When you offer a service, storytelling helps you sell yourself. When your story becomes the focus of your About Page, your story becomes your brand. Therefore you need to manage your story, just as you would create your logo, colors, and tag line.
Your story is especially important when you have a product that isn’t entirely unique. For instance, you might be selling a product that has many close competitors, where personality is not a factor. A story creates an emotional association with your brand. Think of Budweiser and the Clydesdales.
When storytelling, it’s not a good idea to lie or falsify your story. It’s too easy to be discovered and your reputation will be damaged, sometimes beyond repair. However, you can be selective in the story you choose to tell and the way you tell it. That’s the most effective and most ethical form of “spin.”
Here are 3 common challenges that call for some heavy-duty story spinning.
Challenge #1: “I don’t have a dramatic story.”
For example, Beth started a business while she was working full-time. She simply put out the word that she was available to organize kitchens, offices and cluttered closets.
Beth didn’t have much of a story. She’d always enjoyed organizing since she was a child; she didn’t have a story of her own clutter. She didn’t have a business story because her business grew almost effortlessly by word of mouth.
Challenge #2: “My story makes me look bad.”
Stan could be Beth’s shadow self. He was not naturally gifted for business. He spent years floating around, trying different things. Although he achieved moderate success, he realized clients would be unnerved by a story of “struggling for many years…”
Challenge #3: “My story doesn’t have a happy ending.”
Anita was a gifted seminar leader and speaker but her business was growing slowly. She believed she needed a story that ended, “I’m now speaking to large audiences and enjoy a six-figure income …” However, she was still growing her business and her accountant advised her not to divulge her income anytime, ever.
Spinning Your Story Challenges
Beth, Stan and Anita don’t want to share these stories. Here’s what can they do instead.
Solution #1: Instead of “How I Got Here,” they can write, “What Makes Me Uniquely Qualified To Serve My Clients.”
For instance, Beth might share, “Even when I was a kid, I loved putting my toys away in little boxes. As a college freshman, I was the one who helped everybody figure out how to live in a tiny dorm room – we even found room for our refrigerators. My job as a financial analyst called for organization of 500 separate pieces of paper that contributed to our annual report. So the third time a neighbor asked me to help organize her closet, I decided it was time for a business. And here’s what I can do for you…”
Solution #2: Instead of “My Story,” share what you have done for your clients.
Even a few successes will have impact. For instance, I like to tell the true story of a client who said, “After you wrote the copy for my website, I got more traffic and more revenue.” Another client said, “Clients used to insist on face-to-face meetings; now they feel they know me so we set up a contract over the phone.”
Often your clients won’t care about your life story. They do care about the ways you might help them, now, today.
Solution #3: Instead of a “what happened” story, share a “why” story.
This story works especially well if you’re naturally good at something or you found a simple solution and you’re surprised to find that most people make things too complicated.
For example, my “why” story might be:
“I’ve been creating courses for most of my adult life. As a college professor, I taught courses year after year to everyone from bored young undergraduates to business people who were earning MBAs. When I started online I created courses all over the place.
“But was shocked to discover that people were paying nearly four-figure sums to learn something that required less than an hour to explain. Most of these programs have a lot of fillers and fluff. They make things much more complicate than they need to be.
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