Don’t tell your origin story. Do this instead.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Matese Field on Unsplash.

A few years ago, I fell into conversation with an off-duty Emergency Room physician. We were both walking our rescue dogs.

“How did you choose ER as a specialty?” I asked.

“I like working with my hands,” he said. “In the ER you get to stitch up people a lot.”

Not the most exciting story in the world. Luckily, he doesn’t need to do marketing.

Even worse, a lot of well-meaning advice comes in the form of, “You must explain how you got into this business.” I recently heard a podcast guest proclaim, “You need a story of who you are, going back to your childhood.”

It’s a good idea to be prepared for the ‘“How did you start” question. It’s all too easy to revive memories and provide an answer that doesn’t serve you.

Instead, the secret is to be strategic. Prepare a story that will help you stand out and differentiate your services.

Share a story that demonstrates your authority and/or a story that demonstrates your passion for helping clients.

An authority story shows that others respect your knowledge, validating your expertise. For example:

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by sule-makaroglu on Unsplash.


A passion story shows your prospects that you really care for your clients. You go the extra mile. They will be more than just a number to you.

This kind of story will be particularly helpful if your clients need to believe you’ll help them with enthusiasm. For example:

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Matthew Kwong on Unsplash.

Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules for the type of story you need.

Some successful business owners have passion stories, some have authority stories, some have both…and — heresy! — some do just fine with no story at all.

When storytelling works, your marketing gets 10X more productive — and a whole lot more fun. But forcing yourself to tell a certain type of story will defeat the purpose.

Start with your strategic action, such as branding, planning, web development, or launching a new program. Almost always a story will help, but you have to tell the right story.

Most business owners make marketing a lot harder than it has to be. That’s because they haven’t claimed their marketing advantage — not just telling a story but telling the story for your unique services and offers. Your marketing will become 10X more productive when your story responds to your client’s backstory.

Dr. Cathy Goodwin helps service-based businesses create a polished, professional online presence that attracts clients their ideal clients. A former marketing professor, Cathy has lived all over North America (including Alaska and Canada), now happily settled in Philadelphia with two adopted cats who refuse to share their stories.

Stories do much more than entertain and captivate. Download this free guide for 17 ways to use storytelling to grow your business — immediate access.

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store