Storytelling guides talk a lot about creating a story.
And what if you’re on the other side? Can you use your storytelling skills to evaluate a story before you make a buying decision?
Mary, a mid-career executive, finds her job search stalled. “I came across a website by someone named Samantha. It’s called Career Champions.
“I was really impressed by her story,” Mary said. “What do you think?”
“What was her story?”
“She dropped out of high school and went to a local community college,” Mary said. “She networked her way to a high-profile firm that usually requires an MBA. She says her success was due to telling her story. Now she has her own career counseling company.
“That’s what I need,” Mary continued. “If I could just find the right story…”
Here’s a 5-point checklist to review the story.
(1) What kind of story is Samantha sharing?
It seems to be an origin story and perhaps a hero’s journey story.
(2) What’s the time frame of the story?
The world has changed a lot in the past ten years. Some firms have tightened their requirements for new hires; others have opened the door to people without college degrees. Some organizations now require a formal advertising and hiring process; others encourage referrals from managers who are currently on the payroll. LinkedIn has become essential in some career paths.
(3) Was Samantha similar to Mary when she began her career transition?
She might have been older or younger. She might have had some unique experience that would position her for acceptance at a blue-chip firm.
(4) Do you have evidence that Samantha helps people like Mary?
Frankly, I’m not crazy about “how I did this” stories. I’d rather see stories about how Samantha works with clients.
Samantha may be a terrific coach for some clients but not for Mary. She may be more comfortable working with beginners than superstars, or vice versa.
(5) Do Samantha’s rates tell a story?
Suppose Samantha is a Celebrity archetype who charges top-of-the-line fees. She’ll attract clients who can comfortably afford them. Many of those clients are already successful; they’ll continue to excel no matter who coaches them.
Additionally, successful professionals who charge high rates are often master marketers. That doesn’t mean they’re unethical; often they deliver everything they promise and more. However, their success relies on more than a story. They have a solid foundation.
Finally, Mary may not need a story at all. She may need a change of direction or a new resume. She may need to start a side hustle because her field isn’t growing or because she doesn’t fit the unwritten requirements of her field.
If she’s a senior executive, she might be facing ageism. She may simply face a narrowing of the pyramid as she moves up. There’s only so much a career coach can do.
As the owner of a professional service business, Samantha’s job is to find her client’s backstory and tailor her marketing as a response.
As the client, Mary’s job is to evaluate whether Samantha’s marketing will be a good fit for her backstory.
Learn more about the client’s backstory with this self-study video course. Use the code JULYCLIENT25 to claim your discount.