Investors pay more for a company when they buy its story.
We can show you how to make a good job of telling this story.
Want to know more about equity storytelling? Great. Then this brief pitch has done its job – and we have the chance to tell you our own story.
100 million British pounds: that was the amount by which an Islamic bank in London increased its own value by seeking an equity story. Initially, the British seller had added up the relevant facts and figures and placed the value of the firm at 100 million – a price he would have been happy to accept. Then, more by accident than design, he asked a major management consultancy for advice on how to give the whole thing a bit of a facelift. In the equity story script, the bank’s actual figures, although attractive, were downgraded to more of a bit part. In the storyteller’s version, the history of the founder, the management and the bank’s location in London – near a large Arab community – were all embedded in the big picture of ‘Islamic Banking’ and consequently in the success story this 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:
The simple reason for this is that we love stories.
Every grandparent knows that a good story captures a grandchild’s attention. If it’s exciting, it goes to their belly; if it’s happy, it goes straight to the heart. After each mission, firefighters in the USA tell each other stories about the things they have experienced – in fact, time is officially set aside for this, because the exercise of storytelling represents modern knowledge management by age-old means. Firefighters use stories to share their experiences because it makes them knowable, tangible, and memorable. Things were no different round the campfire back in the Stone Age – it’s just that the protagonists, mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers, were rather different.
In Part I we do the analytical homework with you. The aim here is to create the content basis for a good story. We’ll give you the tools needed to define and position your firm and to determine the requisite story elements. This includes adopting a storytelling approach to the firm itself as well as to its founder, business model, products and/or interaction with customers. Naturally, this will all be placed in stark contrast to your rival – whom we prefer to call ‘the enemy’, as storytelling tradition demands.
An equity storyteller goes about their craft in the same way as a novelist. The attention of potential investors can be gained by making use of interesting protagonists and story anchors, building suspense and incorporating cliffhangers, tracing the development of a young talent into a mature hero and, of course, explaining how the villain was defeated. This is what Part II is all about.
Unfortunately, even the best-conceived equity story can be squandered if the founder, CEO or director of communications makes a hash of telling it. Experience on our consultancy projects shows that when it comes to presentation, most founders and business decision-makers tend to be autodidacts. A few simple rules and presentation exercises can bring about a rapid and substantial improvement in the impact they as ‘narrators’ have in one-on-one discussions, in small groups or with larger audiences. The ‘Tell’ part of this book is a crash course in up-to-date presentation techniques. A number of tools from the TED talk playbook have an important part to play. Ideally, in pitch situations, equity storytellers should dispense with slides and place their trust in the power of the spoken word. If they need to bring an idea to life, they can sketch on flipcharts or use tangible props to create memorable moments on stage.
When it comes down to it, man is a storytelling being. We only have to make use of what evolution has instilled in us and what culture has equipped us with. If we do so, we can at long last bid farewell to a notion of business communication that is laden with facts, barely comprehensible and ditchwater-dull.
While capital-seeking villains seal their fate with PowerPoint slides, heroes tell equity stories with the tools of storytelling. In this way, the story becomes the $tory.
To tell is to sell.
All ends happily.
Click for further information on keynotes and workshops for equity storytelling.
Learn more in Equity Storytelling by Veit Etzold and Thomas Ramge (Brand Eins, The Economist), the pocket book for anyone seeking to increase the value of a business.