So, I left to go to the store on my bike. I love bikes, don’t you? Biking is great, like that time I went biking through the foothills of Mount Everest. Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Peru? It was awesome, we ate guinea pig. It reminded me of the pet gerbil I had as a kid. But, anyway, I was on my way to the store...

Don’t you hate getting caught in a conversation with someone who can’t just tell you a straightforward story? You want them to tell you one simple thing, but they have to expound on every detail, get caught on every tangent. Instead of focusing like a laser on one narrative, they dart around from thread to thread, and the true story gets lost.

Many brands have this exact problem. Instead of honing in on their one selling proposition, they want to be all things to all people–and tell all the stories at once. They’re experienced–been around since 1665!–but still on the cutting edge. They’re the cheapest around, but they don’t forget about quality, no sir! And their customer service is the best in the industry, but it’s all no-pressure sales. It’s just what makes Company X unique!

With all that messy muddle in there, you can’t pick out what’s really important and what does differentiate your small business  from the rest of it’s competitors. We get it, you want to be good at everything. You want to be just all-around awesome and make sure everyone knows it. But your true essence is getting caught in that contradictory tangle and your prospective client walks away with a sigh–you’re just like everyone else.

So instead of trying to tell your entire life story in one sitting, tease out the one story that matters. Maybe it is your long tradition and experience in your industry, which allows you insight no one else has. Or maybe it is that incredible customer service, with your patient and friendly staff who are like family. Find what makes you different and embrace it. Sing that story loud and proud, and use it to get people in the door. Then you can wow them with all those other stories. But when it comes to your marketing, keep your stories simple and streamlined.

What story do you tell?