Everyone loves a good story.
Here’s a good story about a runway model, turned Women’s Professional Football Player, turned photographer and badass businesswoman. If I just add in the parts about finding the love of her life and fulfilling the dying wish of her grandfather, it could be the screenplay for a Saturday afternoon movie on Lifetime.
Everyone loves a good story. But what does a good story look like?
- A good story makes you feel something (happy, sad, scared, emboldened, inspired, etc.).
- A good story is relatable (few people I know have the patience to listen to a sob story from a billionaire).
- A good story makes you want to pull up a chair, put up your feet, and stay until the end.
- You can get lost in a good story and not even care.
- A good story makes time stand still.
Most of us don’t have lives where Hilary Swank could play us in a film (if you do, by all means, play it up on your website). But we all have stories to tell and stories sell.
So what’s the difference between a story that would make a good film and a story that would help you sell your product or service?
The good news is that telling your story is easier than writing a good screenplay. Whereas screenplays embellish or change events to make the story more dramatically compelling, your story is about YOU. So you really just need to be yourself.
Of course, you’ll want to think carefully about how to put forward the best version of yourself. What is it that drives you? What is it that motivated you to start your business or agency? What is it that makes you uniquely qualified to do the work that you do?
Also, your story will be short. This means you’ll really need to pinpoint the aspects that are most interesting. Whether you are writing a bio (yes, even your bio should tell a short story) for a public speaking opportunity or revising the About page on your website, focus on one or two details that are most relevant to your audience. But always be thinking in terms of telling your story.
Finally, you are aiming to attract a more specific audience than those folks tasked with figuring out how to market big budget films to all of America. You will work best with people who are like you in key ways. If you haven’t been thinking about your story as part of your marketing toolbox, it’s time for that to change.
How do you tap into your story and convey it through your website content?
Keep in mind, at it’s best, marketing is about telling the right story to the audience you are trying to attract. Marketing is about playing up the ways you can benefit others and getting people to pay attention to you.
- Make your story relevant to your ideal client
Before you start to tell your story, picture your ideal client. I know. I know. Your ideal client is the person who wants to give you money. What a coincidence! Your ideal client looks just like mine. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see what kind of story might appeal to a generic person with some money.
Think instead about someone who really VALUES your product or service. What about you relates to that person? It’s important to help your potential clients feel a connection with you so that you can standout above the crowd. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do if no one knows about your work. That’s the value of telling the right story.
Also, your story is not necessarily the story about how you ended up where you are. “My first job after college was at a big accounting firm. But then I realized my passion was really working with small businesses and non-profits. So I took a job working with my local Humane Society. Then, after the birth of my first child, I decided I wanted to work from home, so I started my own bookkeeping business.” That might be interesting to you and your mom. But if you are going to tell an ‘origin story’ like this, it needs to be fun.
Remember that unless your background is relevant to your ideal client, it isn’t part of your story.
- Let your personality shine
If running a successful business is all about building relationships with others, then we can learn a lot from considering what it takes to build personal relationships. Think about why your friends like you. You could even ask them, in order to get their outside-looking-in perspective. Play up these characteristics in telling your story.
Could video enhance your story? I listen to NPR a lot (partly because they are good storytellers), but I often find myself laughing about how some stories would make more sense if they were being told through video instead of radio. For example, I was listening to this story about a long jumper and I had so many questions that could have been answered by a video. Of course, they put a lot of videos on their website. You could follow their lead too.
- Record your voice
Do you feel stuck when you sit down to write blog posts or content for your website? When you stare down that blank page on your computer, you are transported back to a time when your English professor wanted you to wax eloquent about Shakespeare. Your writing can sound like this if you aren’t careful. Yes, Shakespeare knew how to tell a great story, but literary interpretation of Shakespeare is not usually the pinnacle of great story telling.
We tend to be more colorful and are more likely to use a casual tone when we are speaking rather than writing. Whenever I’m having a hard time starting to write on a project, I turn to the voice memo app on my phone. Talking with a friend or a colleague is also an easy way to get those thoughts flowing.
What if you’re not a master storyteller?
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to spin a great story, especially if storytelling is not one of your strengths. This is where a great writer can really make a difference. I meet clients every day who are amazing at what they do, but who could use some help when it comes to conveying their badass awesomeness to others. Sound familiar?
This is not a problem unique to people who don’t like to write, by the way. It can be hard for everyone, but women in particular, to talk about what makes them amazing. This is what I love about being a copywriter. I’m more than a storyteller. I empower my clients to find their voices. And finding your voice gives you the confidence to own your story.
What’s your story?
Contact me today and let’s figure out how you can own it.
Photo credit: netsay / 123RF Stock Photo