thousands of our neighbors and friends. . . . .


When people heard that story and of 140 years in the same community — it stuck!!  Our funeral home had the reputation of longevity and being there for the people of the community through thick and thin.


Once I heard Kindra Hall speak last year about the power of “Storytelling” I realized what a great advantage our funeral home had over other upstarts — simply because of the “family story”.  We were an immigrant story that made good in our new land — and others connected with that.


We never needed to advertise prices, location, or what we could do — we had “The Story” that brought us to “Top of Mind” with the consumer.


So — “Tell your story” — whatever it is.  It will resonate and connect more than any catchy slogan might.


RelatedThe Kindra Hall website


Related — Meeting Kindra Hall  —  During Ms. Hall’s presentation at NFDA last year she made a comment that during her youth she enjoyed going to “Valleyfair”.  Valleyfair is an amusement park in Minnesota and Minnesota is a small population state so I wondered if Ms. Hall was a Minnesotan.


Also, last year at NFDA Ms. Hall’s appearance was sponsored by Homesteaders Life.  Shortly after her presentation I ran into Mr. Will Bischoff, a friend of mine and a Vice-President at Homesteaders.  I thanked him for the sponsorship and told him I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Hall’s presentation to which he responded, “Do you want to meet her?  She’s at our booth right now.”


I was able to visit for a few minutes and learned she went to undergraduate college near our home so she was familiar with our community and was also given a book by her entitled “Stories that Stick”.  It’s a great read.


Final Thoughts —  Ever since I heard Ms. Hall’s presentation I look for “The story” in businesses.  There are some great shows on the History Channel about business that were built  — most of us know the McDonald’s story, but are you aware of the Arby’s story, or the Lay’s potato chip story, or Rockefeller’s Standard Oil story evolving from kerosene for lamps?  Knowing those stories will probably not only make you a customer but an advocate of the company also.


So, find your story, tell it, and those that know your story in the community may become your best advertising.


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