A few weeks ago, I was doing errands with my wife and daughter. While they went to get bubble tea, I decided to pop into a store that repairs Macs.

The store is small – probably 10′ x 40 – and it’s crammed with laptops, desktops, monitors, and parts. It looks like the workshop of a mad scientist who happily collects unwanted and unloved computers from people who have moved on to newer, shinier products.

The store’s hours are erratic. Sometimes, it is open until 8 p.m. Sometimes, it doesn’t open until noon. It is the antithesis to the beautifully designed Apple store teeming with hipsters and overly-enthusiastic, freshly scrubbed Apple worker bees.

I was curious to see if the store had a used iMac for sale. I wanted a desktop to monitor my children’s’ computer usage, rather than letting them disappear into their rooms for hours with a laptop.

After telling the store’s owner what I wanted, he shuffled around a few computers and pulled out a six-year-old iMac. The price was right so I walked out with a new/used desktop.

So what’s the point of this story?

It shows that stories are everywhere. The key is keeping your eyes and ears open. We are surrounded by stories but many of them escape our attention. Most people are not trained as storytellers so good storytelling opportunities quickly and quietly come and go.

Although the power of storytelling is getting more attention, many brands struggle with storytelling. They understand the concept but can’t  turn it into reality. As a storyteller, it is puzzling because I see stories everywhere. Tell me something about your startup, and I can quickly tell you a story. Now, it may not be a great story but it is the nugget of an idea.

If you struggle with storytelling, here are a few ways to capture stories:

Think about the needs, interests, and questions of the people who matter to your business – customers, employees, partners and investors. What captures their attention? What do they want to learn or need to know about your product or market?

Lead with a use-case, not product details. Tell them about the experiences of other customers who use your product. Talk about how your product was discovered, or how a customer is using it in an unexpected or different way. Tell them customer success stories.

Have a 24/7 focus on capturing storytelling ideas. Good stories emerge all the time but they quickly evaporate in a fast-moving world. You need a system – e.g. paper, Evernote, Pocket – to seize stories ideas in the moment. Write yourself a note, make a recording or send yourself an email with a few words.

Practice your storytelling. Like anything, quality stories happen when a lot of work occurs behind the scenes. Creating good stories takes time. Some emerge with meat on the bone, while other stories begin an idea. Then, it is important to tell these stories and hone them over time. As more stories are created, it is easier to identify what works and what doesn’t work.

Track the success of your storytelling to determine the stories that made an impact and generated a reaction. What was it about these stories that resonated with target audiences? What did they have in common? Once patterns are recognized, it is a matter of telling the same kind of stories.

How do you power your storytelling? What are the tools and techniques used to capture and tell stories?

I’ve worked with dozens of startups and fast-moving companies looking to accelerate their growth with marketing powered by storytelling. My services are driven by frameworks and processes to create messaging, strategic plans and content. If you want marketing that makes a difference, let’s talk. If you’re looking for hand-picked startup content, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.