Everyone loves a good story. Stories are relatable. They can make something hard seem doable and authentic. As a business, your story is a crucial marketing tool. It’s your centerpiece. Your What and How are pretty easy to get across. But, how do you effectively communicate your Why? Your Why is a story in itself. And while your commitment to rewarding work stays constant, it breathes. Your Why evolves, each year looking a little different than the one before. When you write it all down and share it, that inhaling and exhaling Why starts to make sense. And can lead you forward.
Bullhorn has surpassed its ten year birthday. Some time ago, we started working towards being a sustainable company. But then we wondered, what does that really mean? So, we became a B Corp. And then that prompted us to think about every aspect of our business in a new way. Our Why didn’t change. We still wanted to do good work that made a difference. But it took on a new meaning. It felt bigger. More urgent.
So we wrote about it. And think you should too.
First, figure out what to call your business story. You’ve seen terms like Impact Report, Annual Report, Global Impact Report, Sustainability Report, Benefit Report, Our Year in Review. More and more companies are documenting good business practices. Improvements. Goals. Core Values. Call it transparency. Or even better, call it vulnerability. We chose Impact Report because we are a B Corp. We are in a rhythm of measuring our impact on all our stakeholders. Maybe your focus is on the physical environment, or maybe your story zeros in on the changes your company made to its parental leave policy. Shopify calls theirs a Sustainability Report, while Patagonia uses the more formal Annual Benefit Corporation Report.
Second, decide who will write it and how. For our 2019 report, we decided everyone at Bullhorn should take part. We all contributed our voices and beliefs in various styles: narratives, interviews, conversations — a grassroots approach. Our first Impact Report in 2017 was more traditional. It provided a complete picture of our year, including charts and graphs. You might want to form a committee or assign one person to lead the project. Cotopaxi, another B Corp, has an Impact Officer. And if you are not yet collecting data on your impact, start now. If you don’t know where to begin, you can look into B Corporations or do a self-study of your core values. Some reports are heavily designed like Mailchimp’s, providing an overview of their impact but in a clever, colorful way. Know your audience. Moreover, dream up who you want to work with. Tune into your “build it, and they will come” vibe.
Then, promote it mindfully. We put out our Impact Report during a global pandemic. We talked at length about whether or not it was the right time. Ultimately, we decided that people were looking for good news to read, and our stories are about who we are, who we are becoming — pandemic or no pandemic. Again, a company’s report is a linchpin for their marketing efforts. The hope is that it will attract new business or talent. It could even help other teams form their own plan to do better. Studies show that the survival rate of a business doing rewarding work is higher. And businesses want to hire workers who care.
We want to work with clients who align with our values, our mission. Our Impact Report is a story about our values — that steady breath that brings us back to the present. And while that breath changes, it is always there. But with context and heart. With it, we take a stance and try to speak it clearly.
So, put yourself out there. Be seen. Be vulnerable. Write it down and share it. Think of it as pushing your business forward and growing it. And remember, growth doesn’t have to mean bigger or more. You are also not looking back and patting yourself on the back. You are setting goals and calling for accountability. Telling your story isn’t always easy. In fact, it shouldn’t be. But that story is part of your impact as a business.