As writers, we are quite comfortable helping others with their stories. We help individuals, churches, nonprofits, businesses, governmental agencies, and others share their information and stories in a way that gets them noticed.
But what about our own?
Whether you weave stories for others to enjoy through novels and other fiction or you bang out short stories through ads, client bios, and other corporate pieces, make sure you are using those same skills to capture your story. You see, whether you run a writing business, a consultancy, or any other kind of business or organization where you want to connect with your audience, your story is important.
It’s not enough to just offer a service or a product. The marketplace is full of individuals, businesses, and organizations that have stuff to sell. What can make your business or organization stand out is the story you tell.
Here is why.
1. Your story shows why you are different.
Many people try desperately to be like someone else, or to blend in, thinking that is the way to career success. But being a bland copy of someone else, rather than the unique and flawed person that you are can be the very thing holding you back. That is because the world has enough copies. If you are like everyone else, then what is there to distinguish you? In terms of your business, if your business is just like the next one offering the same product or service, then what is to make you the better choice? If you only have price to compete on, then you’re playing a losing battle because you can only drive your own prices and rates down in order to be the cheap option, which often doesn’t equate to the best option.
Your story tells your target customer or client why you may be a better choice for him or her. For instance, maybe your background as a gardener when you were a teen helped educate you about the practical aspects of taking care of plants and about alternative remedies for common ailments. Maybe your new client chooses you to help with her publicity campaign surrounding her new book on home remedies from the garden. Or maybe the fact that you came from a poverty-stricken and troubled past but are now successful is a powerful way to distinguish yourself from others doing the work you do, speaking, for instance. This back story can be the thing to help organizations choose to book you instead of the next guy. Maybe you run a nonprofit that has been seeing a steady decline in donations lately. You’ve turned very corporate in everything you do, and in so doing, may have forgotten about the human element. What if you forget the facts and figures for your next campaign and focus on telling a compelling story about the work you do and the lives it has changed? Do this in a real and authentic way and you could bump up those donations.
Your story may tell what you do, but if you are smart, it also shows how you do it — with integrity, smartly, in a quirky way, whatever describes your approach. And that brings us to …
2. Your story strikes an emotional note.
We all like to think we make buying decisions based just on the facts, but that’s just not true. It’s the story that matters, in the end. We buy because we connect with the product or service on an emotional level. Think about the last thing you purchased a product that was new to you. In other words, one you had not purchased before. You bought that because you connected with the message around it, the advertising. You bought it because you thought it would do the thing the ad suggested — make life better, make you smarter, make you cooler, create beauty, whatever.
The same goes for you, if you tell your story right. When you tell your story to your target customer or client, it isn’t just about the facts of that story, but about the emotions around it. Does your story convey a feeling of adventure, safety, superior quality, efficiency, or what? What is the feeling you want to convey?
Think about it from your perspective as a buyer: Do you spend a little (or a lot) extra money to go to that nice restaurant simply because the food may taste better than the quickie place next door? If you do, it’s because of the story it promises — better service, better ingredients, chance to spot a celebrity, feeling of being pampered.
What about those shoes? Do you buy the $150 shoes when the $30 shoes will serve the same purpose? If you do, it’s because of the story — the more expensive shoes promise you’ll be more sophisticated, you’ll get noticed more, you’ll feel sexier, or, in the case of sports shoes, you will perform better.
Now that you’ve thought of this from your perspective as a buyer, you can see more clearly how the story of you or your business can impact your buyer or the person you want to connect with in some way.
Think through your story and craft the message in such a way that shares your special qualities that hold a promise for the other person.
Perhaps you tell a story that conveys a feeling of gritty determination. Or maybe you tell one that is about quiet strength. Or maybe it’s about the big, rich, beautiful life. Whatever the story you tell, know that there is an emotional component to it. And that’s what resonates with the person you want to reach.
3. Your story helps focus your marketing, helping buyers find you.
Your story can help you refine your idea of the ideal client or your search for clients. That is because while your story can help you appeal to the people you want to reach, it can also focus your efforts and let you know that not everyone is your ideal client or a good match for you or your work. This can be helpful in enabling you to know where to dedicate your marketing time (and dollars). For instance, if your story attracts free-spirited solopreneurs, then maybe you realize marketing to corporations in the way you have been doing isn’t the best use of your time.
This is an important thing to note. It’s common to hear people say they want to appeal to everyone, but trying to appeal to everyone is a recipe for appealing to no one, because you have nothing that distinguishes you. So be bold when sharing your story. Look for the best elements to highlight, and convey a message and an emotion that makes you stand out to the people you truly want to attract.
Tools to help you tell your story
Of course as a book ghostwriter, I believe a book is one of the best tools one can use to share a story and grow a business. I help clients craft their messages and stories through books every day. But you have other tools at your disposal as well — your social media profiles, your website, your blog, even the stage if you are a speaker. Don’t get so focused on the facts of your business that you forget the story. The story is what connects you to those who want to buy from you. Tell a powerful enough story, and you’ll always have a listener.
Want to learn how to use your story to connect with others to grow your career? Get on the mailing list and be among the first to find out when my next book, Connect and Conquer: Grow Your Business, Organization, and Career Through Online and Offline Relationships is published! Click here.