Every so often I try to heed the advice to “Tell your audience about yourself. Show there’s a human behind the website. Let them see the Real You.”
Whenever I share stories that introduce the Real Me, I lose. What works better are stories that hold up a mirror to my Real Clients. When they see themselves in a story, they’re more likely to get involved and respond to me.
Prospects respond when they can relate to a story.
That usually doesn’t mean a heart-rending rags-to-riches tale, where you went from sleeping on a mattress in a church basement to running an empire from the fortieth floor.
Prospective clients don’t need to know if you were there; they want to imagine themselves in the middle of the scene you set.
They aren’t looking for exotic locales or fairytale places. They want to nod along, recognizing the dilemma of your protagonist.
“Yes, I get it,” they’re thinking.
What makes a story relatable?
Recently I heard a story from someone who was invited to her good friend’s wedding. She loved her friend, so she didn’t want to say no.
But she’d never met the families of the bride or the groom. As an introvert, she was really nervous about making conversation with all these strangers.
She consulted with her coach, who encouraged her to get lots of tips from her friends. She went to the wedding, relying on tips from her more extroverted friends. And she had a blast.
Wedding Story: Almost everyone can say, “I’ve been there.”
Almost everyone has been to at least one or two weddings — often when you don’t know most of the guests. And an awful lot of people identify as introverts. This story, fleshed out with word pictures, would probably work well for a life coach, speaking coach, or even an executive coach who focuses on communication and confidence.
Standup Comedy Story: Almost nobody can say, “I’ve been there.”
In contrast, I tried telling stories about what I learned from doing standup comedy on the open mic scene. Doing standup — even visiting a comedy club with open mics — will be totally unfamiliar to many audiences. I didn’t enter a club myself till I was performing. Usually, my audience began to look visibly ill.
“I could never do this!” they said. “Frankly, I don’t want to.”
Those stories have been banished — or reserved for very specific types of audiences.
The stories I tell now? They focus on clients.
Now I tell stories about how I helped my clients reach success. I also tell concept stories — explaining how something works by telling a story. I wrote up these stories in my book, Grow Your Business One Story At A Time.
I’m Cathy Goodwin, a marketing educator, storyteller, and sometime copywriter. Download my free report, 17 Surprising Ways To Use Stories In Your Small Business Marketing.