You know you have a great product/service. People tell you they love what you’re doing and you’re seeing engagement within your online presence, and yet, no sales. What gives? You’re not using your soul and you’re significantly missing out on the value your story has ready to serve up for you.
Even though my entire community and the success of my brand is largely attributed to and founded upon vulnerability, there was a time when sharing my story (and the struggles within it) seemed like the worst possible path to growth. I kept talking to all these other business owners around me, even my clients, seeing them struggle, and I so badly wanted to scream, “I’m with you, I’m suffering with depression and anxiety just like you.” But, it heightened my anxiety just to think about exposing my heart in such a way that could open me up to judgement. I kept thinking, “who wants to buy from someone who doesn’t have their shit together?”
And then one night, I couldn’t help it anymore. The internal struggle for the story inside me to come out won over my timid heart and I poured it out into this blog post – The Mental Cost of Owning a Business. All of it. My financial struggles. My mental health battle. My suicidal thoughts. Losing my dad to suicide. It went viral… to the point where my website crashed and I had to upgrade to an entirely different platform to keep up with the traffic.
I almost didn’t hit publish. I’m still not sure how I mustered up the courage that night to hit the little blue button.
It was that moment, that little push that started to change the life of my brand.
My story has landed me countless interviews, invaluable exposure and guest posting opportunities, connections with business owners I admire – ones I thought I was far too insignificant for to have in my circles – my first multi thousand dollar speaking gig, and a thriving community that uses vulnerability to uplift one another each and every day.
Bottom line. Storytelling works. There are paintings identified with narrative elements in the caves of the Pyrenees Mountains in France dating back between 15000 and 13000 B.C. and we’ve been using stories to learn, share, and remember throughout history every since. Digital marketing can only be traced back to about 1980, sooooooooo I think it’s safe to say storytelling has the track record to prove why it needs to be embedded into your business!
Here are the 5 ways that your business becomes turbocharged when you start using your story:
1.) You become unforgettable
When I was a kid, every time we would visit Pittsburgh and drove past this one school stadium, my mom would say, “that’s where your Pop-pop was running during a track meet and his pants fell down”. Every time I drive past that same school, this story pops into my head. It is humorous (sorry Pop-pop), but stories like this are also memorable because we’ve all had an embarrassing moment of that scale that we can relate to. I know what that moment must have been like.
Now, you can only tell a story about your drawers dropping if it relates to the teachable moment you’re approaching and the value you’re offering, but the more you share these little, honest moments with your audience, they more they’ll connect with and remember you.
2.) You create influence (which is the most effective way to inspire action)
People connect with people. Being a human is a far more powerful way to market your brand than any Facebook Ad, finely executed sales copy, or super high profile press placement will ever be. Being authentic is a long term strategy. It’s not a fast track to a few quick sales like other methods. It’s the foundation of a successful creative entrepreneur.
Right now, you’re leading with your head – the “how”. Your online content demonstrates in what ways your product will benefit your consumer. You’re telling them it will work (with the logos mode of persuasion – appealing, cognitively, to their sense of logic), which is important, but you’re trying to go up the steepest hill of your life while only pushing the gas pedal half way.
Your audience is craving the metaphor. The creative, compelling persuasion (this is called the pathos mode of persuasion). They need to be able to visualize the transformation you offer from point A to point B. When you foster visualization, you can impact what people are able to see as possible, worth doing, and worth investing in.
Attention, followed by engagement and then action, happens when you activate both someone’s mind and heart.
3.) You build trust & loyalty
When you learn to capture someones attention in that kind of matter, now you have the opportunity to create loyalty and unwavering support. As long as you continue to keep both the head and heart engaged, that person will continually engage in your brand.
When people can trust, relate, and connect with you, in time, they will buy ANYTHING you tell them to. Why? Because when you let your walls down, you are inviting people into the opportunity to experience your business with you instead of from you. Not only are they more likely to support your business, but when they feel involved, your audience will also share their pain points and needs with you directly. You get ideas, feedback, and build connections without any extra work on your part! As you get to know them, you’ll be able to pinpoint even closer how you can serve them. You’ll feel your influence and impact grow because you’re adding value on a much deeper level than you ever thought possible.
4.) Your passion is refueled
When you feel this connected and in flow with the people you’re serving, you bring life back into your entrepreneurial journey. You develop a mental strength you didn’t know you had and here’s why… Going through the process to discover your story forces you to make sense of shitty things that have happened. It encourages you to notice and give meaning to events in your past you’d rather not remember. And then something beautiful happens – you directly and undoubtingly discover the strength the struggles brought you. Now when new challenges come up (because they always do – barely after you’ve just gotten over the hump of configuring the last one. every. damn. time. right?), you become more comfortable confronting them because you know this strain is going to help you further develop your story.
5.) People want to share what you’re doing
We’re flooded with information. The only way to shine through the mess is to utilize the story behind how you got here because people can copy your ideas, they can imitate your products and even steal your words, but no one else can replicate the dynamics of your story.
As an influencer, I get bombarded with tons of pitches everyday. I click through to their websites and I literally scream at my computer screen, “where is your freaking story?!”. Whether it’s your grandmother’s love for jewelry that encouraged you to start your accessories line or how reality slammed you in your face one day at your 9-5 that made you think “there’s no way I can spend the rest of my life doing this”, your brand deserves to have its backstory displayed. Stories come in all shapes and sizes and you absolutely have one that needs to be shared – you’ve been developing it your entire life, adding to it every day that goes by.
Stories change the world and people are automatically in to sharing things that no one else is doing (I repeat – your story and its delivery are how you stand out in a crowded market. It’s not your product that accomplishes this). Every time you share a struggle, someone else discovers a strength they didn’t know they had (and because you impacted them, they’re going to share what you’re doing). This is the kind of positive influence we need more of in this world.
And now that you’ve shared a compelling story that people won’t forget, you’ve now framed the conversations you want other people to have about your brand (and isn’t that exactly what branding is about, framing and encouraging conversations to happen around your business?).
Now, tally these all up and guess what? When you’ve got their trust, loyalty, and captivated their attention, people want to support you – and not in the comment on your Facebook post kind of way. They want to make a purchase from you. They want to throw their money at you. They want to tell their friends (in person – yes, business still happens this way despite our heavy reliance on social media these days) what you’re doing.
Yes, you’ll have to get vulnerable. Yes, it’s scary to expose the parts of you that make up your story. But I’ll tell you what, the first time someone says to you, “that was exactly what I needed to hear”, “I’m so glad I’m not alone” or “because you shared your story I’m going to keep going”, you will never be the same. You will feed on that feedback, you’ll have a hunger for it, and every single fear about being vulnerable will fade away.
And now, you’re thinking about sharing your story. You understand the importance and the results it can have for you, but you’re overwhelmed because you have no idea where to start. There are a lot of wrong ways to share your story, so if you’re going to put your soul into this and let your guard down, let’s make sure you get it right off the bat.
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat about strategizing your story.