“Storytelling for business” topics tend to focus on how we use stories for marketing. But stories can be even more important in understanding the direction we want our businesses to take.
Sometimes we use business storytelling to play detective before beginning the copywriting process. And we work with stories that never get shared.
Recently I interviewed Melanie Yost for our Pivot Your Business summit. Melanie, a former psychotherapist, helps business owners grow their business by helping them overcome blocks and resistance.
One of Melanie’s favorite questions is, “What’s your story?”
For instance, someone says, “I never seem to get past the first meeting.” Melanie says, “That’s your story.”
According to Melanie, stories are the way we put facts together, based on such experiences as the news media, social convention, or childhood upbringing. You can listen to Melanie’s story about how she’s pivoted her career and business.
When writing copy it’s also critical to understand the story your prospect tells himself or herself.
You’re writing to one person — the person Lorrie Morgan Ferrero (another participant on Pivot Your Business) calls your “tarket.”
As part of getting inside your prospect’s head, you can write especially strong copy when you understand the story she’s telling herself when she reads your page where you’re promoting a business system.
For instance, she might be thinking to herself:
“I can’t be successful in business because I didn’t go to college.”
That’s her story: Only college graduates succeed in business. So she won’t buy your product because she believes, “It won’t make a difference. I can’t be successful without a degree.”
If you’re marketing to this prospect, your job is to recognize that this story creates an objection to buying your program. If indeed your program helps mostly college graduates, you’d need to present the facts honestly. But if you’ve had many clients who were college dropouts, and you know this belief is holding back your prospect, you can address the belief directly.
You might have a headline like, “Not For College Graduates Only” Or, “Build your business successfully (even if you dropped out of college and never considered yourself a student).”
Another story might be, “I’m not an expert. I don’t know enough.”
In his book Tell To Win, Peter Guber shows how a customer’s story might come from a backstory. For instance, a producer needed to get Alice Walker’s approval to produce her book, The Color Purple, as a stage play. Guber coached the producer to expect resistance. Alice had gotten a negative backlash from the black community after the book was produced as a movie. The producer needed to address Alice’s backstory — not directly, but with a new story.
Business owners rarely have access to individual backstories when developing copy for websites and sales letters. But sometimes you can identify common backstories. For instance, Christina Hills targets prospects to have backstories related to building websites. Those backstories have a common theme: high expectations followed by disappointing results.
What are the deeply held assumptions that shape your prospects? What are their stories?
FREE Download: 3 Mistakes Most Business Owners Make With Storytelling. Click here for immediate access.