Every business wants to get their story out there—but what can they do to ensure their narrative is original, engaging, and nails all the selling points they’d like customers to know? Gail Mercer-MacKay, President of Mercer-MacKay Solutions and a RIC Centre Volunteer Advisor, is ready to help startup entrepreneurs tackle the process of creating their unique business story.
“I love working with entrepreneurs. It takes a special person to believe in who they are and what they are doing—to often risk it all for the sake of a dream,” Gail says. “In my career I have had so many wonderful opportunities and experiences working with brilliant mentors at the start-ups I have participated in. I love to pass on any learnings to others when I can. There is a spark that happens when two entrepreneurs get together and I love to fan that spark!”
We spoke to one of RIC Centre’s clients who has worked with Gail; Stephen Kim, CEO and Founder of Crystallized Games. ”Through the RIC Centre, I was able to have a consultation with Gail Mercer-MacKay regarding marketing and PR with regards to the product that we were developing. She was able to add lots of insight into the landscape of social media marketing from an insiders perspective, as well as include an expert in crowdfunding marketing, which was especially helpful in vetting our crowdfund strategy.” Stephen found the experience of working with Gail tremendously helpful in providing an anchor point for his business and ensure the road-map to success was accurate and informed.
Gail began volunteering four years ago with the RIC Centre. She wanted to give back and share the knowledge that others had shared with her from her thirty years of experience in the business.
“Before I started my Digital Storytelling Agency, I sold technology,” Gail reveals. “But I don’t have a math or science background and so I never understood what I was selling from a ‘nuts and bolts’ perspective. Instead, I have always been fascinated by what the technology can do. So I have always sold on business transformation. In other words, I am never selling the window. I am selling the view. That means I have to be able to tell a story—to describe the transformation and what it means. What is the business impact? This experience guides everything I do now as a storyteller for my own clients.”
Gail has hosted hands-on writing workshops, helped budding entrepreneurs develop plans for their writing, and coached clients on creating their business story with the RIC Centre. Mercer-MacKay Solutions offers a diverse range of writing programs and advice on various forms of writing for businesses, including digital storytelling, content marketing, content writing, social media, visual design, personal branding, coaching, and channel/alliance development.
When Gail helps clients craft their messages for their businesses, she believes storytelling is the way to engage the reader and help entrepreneurs connect with them on an emotional level.
“People remember stories. It’s why the greatest speakers use stories and analogies when presenting to an audience,” Gail explains. “I also try and help my clients understand their unique message. What does their audience want to hear? How can my client enter the conversation that is already going on in the mind of their customer?”
The focus on the customer is one of the most important things Gail advises startup entrepreneurs to remember when they’re looking to launch their business.
“You need customers right from the start,” Gail says. “Even if they pay nothing, get customers—you need the feedback, the testimonials, the insight. In fact, in the beginning, customer feedback and testimonials is more important than money because their references and product feedback will enable you to find and acquire customers that can then pay you money.”
And though there are a vast expanse of businesses out in the market, each with their own story, Gail’s experience in writing makes her an invaluable guide to startups and entrepreneurs trying to create their story. “I like to frame exactly what they are expecting from me so that I can confirm we have met their expectations,” Gail reveals. “I also like the client to get in and get their hands dirty. Create a project list. Establish a marketing plan with goals and metrics. Determine how they are going to be successful. If I create it for them, it means nothing. If they create it for themselves it becomes something they are personally committed to.”
And for Gail, the most rewarding part of being an advisor is sharing tips and shortcuts that can help them get to revenue faster and seeing her clients’ success through their eyes. “I help them believe in themselves because some days all you need is one person to tell you that you can do it,” Gail reveals. “And of course, you can.”
Don’t forget to check out Gail’s blog for more tips and updates on freelance writing and storytelling!
Looking for professional advice for your startup business? Join us on Wednesday, May 10th at our May Startup Boot Camp for more resources and opportunities for your business! Don’t forget to become a RIC Centre client today and gain access to expert advice and resources for your startup business.