Monday, August 21, 2017

Storytelling: A Powerful Marketing Strategy for Your Online Business

April 14, 2008 by  
Filed under All Posts

Before the advent of pencil and paper and writing, ancient peoples depended solely upon storytelling to pass along the history of their families and tribes from one generation to the next. Of course, it was an imperfect method, as we humans tend to skew a story from our own perspective and add details and nuances that weren’t present in the original story. However imperfect or exaggerated or simply untrue the stories might be, we all live in countries where stories shape our history. Here in the U.S., we were all regaled as children with stories of Paul Revere’s ride through Boston alerting the residents of the coming of the British, or if you were a Texas kid, of the defeat of Santa Ana in San Jacinto after the tragic loss of life to the Mexican army at the Alamo.

I’ve always reveled in stories. One of my favorite pastimes as a child was to hang out with my mom and aunts for the “adult conversations” that weren’t really suitable for children’s ears. However, I refused to leave no matter how strongly I was encouraged to go and play outside. I just wanted to hear the stories of the “good ole” days” (i.e. back in the olden days, as I gleefully referred to those times) when they were growing up or when things were different. Hearing stories about them in different contexts than how I knew them shaped both my personal history and my family history and connected me to them in ways that I still value to this day. Of course, I l also overheard much family gossip, but that, then is another story.

You can create the same kind of connection to your customer base by telling your story or the story of a successful client. Stories help people create visual images of what you’re trying to get across. I’m apt to remember the story and the image it created much more easily than a bunch of facts or theories or statistics that just make my eyes glaze over. When I was a contractual trainer for a virtual assistant training company, I often told stories to illustrate the points of a particular class. About a year after one student completed this program, she told me that she often thought of the story I told of how I successfully set boundaries with my “doubting mother” in the startup phase of my business. My student was struggling with the same issues of doubt in her family as she started her business and used my story as a guide for her to set boundaries with them to keep herself sane during this very crazy period of her life. You simply never know how powerfully your story will impact others.

In the teleclasses and coaching that I do, I often tell my story of the scary and stupid way I started my business — a way that defied all professional advice and a way that I wouldn’t recommend to any of my clients — but I succeeded despite myself. I had quit my full-time job without any savings, filed for divorce, put my house up for sale, sold my major possessions, loaded the car up with my dog and relocated halfway across the country, moved in with my mother back into my childhood bedroom, withdrew money from my retirement account to get me through the first few months, and set up shop in my mother’s garage. I was just a failure waiting to happen, but I didn’t fail, amazingly enough. I use this story to illustrate the point that no matter what the odds, if you want to start a business and be successful, you can do it –and I’m living proof that anyone can do it — and if you don’t have all of these risk factors staring you in the face, you stand a much greater chance of success than I ever did!

Share all of your stories with your clients–the good, the bad, and the ugly. It will make you much more human and much more approachable with your clients. A coach with whom I have done some training, Chris Barrow, shares the story of his devastating bankruptcy when he was thought of as one of the most successful financial planners in the UK. I admire Chris for sharing the failures in his life and business as well as his successes–it lets me know that he’s human and he can easily relate to whatever I’m going through at any moment in time.

Come up with a fairly short, 1-2 minute story statement of how you got to where you are today and how that impacted why you do what you do. Make it interesting, share the ups and downs and put your stories on your website, on your business card, in your brochure, on your blog, and incorporate them into your elevator speech. I guarantee you’ll start developing fans right away!

Copyright (c) 2008 OnlineBizU.com

About this author

Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at http://www.OnlineBizU.com . Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at http://www.AskDonnaGunter.com .

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