“So, what’s your story?”
That might be the most important question for business owners and entrepreneurs to answer. It will help you set priorities, give customers a clear understanding of your identity, and when you feel lost, it will be the North Star to guide you home.
Remember that you are the writer here. You can decide to what parts of the story to give weight to, and the moments you want to highlight. However, don’t feel like you need to hide the difficult parts – every great story has conflict, and people connect with you based on the challenges you’ve overcome, as long as you’re able to connect the dots clearly.
Your story matters. The good and the bad, the changes and the core level non-negotiables that you are willing to fight for. Don’t just go to work and do your job day after day – remember who you are! The more you stay aligned to that, the more other people will be inspired to join in and do business with you.
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How I got to know a stranger very quickly…
He seemed pretty cool. Young, hip, athletic-looking dude…probably in his 30’s. His golf swing looked ok, not great, but nevertheless, he was put into our group of 3 to make the complete foursome. This means that he came to the golf course alone…on a Thursday afternoon. Instead of getting prepared for the best round of my life and figuring out my game strategy to destroy my friends on a bet of $1 per hole, I was somewhat curious about our new fourth person. Let’s call him Nick…because, that was his name. After a quick introduction and a handshake, we were off to the first tee.
After struggling through a couple of holes, we had plenty of opportunities to chat. If you play golf, you know there is a lot of downtime for conversation. So, besides the standard surface level talk (weather, current events, blood type), I went straight for the kill. “So Nick, what’s your story?” Warning: this is not always the best conversation starter. You’ll need some warm-up time and gauge the level of openness for deeper conversation. And honestly, he was ready, and I was genuinely interested.
Well, you guessed it, he shared about his work, his marriage, and his kid, and how he loves being a dad and how he’s teaching his 4-year-old how to play golf. He talked about the college he went to and the engineering degree he received, his current job and he told funny stories about the industry he’s in and all the inside jokes about it. We became buds.
Why do I need to change my traditional “about me” page on my website?
Because you are not telling a story. You list accomplishments and the history of where you have been, what you have done and who you have worked with. Sometimes, you list your hobbies…something like “I enjoy playing music on my ukulele on weekends and I love to read romance novels”…boooooring.
Why tell a story?
Thanks for asking. Humans love stories. We emotionally connect, we easily remember and we pay attention to stories. We are just built that way. Don’t take my word for it, there is actually scientific research done on this that shows the importance of not just having an “about me” page with a story but creating an entire brand on storytelling. Check it out here to see some awesome examples.
So, how do I write an engaging story about me?
Story writing is an art. There are many different forms and strategies in writing but the structure is very similar. It goes something like this:
- There’s a conflict or a situation (The Setup)
- There’s a confrontation (The New Situation)
- There’s a journey (The Progress)
- There’s a resolution (The Showdown)
- There’s a transformation (The Change)
Example of a typical, non-story and boring “About Me” page.
CEO of Cookie Crumb Inc.
Cookie Monster spent the last 52 years in television starting from general foods commercial and eventually landing a role in Sesame Street where he served as a passionate, cookie eating monster. As a CEO of Cookie Crumb Inc., manufacturing the most “nutritious” yet “delicious” cookies in the world, he is committed to utilizing only the most advanced techniques which ensure personalized care and flavors for every cookie eating client that wants to stay healthy and eat cookies. His devotion to every detail has resulted in thousands of pounds lost all over the world.
Education: None whatsoever
Hobbies: You guessed it, eating cookies
Example of a story-style “About Me” page.
CEO of Cookie Crumb Inc.
I had no idea that my love and passion for cookies would eventually lead to a disturbance in the American culture for my contribution to a childhood obesity epidemic. After realizing my negative influence and impact, I knew I had to make a change. This deep revelation lead me to my new found purpose in making a difference in the world through healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.
After years of research and exploration with the determination to discover the solution, I’ve founded the Cookie Crumb Inc. Cookie Crumb Inc. only offers cookies that are “nutritious” yet “delicious” by using the most advanced techniques in manufacturing and natural ingredients that will help you lose the pounds you need.
This new product has been transforming lives all around the globe resulting in thousands of pounds lost.
Education: None whatsoever
Hobbies: You guessed it, eating cookies
Breaking it down:
Do you agree that second “About Me” is easier to follow, easier to remember, more engaging and says more about the Cookie Monster’s character? What does all that equal? Trust. Trust is the main factor on why a customer will choose a service or a product.
Following the simple story structure above, I rewrote the Cookie Monster’s bio.
- The conflict or a situation (The Setup): I had no idea that my love and passion for cookies would eventually lead to a disturbance in the American culture for my contribution to a childhood obesity epidemic.
- The confrontation (The New Situation): After realizing my negative influence and impact, I knew I had to make a change. This deep revelation lead me to my new found purpose in making a difference in the world through healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.
- The journey (The Progress): After years of research and exploration with the determination to discover the solution, I’ve founded the Cookie Crumb Inc.
- The resolution (The Showdown): Cookie Crumb Inc. only offers cookies that are “nutritious” yet “delicious” by using the most advanced techniques in manufacturing and natural ingredients that will help you lose the pounds you need.
- The transformation (The Change): This new product has been transforming lives all around the globe resulting in thousands of pounds lost all over the world.
Again, there are many strategies and structures in writing a story, but I truly believe if you rewrite yours to reflect your own story and genuinely share what you do and why you do it, you’ll be surprised by the impact that will make in your company and brand.
So, what’s your story?
Some of the most powerful hours of television are aired during the olympics. Not only do they cover the footage of the neck-to-neck competitions and the victory celebrations, but mostly, they focus on the back stories of the featured athletes and what they’ve overcome to be the best in the world. Their stories have power. They inspire, motivate and even challenge us. These background stories also help us emotionally connect, and I often find myself rooting for someone because I feel like I know them.
Marketing is about connecting with your audience. And in order to connect with your audience, stories must be told. Here’s an example of an iphone commercial that uses this story-telling strategy to engage with the audience emotionally. Rather than highlighting the features and functions of the iphone, they simply tell a holiday story from a misunderstood teen expressing his love for the family through technology that the iphone offers. Brilliant!
Google uses the same strategy and emphasizes the importance of family rather than the product itself by showing how a father connects all of google’s technology and tools for his child.
So, what does that mean for us? We don’t have an advertising budget like Apple or Google to create engaging and beautiful videos which emotionally connect the audience to a brand. But what we do have are the stories to cultivate client loyalty and to continue to attract new clients into our business. Craft your stories and share them on your company blog, post them on social media, email blast them through your newsletter or tell them during your seminars, other marketing functions, and/or sales meetings. Also, keep in mind the following 3 types of stories that you can share to effectively gain trust and loyalty.
Your customers’ stories: Just like your own story, your client also has a story. Ask permission to share the story of how your product or service helped them overcome their challenges. These stories will attract other companies facing similar challenges, and they will more likely work with you.
Educational stories: Use stories to educate and explain concepts and strategies to your clients. Use your own personal examples or analogies. It’s what people will remember and resinate with.
Your own personal story: Tell your own personal story. Share how your company was birthed and what brought you into the industry. Share your failures and your pivotal moments of success. Be authentic and even vulnerable to really get the people to know you. They will learn to trust you as you share your experiences, failures, and life lessons along the way.