Investors pay more for a company.
When they buy its story.
We show you how to make a good job of telling this story.
Has that got you curious about equity storytelling? Great. Then the brief pitch has done its job. And we have the chance to tell you our story.
100 million pounds sterling. That turned out to be the value of an equity story that we wrote for an Islamic bank in London. The British seller had added up the relevant facts and figures and had put the value of the firm at around 100 million pounds. And that was a price he would have been happy to get. Then, more by accident than design, he asked a major management consultancy for advice on how he might “give the bride a bit of a makeover”. In the script of the equity story the bank’s actual figures, which were actually fairly reasonable, were somewhat downgraded to more of a bit part. In the storyteller’s version, the history of the founder, the management and its location in London with its large Arab community were all embedded in the big picture “Islamic Banking” – and consequently in the success story which this banking sector has enjoyed in recent years. That caught the imagination of potential investors. In the end the seller pocketed 200 million pounds for the transaction.
The value proposition of equity storytelling can be summed up in three sentences:
Why is that? The simple answer is because we love stories.
Every grandparent knows that a good story goes straight to a grandchild’s head. If it’s exciting, it goes to his belly and if it’s happy straight to the heart. After every mission, fire fighters in the USA tell each other the stories they have just experienced. And they are officially allowed time for it because the storytelling exercise is modern knowledge management with age-old means. Fire fighters choose stories to share their experiences because it makes them intelligible, tangible, and memorable. Things were no different round the campfire back in the Stone Age. Only that the protagonists, mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers, were rather different.
In Part I we will do the analytic homework with you. The aim is to create the content of a basis for a good story. We will hand you tools needed to classify and position your firm and then disclose the story elements that fit. These include adopting a storytelling approach to the firm itself, its founder, its business model and its products and/or interaction with the customers. And naturally this will all be in stark contrast to your rival whom we prefer to call the “enemy”, as storytelling tradition demands.
An equity storyteller goes about his business in the same way as a novelist. If you have interesting protagonists and story anchors at your disposal, if you can build up suspense including cliff-hangers on the way, trace the development of a young talent into a mature hero and do not forget to include how the villain was defeated, then you can be sure of the gaining the attention of the potential investor. That is what Part II is all about.
Unfortunately, even the best conceived equity story loses its value if the founder/CEO/director of communications makes a dog’s breakfast of telling it. Experiences in our consultancy projects demonstrate again and again that when it comes to presentation, most founders and business decision-makers tend to be autodidacts. A few rules and presentation exercises can bring about a rapid and substantial improvement in the impact they have as “narrators” in one-on-one talks, in small groups or with larger audiences. The Tell part of this book is a crash course in up-to-date presentation techniques. Many tools from the repertoire of TED Talks have an important part to play. Ideally, equity storytellers in pitch situations dispense with using slides. They put their trust in the power of the spoken word, give their ideas instant meaning with drawings on flipcharts and stage memorable moments with tangible props.
Basically it is all quite simple. Man is a storytelling being. We only have to make use of what evolution has installed in us and what culture has equipped us with. And at long last we have to bid farewell to the idea that in a business context communication has to be laden with facts, barely comprehensible and ditchwater-dull.
May the villains in search of capital die the death by PowerPoint. Heroes tell equity stories with the tools of storytelling. Then the story becomes the $tory.
To Tell is to Sell.
All ends happily.
Further information on keynotes and workshops for Equity Storytelling.
Learn more in “Equity Storytelling” written by Veit Etzold and Thomas Ramge (Brand Eins, The Economist), the pocket book for everybody who wants to increase the value of a company.