"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world." Philip Pullman, novelist
Telling the best story of why you do what you do can attract clients. In fact, telling your story can do a better job at client attraction than listing the features of the work you do. The trick is weaving the story with the solutions you provide and their benefits to your future clients.
Stories have been used for ages to convey an idea, suggest solutions, and teach morals to others. Stories give meaning to our lives. Your story, told in the right way, can attract more clients than you thought possible.
Stories can be used to tell who you are, why you're here, what you do, your vision for your future, and teach others something important while demonstrating your values. Telling your personal story of how you came to be a creative entrepreneur or professional can be a very powerful motivator for prospects to decide to become clients. And telling your story well is an art form that you can learn.
The context in which you share your story is almost as important as the story. When you are sharing something of a personal nature, make sure the tone of the story matches the emotions you want to evoke for a particular event. You probably have many personal stories that can be shared, so pick the right one, for the right audience, at the right time.
Properly setting the stage is also an important factor. Paint a picture as you progress through the beginning, middle and end of your story. You want to remember to evoke all of the listener's senses in your story, telling it in such a way so that your prospects are emotionally connected to you by the end of it. People often go into their mind and imagination during a story, and you want them to bring up the right feelings as they relate your story to their own situations. Words, context and tone matter.
Setting the stage does not mean that your story should feel “staged.” Being authentic is absolutely critical. Only you can be you, so it's important to be real. Telling your story in a way that demonstrates who you are, why you're here and what makes you tick is important. You can show your vulnerable side, talk about a time when you experienced failure and how that affected you and what you did about it, and more... as long as you are being authentically you.
To help you choose the right story to tell, and to tell it in the right way, consider the purpose for sharing your story. Are you trying to explain who you are, why you're here, teach something, pass on your vision or something else entirely? If you know your purpose you can find the right story, words and phrases easier.
And, like most things in life, you'll get better with practice. Whether you're typing out your story, speaking your story into a recording device, or telling it to a live audience, it all takes practice. You want to be able to tell your various stories at the drop of a hat when the appropriate time comes up, and practice will assist you in developing this skill.
Practicing your story will also help you avoid these common storytelling mistakes:
- Making up a story or embellishing someone else’s
- Promoting while you're telling your story
- Boring your listener with stories that are overly long or too fact-filled rather than emotional
- Trying to make a story more shocking, amazing or impressive, but only making it less real
- Giving too much information when it should include only the essentials
- Hiding failures in an attempt to appear successful when failure is often the key to a good story
- Creating only one story for use in all situations and with all audiences
We are all natural storytellers at heart, but sometimes it's hard to discover stories that will help our businesses build relationships, stir emotions, and engage our customers. Perhaps we'd have an easier time of it if we stopped hiding behind a lot of facts and figures, product features, charts and instead crafted more compelling stories about ourselves and our businesses that reached our clients and prospects on an emotional level.
Yes, I think that's the right approach. What do you think?
About the Author
Andrea Hubbert, principal at Hub+company, is a versatile integrated marketing communications professional with one primary passion: to empower creative individuals and their companies to design and market the business lives of their dreams.