When I say “strategic storytelling” to a group, at least one person will say, “I don’t see how storytelling fits my business.” That’s especially true when the group includes financial services businesses.
That’s a reasonable comment if you buy into the most common advice offered for business storytelling: “Tell your story. Show how you struggled.” People don’t want to work with a financial advisor or a money coach who’s just recently rolled out of debt.
The advice to “be vulnerable” and “show you struggled” doesn’t work for most business owners. Those stories seem particularly dangerous for anyone who’s in a position requiring trust. We want to focus on their expertise and problem-solving success, not their weakness and loss.
But I have to meet a service-based business owner who couldn’t benefit from a good story.So let’s dive into the story basics,
(1) Your first step is to identify your story archetype, using this free guide. http://mycopy.info/
(2) Start with the goal, not the story.
Let’s look at three financial planners — same type of business but different approaches to branding.
Julie fits the Educator Archetype. She’s identified three ways a family might start a college fund for their children, based on their values. So she tells a story to compare the way the Smith, Jones and Green families carve out savings, given they have the same income but very different values and lifestyles.
Stan fits the Role Model archetype. He relates to clients as a friendly mentor. He loves working with clients who have never invested in anything but a savings account at the bank.
Stan can talk about growing up on a farm, joining the military, and discovering that small amounts will grow into big investments. Maybe he started helping his fellow soldiers with their taxes. Or he can share stories of people he helped, who were surprised how they were able to build a solid portfolio without spending time to learn the system.
Gina fits the Inventor archetype. She’s developed a novel way to approach the whole topic of planning for people in a certain income bracket. She even wrote a book on it, sharing some unusual ideas, such as “Rent your home, don’t buy.”
Gina’s stories will feature people who adopted her innovative approach and succeeded. She won’t need to share stories about herself. She’s branding with a program that no one else can offer.
(3) Finally, tell only stories that make you feel good about promoting yourself.
Ignore the oft-quoted advice to “bare your soul,” unless you feel really comfortable sharing the backstories of your life. Most likely you won’t have to.
Just recently I was advising a client on a sales letter.
“Don’t I need to tell my story?” she asked.
Her story didn’t support any of the points she wanted to make. Basically, she decided to go into business, hired a coach, and drew on her corporate background. Nothing to tell!
“I just heard a webinar where they advised us to ‘Go Naked,'” she said mischievously. “But I’m glad I don’t have to.”
She felt more comfortable keeping her virtual clothes on. So she shared a couple of strong success stories from her ideal clients.
As we talked, she realized she’s got a dozen more stories just waiting to be told in good time. And she wasn’t surprised when we recognized her as an Innovator archetype. She had developed a financial services firm with some innovative products and services, targeting single and newly-divorced women. She used conventional financing wisdom, but her packaging was customized to appeal to this often-neglected (but potentially lucrative) segment.
If you’d like to talk about your own business and your needs for creating persuasive, high-converting content, let’s set up a consultation. Click here to learn more or send a message via this contact form if you have questions.