July 21, 2010

The Sweet Story of Doughnuts

The latest issue of Fortune Magazine mentions Top Pot Doughnuts, a small Seattle company going up against Krispy Kreme in the doughnut business. Top Pot has a great story about the origin of their name. It comes from a vintage neon sign that used to hang over a Chinese restaurant called “Topspot.” While they were restoring the old sign, the “s” in spot fell off and the name “Top Pot” was born.

But most importantly, the old fashioned sign tied right into Top Pot’s plan to make old fashioned doughnuts and serve them in an old fashioned setting.

This unique story is part of what separates Top Pot from competitors like Krispy Kreme. The story also helps make Top Pot memorable, which may pay off the next time you crave an old fashioned doughnut.

The Top Pot-Krispy Kreme battle is part of a Fortune column called “David vs. Goliath.” The column features short stories about small companies taking on an established leader in their industry. It reminded me how much business can benefit from a well-told story. If you’re unsure about your story, ask yourself 4 questions.

1. What do you tell potential customers, investors or your friends when they ask about your business?

2. Why are you in business?

3. What makes you different from the competition?

4. How did you get started?

Pretend for a minute that USA Today calls and asks you to write a front page story about your company. What would you include that might be interesting enough to make someone read the whole story?

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