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.
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.”
No Story? Here’s why.
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 trained as a therapist and was not naturally gifted for business. He spent years trying different side hustles but kept a full-time day job. He was beginning to achieve success as a relationship coach, but he didn’t feel clients would be reassured 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.
Stories To Tell When You Don’t Have A Good Story
Beth, Stan and Anita don’t want to share those 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…”
These stories lend credibility, especially if you’re in a field where you want to stand out.
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 story of a client who 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.”
From the above examples, Anita would share a story about how she responded to a challenge in a seminar that led to life-changing moments for the participants. For example, “At one seminar on crisis management, people were reluctant to contribute their experiences. I took a break and discovered the corporate culture frowned on admitting a mistake. I created an exercise on the spot to help the participants feel more comfortable and also showed them a way to describe their experiences that would be consistent with the culture. I’m still getting emails about the impact of that event.”
If you’ve helped at least one client — free or paid — you’ve got a success story. When I work with clients on copywriting, I ask for 3 success stories. Thee stories become the foundation of their websites and sales letters.
Solution #3: Instead of a “what happened” story, share a “why” story.
A lot of business owners publish a story of “why I’m in this business.” Those stories will support your message if they lend credibility to your offers. For instance, several business coaches share stories along the lines of, “I began as a life coach. I was so successful, other coaches asked me to help them, and they offered to pay. I started working with them and now focus exclusively on helping service-oriented businesses find unconventional paths to growth.”
The most impactful “why” story answers a slightly different question: “Why are you so passionate about what you do? Why do you go the extra mile?”
For example, let’s return to Stan, the relationship coach. Stan watched his best friend go through a bitter divorce and then struggle with the midlife dating scene. He ended up helping his friend and realized many newly-divorced people were struggling to build new relationships. They needed coaching, not therapy. Stan’s story showed why he cared and why his unique brand of coaching was particularly helpful.
By the way, are you frustrated with coming up with your own story — the best story for your brand? Check out my brand-new Story Consultation.
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