Richard Fouts

Article Summary:

A business writing tip about how to use the S.I.R. method to tell your story.

Business Writing Tip: Using The S.I.R. Method

Many years ago, a man who loved music as much as anyone of his generation lost his hearing during his later years. What makes the story even more sad is that this man was an accomplished musician and a composer of great music. But his deafness didn’t interrupt his musical career. In fact, after he completely lost his hearing, he went on to create one of the greatest symphonic works of all time.

That symphony, popularly known as “Ode to Joy” was composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven. While you may not have stories as dramatic as this, you certainly have plenty of good ones.

The birth and rise of any company makes a good story. Case studies, especially customer success stories, keep people engaged. Think about movies. Even when they’re bad, you stick around because you want to know what happens.

In marketing, good stories are short. The reason I told you about Beethoven was to illustrate how powerful a short story can be. I craft short stories with a model known as the S.I.R. technique: Situation, Impact, Resolution.

S.I.R. helps all marketers, whether they’re veterans or newbies. It was given to me by a former marine sergeant who used this model to brief his commanders, under fire, when facts were crticial and time could mean the difference between life and death.

Easy to use, it works by answering three simple questions.

1. What’s the situation?
2. What impact is it causing?
3. What’s your recommended resolution?

For example, think about a situation where managers are facing pressures to grow, comply with new regulations, or retain talent.

What impact would such a situation have on the business? How would it compromise growth? Dilute profitability? Impact recruiting?

Next, how woud your recommended solution ease the impact?

That’s it.

Start your story with a situation that reveals something your customers may not know. For example:

“In 2004, three major business failures were caused by an inability to protect and retain critical knowledge, skills and intellectual assets.”

When people leave a company, they take their knowledge and experience with them. In business, we call it the corporate memory.

The impact?

“In one instance, investors lost $100 million from executives’ inattention to protect the corporate memory.”

Your resolution?

“Our clients avoid this type of business risk with knowledge management solutions you can start implementing within the next 30 days.”

So, what’s your customer’s situation? What impact is it causing? And what’s your recommendation?

That blank piece of paper (or computer screen) will be filled with good stories in no time if you just kick the S.I.R. model into gear.

Richard Fouts helps you tell your story. Using his techniques, your entire organization becomes rapidly equipped to engage in conversations about your products and services in more intimate ways. You spend less time developing your communications and more time acquiring and satisfying customers.

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