Your Story? or Our Story?

An article in today’s New York Times, “Turning Business Owners Into Stars of their Own Stories”, made me chuckle. The reporter, Jessica Bruder describes Abe’s Market as a “new idea” in the business marketing game, using “my story” marketing to emphasize the people behind the products. A Harvard expert says it’s “about humanizing the businesses and connecting who they are with the imputed values of their target customer set.”

U.S. 1 Newspaper has been doing that, emphasizing the people rather than the products, for more than 25 years, and I can’t count the number of times I was yelled at, by someone I was trying to interview. “Why do you have to write about me? I don’t want this to be about me! This story should be about my product..my service…my store…my company.”

I’m pleased to see that U.S. 1 Newspaper’s approach (actually Rich Rein’s approach) has finally gone main stream. As Bruder describes Abe’s Live, a “streaming online broadcast where sellers will tell their stories and demonstrate products in real time,” it’s significantly different from real reporting, more like an online advertorial.

But the principle is the same. Buyers are interested in the personalities behind the product. People buy ice cream because of Ben & Jerry, and they buy Microsoft in spite of Bill Gates.

My answer to the dissatisfied source went something like this: “You think the story is only about your company? Umm, maybe not. First off, this is our story, not yours to control. And the way we tell a story is to start with the personality, so let’s start with your background. Where did you grow up? ….”

PS: Trenton Small Business Week is next week and until this morning, the TSBW website had no details of what events are free and what are paid. U.S. 1 (in print and online) has always had that information for any event listing. It’s a reader-friendly point that Rein has always insisted on: Don’t leave the reader in the dark about costs.

The page Mercer Chamber’s Tuesday lunch and Princeton Chamber’s Wednesday breakfast DO have a fee, as do some of the receptions.

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