Recently I was listening to a marketing expert I admire. I’ve been following him for years. His emails strike the perfect balance between marketing and informing.
While some marketing pros never send nurturing emails, his messages do. That makes sense: he’s an Educator Archetype.
Educators attract clients who want to pick their knowledgeable brains. They talk about themselves only to make a point.
In contrast, for Role Models, their “How I Did This” stories are the point. They’re making the promise, “I’m just like you. If I can do it, you can too.”
This Educator was talking about the types of stories a business owner could use in an article or email post. He suggested that we mine our backgrounds for article ideas. Think of a childhood memory, he suggests. Or remember a time when you were new to your field. What mistakes did you make?
Another marketer uses a similar approach. She urges her clients to find a personal story – something as simple as a shopping trip or as complex as adopting a new puppy.
“Start with the story,” she says. “Then find a way to turn that story into a marketing lesson.”
So…will this approach work for you?
1 – Very few strategies come in one-size-fits-all, whether it’s email subject lines or stories to share. If you’re a small service business, the brand is YOU.
As a guide, you can refer to the framework of the five archetypes, which I explain in this free guide.
Not all marketers benefit from sharing personal stories. Sometimes these stories backfire, especially if they seem to go against your archetype or your ongoing practice.
2 – Apart from your style of marketing, your client relationships change over time. If they’ve followed you for a long time – maybe even years – they’ll be open to learning more about you as a three-dimensional person. They’ll open almost anything you send. It will take a lot to drive them away.
In fact, Abby Barry, the Email Marketing Manager of DemandJump.com, recently wrote that email subject lines aren’t as important as we’re led to believe.
Her company once forgot to change the subject line of their email, so they sent a new email with a subject line their readers had previously seen. Their open rates weren’t substantially affected. I’ve had similar experiences, including the time I sent an email with the subject “Subject line goes here.”
If you think about it, this idea makes sense. When you get a call from a good friend, you pick up the phone. You know you’ll want to answer, no matter what they want to talk about.
Besides, your long-term subscribers are curious.
You’ve been sending them emails for a while. Maybe you dropped a hint about “our dog” or “my recent geographical move.” They want to know more.
We’ve heard about the “know, like, and trust” model. It’s no accident that “know” comes first. Often when we get to know people, we begin by admiring their skills and confidence. Only after they’re credible do we want to know the person.
When a quarterback guides his team to a Superbowl win (I don’t know the equivalent for European or Asian sports), we want to know how he got there. A lot of people make the mistake of starting with “liking.” We get a lot of personal stories that leave their audiences shrugging, “Who cares?”
3 – Your audience may be suffering “compassion fatigue.”
Every day it seems I get dozens of emails from people I know or don’t know. Each email begins with a personal story that encourages an empathetic response.
Today’s stories were about dog training, talking to young children, family illness that forced them to cancel a trip…and one email included multiple challenges involving illness, loss of a business, relationship breakup, and serious depression. Each writer was asking for emotion work…and as you know, that’s work.
In my podcast episode #91 I talk about why you might get unexpected responses to your stories. One reason has to do with the context where your story appears.
Each message, read in isolation, would be effective. But they’re not seen in isolation. They’re seen in the context of “one among many.” Seen all at once, they can be overwhelming!
Don’t get me wrong: this approach can be extremely effective. Many business owners gain a huge following by introducing each email with a personal story.
But here’s a tip: next time you open an email that begins with a story, try to figure out what archetype the business owner has chosen…or if they even have a clear archetype. Learn about archetypes with this free download.
Next, try an experiment.
Next time you write an email, article, or blog post, ask yourself, “What does my market want to hear about? What will give them an ‘aha’ moment? Do I want to explain my service or show why I’m qualified to offer it?”
Then choose a story to support your purpose.
You might even decide to use your story to encourage sales. That’s a special type of story – a selling story. I’ve put together a step-by-step recipe to replace “Story Telling” with “Story Selling.” Click here to learn more.