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A Princess And A Pit Bull Enjoy Some Pie…
And thus begins the story of today’s podcast!
That’s a whole lot of Ps and I wouldn’t mind a gold star for getting them all out during the intro.
So What Does That Mean?
Today we welcome storyteller perfectissimo Katherine Kotaw of Kotaw Content Marketing. Storytelling isn’t just something she does – it’s something she is. A storyteller, that is.
Katherine and I bonded over pie (virtually) and somehow every conversation we have begins and ends with one.
And as for the pit bulls, well, Katherine realized that pit bulls are actually quite adorable and charming and snuggly. So she decided to rebrand them as such and figured if she could do that… she could do anything.
Pit Bulls For The Win!
I recommend following Katherine somewhere online (links to find her are below) because you may just fall in love with pit bulls, too. Especially when they are adorned with flowers and tiaras.
If you listen closely you can hear Ivy, Katherine’s pit bull princess, snuffling and jingling in the background.
What Makes A Storyteller?
Katherine defines a storyteller as someone who can hear all sorts of random stuff and turn it into something compelling with a beginning, middle and end. A brand storyteller takes all that stuff and makes the person (or company) it’s about stand out from everyone else.
Can Everyone Do It?
Let’s throw a little tough love into the fire. Everyone has a story but not everyone is good at telling it.
Take a story and have three different people tell it. We bet it will sound different each time. And this isn’t exactly The Three Little Pigs we’re talking about… though now that you mention it, I bet you’ve heard fun versions of that story and not so fun versions.
It really does depend on the telling.
How Do You Know If It’s Time For Some Storytelling 911?
Katherine puts it bluntly: some companies need to come to grips with the fact that they stink as storytellers and get someone to help. We agree.
Ralph calls this someone “a muse”.
Katherine calls this someone “an extraction specialist”.
If you feel stuck – or worse – think you don’t even have a story to tell then that’s a good sign you need to get some help.
It may be that you need someone to listen better or to ask the right questions. Or that you need a change of setting or a glass of wine… or pie.
Everyone has different storytelling abilities so rather than trying to go it alone, work with someone who can make you shine.
What If You Don’t Have A Story?
Hold on a sec… you read what I said about how Katherine thinks everyone has a story?
That sounds great but… I’ve met a few people who seem to truly, well, not.
I ask them questions about their business and they all seem to fall flat. These people don’t have an origin story or a “big why” or a passion. Maybe they’re doing it just for the money. Or they saw an ad for a business for sale and decided to try it because they needed to do something with their lives.
Katherine thinks that if you don’t believe you have a story your business will ultimately fail. It’s story that helps you withstand the tough times because you’ll understand your motivation and fight for your passion.
But I still want to know… what about the guy who is in it for the money? Who doesn’t seem to have anything to say about why he started his business except, “Because…”
Katherine says that all good businesses have a story even if they can’t articulate it.
Sometimes people think their story is too personal. Or they’re afraid people won’t like them because of it. Sometimes they just haven’t dug down deep enough.
She shares an example of working with a client who didn’t think he had a story, was in it “for the money”, but found out his story rooted back to his grandfather wanting to start a business. Like Katherine says, you need someone to extract that!
Sharing Vs. Oversharing: Where’s The Line?
Some people think our Kim Anami episode about business, sex and relationships was oversharing. Other people loved it.
So where are the lines?
Katherine is not to be stumped on this one, either! She says… wait for it… use your judgment.
Amazing how common sense wins, isn’t it?
She says that most people err on the side of under sharing because they’re too afraid to get personal. But others seem to spew out any old thought onto social media, which can get them into hot water at some point.
Ask yourself: how much of your story are you willing to own?
Then own it!
Ben Affleck Makes An Appearance
Well, not literally, but it did sound cool to say that. Maybe he should sponsor the show.
We talk about a recent documentary in which it was discovered that one of his ancestors had owned salves. Ben tried to cover it up and you can imagine how well that went.
When it all came out he finally said that he was embarrassed by the whole thing and didn’t want to admit it.
Ralph wonders whether this mistake now defines his story or if we can be more forgiving because we are already immersed in his story and we understand that this was just one blip on the radar.
Katherine agrees that for people who are already part of the story, they are likely to be forgiving and understand that one moment does not define a person.
What To Do When The Bad Stuff Gets Out Into The World
Sometimes things get out. Things we didn’t plan to share. Sometimes we look bad.
Then what? Do you cover up? Play dead? Tell everyone to go fly a kite?
Actually, Katherine says, take charge. You can’t control the story but you can control how you handle it.
You can admit your mistakes, share your thoughts and move on.
Eventually the bad stuff dies down and you can pick up your story again where you want to tell it.
The Responsibility Of The Listener
Ralph wants to know whether people have a responsibility for how they interpret the stories they hear.
Katherine thinks they do have an obligation – to understand the context and to judge it as part of a bigger whole.
I think they’re both crazy because… have you met people? I don’t think that “take responsibility for how I interpret someone’s story” is high on anyone’s agenda.
I do think, however, that if we’re diligently building our fan base and we’re true to ourselves and our audience, people will forgive our transgressions.
What do you think?
Your Story Is Not Linear
Yes, stories have beginnings, middles and ends. But when it comes to business and marketing, people may jump in at any time. So the beginning for one person may be the middle for another. How does this affect messaging when businesses aren’t really in control of where someone will start in their story?
Katherine says business owners too often think they have one story, tell it once and are done. But our stories have to keep evolving and we have to keep telling them – everywhere, all the time. It doesn’t really matter where someone jumps in. They’ll catch up!
There Will Be Blood…
Or misunderstandings. But blood sounds more dramatic.
Anyway, Ralph tells a story of someone who jumped into the middle of our story and without the proper context, took all sorts of offense.
OMG, EVERYONE PANIC!
Actually, Katherine says… oh well. It happens. You just have to keep going, keep telling your story, keep marching.
You are going to offend some people. And that’s a good thing.
It’s More Than Your Origin Story
Lots of times we think of our story as “how I started my business”. But there is a whole lot more to it than that.
Katherine says you’ve got to think about how you want to be known. What will make you memorable?
You can be the person who always has a thoughtful opinion… or the one who is supportive of others, even competitors. You have to decide how you want to be recognized and work to build and grow that every day.
Three Types Of Story
When it comes to baking the perfect marketing pie, there’s the written story, there are visuals and then there is social media.
Mix all three together to make some delicious marketing magic.
Writing is not good enough. Your story has to appeal visually, too. And once you’ve got those two pieces, you need to share, share, share on social.
If you don’t share your story, says Katherine, often and repeatedly – it won’t go anywhere.
Does Your Audience Play A Role?
I want to know: does your audience factor into your story? (I’m looking at you, Fred!)
Katherine says yes! (I knew we were kindred spirits in pie.) She is often inspired by what people say and then will tell a story to and about one person, speaking to that one person. It’s always better to think of others before your own self interests.
I tell her that our audience has been part of our story all along, helping us tell it and being part of it with us.
When Does Your Story End?
What Makes A Good Story?
A good story makes you feel like you’re there.
A good story makes you want to be a part of it.
A good story makes you feel like you never want to get to the end.
A good story makes an emotional connection with people.
And remember, it’s not always about mechanics – it’s in the telling.
Ralph Forgets To Mispronounce Katherine’s Last Name
In an ongoing bid to annoy Alisa Meredith, friend of the show and host of the Superheroes of Marketing podcast, Ralph set out to mispronounce Katherine’s last name (which is pronounced like the “kota” in North DaKOTA).
This apparently bugs Alisa but Ralph forgets and ruins the joke.
Your Marketing Action Item
From Katherine: if you want to succeed in business and be happy succeeding, find your story, tell your story and then keep on telling it. And if you’ve got one, Katherine wants to hear it! Share with her anywhere online. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind hearing about your favorite type of pie, too.
Links & Resources
- Find Katherine on her site at Kotaw Content Marketing where you can read her blogs, hire her to extract your story and even find some glorious photos of pit bulls.
- Find her and more pit bull goodness on Facebook
- Follow her on Twitter @KatherineKotaw
- Can’t get enough Katherine? Listen to her on the Superheroes of Marketing podcast where she talks about the value and how-to of storytelling for business.
Where To Listen
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