Telling stories, building possibility

The ability to tell a story lies in the power you hold in your hand.

That was part of the message delivered to a handful of business people Monday during a workshop sponsored by the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce.

Deb Brown, a community consultant that returned for the second year to offer information and ideas on how to increase community support and build business, presented the workshop. Brown is the head of SaveYour.Town, billed as building possibility.

Monday's theme was “Tell Your Story,” or stories that sell not only the individual business, but the community.

“You can't do what you've always done. The old way of doing things no longer works,” Brown told the group.

Brown said a good way of advertising business or the community, in addition to newspaper, radio and television is through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, blog spots or Twitter.

“You have the power in your hands. There is more power in that phone than was used in the computers that sent a man to the moon,” she said.

Brown said to tell a story that involves a character who wants something and faces obstacles. Once you write your story, it could be used six times across all platforms. She said businesses could talk about their products, their customers, or share photos of their customers and family. Entities like the chamber could develop handouts that show shopping and dining opportunities, or events.

Those stories, events, businesses, or products can be told on social media, Brown said, or purchase advertising in the newspaper and radio. These are areas where a business can post photos of food or in-store items and share those photos across Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, adding that they could be shared more than once.

Another form of getting the word out or telling a story is to tell the town gossip, Brown said with a laugh, that person that seems to know everything that is going on. “Just keep it tame and non-political. Face-to-face and word of mouth is still the best way to get the word out.”

Other suggestions for getting the word out included creating posters, or fliers and posting them around town. She said to use others to tell your story and tell other peoples' stories, using emotion and creating a bond. Use an idea-friendly platform, gather your crowd. “Community happens when people talk to each other,” she said.

Brown said to ignore the person she called the “President of the Community of Negativity, urging the group to build connections and gather your crowd together – negative people are not invited.

To better come together, Brown said the community could hold business resource nights, networking events or back room tours of businesses to learn how those businesses operate, plus, it allows individuals to make contacts and connections with others in the community.

In some areas where buildings are sitting empty, Brown said incubator projects could be started. She suggested ideas for bringing the community together that included sprinklers in the park, a dog park, movies on the wall, cleaning your own block and shopping trails as a few examples.

“Just take small steps...small but meaningful steps,” she said.

Sequoyah County Times

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