Telling Stories on Your Website

On Tuesdays I am currently reviewing a few online marketing trends.  I’ve still got a few to cover and one of them will be using stories.  This Friday thread will explore stories at a deeper level.  I shall share a few stories and discuss how they might be used to promote your organisation.  Telling stories can be used in different contexts, not only online.

This first story is about something that happened to me many years ago:

Psalter Lane runs close to where my parents lived in 1972. You climb up the steep tree-lined hill and discover it has a brow, a few yards, and then it runs downwards just as steeply. But you can keep on climbing when you reach the top! To the left a driveway took you to the Omega restaurant.  The name Omega lives on but it changed hands in 1980. I went there once more in 1999, when they had infamous toilets but that’s another story.

We went there for the first time to celebrate my A-level results. Three Bs meant I qualified for university, a first in my family.

I don’t remember much about the evening, it was a family meal. There were probably four of us, with my sister or six with my grandparents.

I remember the scallops; a rare treat. I’ve possibly had them since, maybe once or twice. The restaurant  served them in the traditional white sauce with piped mashed potato and presented on a large platter. The waitress served me from the platter and asked if I wanted more. I said yes and kept on saying yes.

I had so much to eat I couldn’t finish it. Everyone thought I was being greedy. It wasn’t greed, it was ignorance. I thought the plate was a single portion and the service was part of the deal. The thought never crossed my mind that it was enough food for more than one person. I didn’t know the rules of the game.

I suppose I was in a powerful place, having achieved so much. But even when celebrating I didn’t necessarily get everything right.

So, a minor incident from the distant past that returned to me as I listed stories I might share online.  Why this one?

  • It is a simple story. You don’t have to tell long complicated stories.
  • I suspect others have been in similar embarrassing situations, especially during teenage years.  If you groaned in recognition or remembered a similar event in your own life, then the story will have connected.
  • It is a trivial incident.  I doubt anyone remembered it after a few months.  Some stories are about life-changing events and if you have one or more of those, that’s brilliant.  But small events such as this, events that didn’t have a major impact on my life or anyone else’s, can be effective.
  • I suppose it is a story about pride before a fall.  But how might it be used?  The customer is not always right.  We cannot assume our customers are not confused.  I didn’t understand how “posh” restaurants work.  If it reminded you of a similar incident where you got things wrong, it may help you understand where your customers or clients are coming from.  Is the client who wants a website with all the bells and whistles really understanding what they are taking on?  Sometimes our role is to discuss the implications of a decision our client is making, to help them understand the implications of the decisions they are making.

So, what do you think of my suggested use for this story?  Can you think of other uses?  Or other stories with the same use?

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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