Storytelling Tips for Your Business

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Weaving a compelling story that demonstrates your unique value is important to your company. Without a good story, no one will notice or really care about your product or service. So why aren’t more businesses working on better storytelling?

Good storytelling takes time. Whether you are trying to attract early adopters for your startup or attempting to win over investors, it is important that you use the right words and phrasing to convey your message. The problem is that getting those right words down in print is not easy, especially if writing isn’t your forte. Those who struggle usually rely on their strong product descriptions; however, an audience doesn’t want to hear about that; they want to hear a story that stands out.

Here are a few storytelling tips that can help you better connect with your audience:

  • Incite Curiosity – we are all wired to be curious so tapping into that part of the human brain opens the door for you to further explain yourself. Starting with something like ‘What if I told you, we could save you time and money?’ may sound cheesy but it can trigger the kind of curiosity that encourages people to keep reading to learn more.
  • Evoke Feeling – psychologists say that when our minds begin to imagine and think based on emotional or sensory triggers, the brain lights up so using language that tickles the senses can be extremely effective. A good example of this would be Coca-Cola showing a bunch of smiling people drinking their beverage and flashing words on a screen that read, “Taste the feeling”. Using testimonials, photos, and videos are a great way to evoke feeling and relay your story at the same time.
  • Try Shock – you know when you hear or read a shocking news story how it can stop you in your tracks. In fact, often the most shocking stories are the ones that stay with us for days or even weeks. This can also be the case with the copy you are writing for your company.
  • Provide Problem/Solution – it doesn’t matter whether its copy for your website; a proposal you are putting together, or a product demo video if you are selling a product or service you shouldn’t leave out the conflict or problem and be sure to follow that up very quickly by describing the solution. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is that they present their story from a developer’s point of view instead of a consumer’s perspective. One way to approach this is to tell your company’s story from a satisfied customer’s point of view.
  • Get personal – while this idea does scare some people, it shouldn’t. What it really means is, just be honest and open when telling your story. Perhaps there is some way to relate your product or service to your own family life or maybe you can tell your audience how you started with nothing but an idea and a dream. Often times getting personal makes you seem more human and trustworthy.

There are many other approaches you can consider to develop an enticing story but these examples are a good start for anyone who is serious about making a real connection with customers, investors, and potential partners.

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New Sports – Will they catch on?

Most sports enthusiasts know how Canadians feel about their hockey. There is a strong belief among Canucks that hockey was born in this country.  Even though we lay claim to the fast-paced game of hockey, Canadians also embrace sports that are extremely popular south of the border, including football and soccer. Sports fans may never get bored with hockey, football or baseball yet are usually open to trying new physical activities.

Here’s a look at some new sports you might want to consider. Only time will tell if they actually catch on.

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  • Four-Squares– this is a sport developed in South Africa that can be played by a minimum of four players or a maximum of eight. It’s played inside Four Squares that are usually labeled K for King, P for Prince, D for Duke, and C for Commoner. Sometimes, people make up different labels for the squares but the idea behind Four Squares is to keep the game ball inside the squares and in constant motion. How? You pass it by bouncing the ball on the ground. The players can only use one hand to play this game – no other body parts are allowed. There are no teams so Four Squares is a sport that forces you to go head-to-head with other participants. It is said to be the perfect game to help develop speed, reaction, and coordination. Since it doesn’t require a lot of equipment, it can be played almost anywhere, indoor or outdoor. Sounds easy enough, but if you bounce the ball in your own Square – you’re out!

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  • Aiden Ball– this is a relatively new Sport that was created by Aiden Jones who lives in North Wales. It is best described as a cross between football and volleyball. Aiden Ball involves two teams of six players and takes place on a grass field that is about 6 metres wide and 20 metres long. At each end of the field is a full-sized football or soccer goal. The aim of the game is to punch or kick a helium-filled ball into the opposing team’s goal, while at the same time defending your own goal. There are some specific rules to Aiden Ball that make it a challenge. For example, players can’t touch the ball more than once if it is in their half of the field and each player has just six seconds to get the ball out of their half and into their opponents. Also, players can’t enter the oppositions’ half during the game. In this game, you can use your hands to help control the ball but not to catch it.

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  • Frisbee Trampoline– invented by Yoav Lerner from Israel, this new sport involves playing with a flying disc on a playing field that includes 60 trampolines. A metal ring serves as the goal area, at each end of the playing field. Check out the following YouTube video to get an idea of what Frisbee Trampoline is like:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbnAZwdR8SI

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Courtesy of nautil.us

  • Yakball – the object of this game is to bounce a soccer ball into a target, which is essentially a three by six-foot box pained on a wall that is located 4 feet off the ground. There are two opposing teams with four players. Each game is broken into four, 10-minute periods. The team that gets the most points in that time wins the game. Sounds easy right? Well, like any good game, there are rules. For example, you must make two passes before a point can be scored. Also, the Yakball has to remain in play even after a goal is scored. This is a physical game because the player who is carrying the ball can be hit. The ball can be moved by running, throwing, or heading but there is no kicking the ball.

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  • FootGolf– for this new sport, you have to wear golfing outfits with soccer shoes. The idea is to kick a soccer ball into a large hole. The rules are similar to golf but with FootGolf you play the ball in a single movement. At the end of nine holes, the player who has finished the course using the least number of kicks is the winner. Although the exact origin of FootGolf is unknown, the sport became an informal pastime in Europe about a decade ago. Today there is an American FootGolf League and a Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG). In 2015 over 100 golf courses in the United States started offering FootGolf. One year later, more than 80 FootGolf tournaments were held in the U.S.  Last years’ Masters Champion, Sergio Garcia has even tried FootGolf. This new sport just might be coming to a community near you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flaunting: Baking Up Treble & Ginger’s Cupcakes and Desserts

 

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Cake by: Baking Up Treble

When I have the time, I love to bake but let’s face it, life can be hectic and time is something that is limited. Thankfully, there are young, energetic, talented people out there who are dedicated to providing high-quality baked goods.

It just so happens that I know of two such individuals. Alexandra, who is the epitome of creative, owns and operates Baking Up Treble in Newmarket, Ontario. Her delicious custom cakes and designer cookies have been featured in wedding and lifestyle magazines. Yes, all of her picture-perfect baked goods do taste as good as they look. Alexandra treats every order and every customer with special care. If you go to the preferred vendor’s section of the Baking Up Treble website, right under the heading Maranda Elysse Photography, you’ll see Alexandra and her supportive husband Randal on their wedding day. I have to say that Alexandra’s cakes are to die for.

Bakinguptreble.ca

In Aurora, another young woman has made her mark as a master baker. Amanda runs Ginger’s Cupcakes and Desserts. There is another Ginger’s location in nearby Richmond Hill. This young entrepreneur provides everything from small desserts to 4 tier wedding cakes. Amanda follows a small batch policy because she values quality over quantity. Amanda and her staff are very accommodating. They offer nut free desserts, as well as gluten-free products. If you have a chance, you must check out Ginger’s hand pies. I have never had anything like the spinach/artichoke/cream cheese.

Gingersdesserts.com

Books You Might Want to Consider Reading

 

We are well into a new year (2018) so I have had a chance to review some books and the line-up of what I would classify as winners, is long. Here are a few that you might want to consider adding to your reading list.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones came out in early February and you will love it if the theme of the wrongfully accused appeals to you. It is the story of newly married Celestial and Roy who are very content until Roy is accused of rape and sentenced to 12 years in prison. What will happen when he gets out? Will Celestial be waiting for him?

Force of Nature is full of co-worker drama. Essentially, it is the story of co-workers heading out on a corporate retreat but one disappears. The crime novel by Jane Harper is the kind of novel that can appeal to a wide audience.

The lessons of a dying man are the focus of Flight Season, a novel by Marie Marquardt. It is a lesson in what to hold on to and what to let go of. It also demonstrates how sometimes love can get in the way of our plans.

Heart Spring Mountain is about the aftermath of a tropical storm. When Val joins the search effort for her mother who is missing following major flooding, she finds a family secret. Author Robin MacArthur shows us how families can both break and come together, as well as how you can find hope in the darkness.

There are too many other great books to mention is one short blog, but these can certainly get you started if you are looking for some good reading material.

Essentials of Writing for Small Business – Chapter 9, Video Scripts

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Over 50 percent of people want to see more video content in marketing. The use of video to promote a product, service or cause has gone way beyond being a new concept. Today, if you aren’t using video, you are missing out on an opportunity to get your message across to a wide audience.

Here’s an excerpt from my recently published book, Essentials of Writing for Small Business that includes video scripts.

‘Creating video is nothing new in the corporate world but what is new is how important visual elements are when it comes to developing your message. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling a product or service, promoting a cause, explaining a system, training a group of people, or need to entertain for some reason, pictures and especially moving images; can have high impact. Think about how images add to the interest level of content online. Consider the power of social sites like Youtube and Vimeo. Nowadays, people of all ages and backgrounds look for video no matter what subject they are interested in and whether it is for work purposes or otherwise.

Writing a video script for work can be hard and in many cases is a job left for professional video production teams. Of course, hiring a professional production company comes with costs. While this is money well spent; if you have good writing skills, you can learn to adjust your style to create a decent video script. ‘

Chapter 9 of Essentials of Writing for Small Business outlines how to write a good video script.

The book is available online through Amazon.com

 

Chapter 5 – Essentials of Writing for Small Business

As some of you know, my new book called – Essentials of Writing for Small Business – was published in November (’17). Below you will find an excerpt from the introduction of Chapter 5, which is all about crafting News Releases.

‘In recent years there has been a lot of debate over whether or not the news release is relevant anymore. A news release also referred to as a media release, is a written communication directed at members of the news media to announce something newsworthy. People who believe that news releases are a waste of time assume that traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio, and television) aren’t strong and powerful anymore due to declining circulation and revenue. In reality, downsizing in the news industry has led to greater dependence on the syndicated news, including information that comes from wire services. Wire services carry news releases. Also, consider that many traditional news outlets have their own online sites with large audiences and they need to generate a lot of news for these sites. While it is true that newspaper subscribers have declined and so have audience numbers for radio and television newscasts, the audience and need for content have grown through online sharing. This includes online sharing of news stories.’

To read more, including tips on how to write an effective news release, news release examples, and other information on news releases, as well tips on newsletters, blogging, white papers, proposals, video scripts, and advertorials you will find Essentials of Writing for Small Business through Amazon.com

2017 The Good

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

The year 2017 was crazy – a year of natural disasters, political shock, and horrifying terrorism, yet good things still happened.

A Voice

After Donald Trump, who has been accused of being a “sexual predator”, was inaugurated as U.S president, literally millions of women and men around the world took to the streets to stand up for women’s rights. Some suggest that the Women’s March in Washington was the largest single-day protest in recorded U.S history. There are even those who speculate that this type of demonstration lead the way for women to speak out about sexual abuse that they have kept quiet about for decades.

Women who have been harassed or assaulted in the workplace have been speaking up in recent months and people are actually listening to their stories. In 2016 the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted a workplace harassment study and reported that anywhere between 25 and 85 percent of women say they have experienced sexual harassment at work. In the past, women did not come forward due to fear of retaliation. The pressure to push harassment under the carpet has been lifted, perhaps opening up a window of opportunity in 2018 to find ways to address the problem.

Hope

Where there is despair, there is hope and humanity. Hurricane Harvey dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on Houston and the Gulf Coast. Irma battered the Virgin Islands, St. Martin and other parts of the Caribbean then barged into Florida. Of course, Maria peeled roofs off buildings in Dominica and devastated Puerto Rico. So what is so good about this? In the darkest of times, people showed compassion to perfect strangers. Harvey took 77 lives and yet people put themselves at risk by using their own boats to rescue families, standing in the streets to flag down police and emergency personnel to help those trapped in vehicles, and forming human chains to guide people away from rising water. Lets not forget, strangers from around the world stepped up to offer supplies for those who were left with nothing.

Medical Advancements

There were many medical accomplishments in 2017, including the development of gene-altering techniques and immunotherapies to treat cancer. Ohio State University researchers developed a technology this past year called “tissue nanotransfection”. The technology is embedded in a tiny chip and can reprogram skin cells to repair organs and blood vessels. Thanks to medical advancements you can get electrocardiograms using a small device that attaches to the back of a smartphone. Analysis of results can be sent directly to your doctor. Before long, we will be able to get EKG’s by just placing a finger on the band of an Apple Watch.

The Environment

Despite climate change deniers, including Donald Trump, governments of all levels across the globe made commitments in 2017 to reducing their carbon footprint. In Montreal a ban on the use of plastic bags went into effect January first with fines ranging from $200 to $1000. A number of other jurisdictions around the world have decided to enforce similar bans. Led by the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, the One Planet Summit was held with 20 international companies announcing that they would phase out coal. Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg helped introduce the We Are Still In coalition, a network supporting climate action, despite Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Bloomberg also announced in 2017 that he would donate 64 million to the retirement of U.S coal plants. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announced that it is awarding 20 million dollars in grants to 100 environmental organizations. According to the Global CCS Institute there are about 22 significant carbon-capture and storage projects on the go as of 2017 in North American and around the world.

Love & Tolerance

I am not a royal family follower, but I am including the engagement of Britain’s Prince Harry and Actress Meghan Markle because Markle is divorced, biracial and American. Any one of these factors would have eliminated her from being considered a member of the British royal family just a few short years ago. This tells us that there has been progress in this traditional institution. If the Royals are willing to bend, perhaps there is hope for progress and tolerance elsewhere.

To put it mildly, 2017 was an interesting year. We can only hope that 2018 will bring more good, the world over.