Whether you want to touch a nerve, reach a new audience, or boost your sales, storytelling is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. As humans, we love a good story, and when it resonates with us, it can drive us to take action when nothing else can.
Think about it. Which would you rather read, an interesting story, or a sales letter? Which are you more likely to remember a week from now, a compelling story, or a features and benefits comparison? And which are you more likely to buy, a story you can see yourself in, or a product that does x, y, and z?
If you think back on your most recent purchases, from the business associate you hired to the car you bought last summer, chances are you’ll find a story that resonated with you, and that drove your decision to purchase.
Stories About You
You’ve heard it time and time again: People buy from those they know, like, and trust. And part of getting to know you is hearing your stories. Your potential clients want to know how you came to be in business, what experiences you’ve had that drove your decisions, what lessons you learned along the way.
Your stories don’t have to be directly related to business to be powerful, either. That anecdote about the time you nearly got arrested for not having a valid driver’s license is the perfect lead in to a blog post about better record keeping. Or the story about how you accidentally seated two warring families together at your wedding reception? It’s just what you need to drive home a point about relationship building.
Stories About Your Clients
Otherwise known as social proof, stories about your clients are incredibly useful in your marketing and branding strategy. Testimonials, white papers, case studies and the like are all just stories, after all, and they showcase how you and your products have changed a life or a business for the better.
Stories About Your Products
Yes, even your products have stories to tell. Why did you decide to create that new e-course or fitness program? What will it help your clients achieve? Who is it not suited to? These stories and more can show your potential clients more about your products and services than any sales page ever will. When you openly share your thought processes as you were creating your program, buyers will instantly know if it’s a product that will work for them or not.
Clearly, stories have a lot of power when it comes to branding and marketing, but you have to use caution. Beware of the awkward insertion of a story just because you’ve heard it’s good for your marketing. If you find yourself midway through a blog post and you write something like, “but anyway, enough of that, let’s get on with business” and then making a total shift to a completely different subject, chances are the story isn’t working.
But if you can tie your story in naturally to what follows, that’s your golden ticket to better branding, more sales, and a more profitable business. We love stories. Don’t be afraid to tell yours.
Comment below with your story,we'd love to hear it
No doubt you’ve heard about storytelling and authenticity, and how being your true self is your most powerful branding tactic. But just how open and honest should you be when it comes to sharing your story?
Pat Flynn and Jon Lee Dumas are notorious for their transparency, even going so far as to post monthly income statements. You might argue that when you’re making the kind of bank they do (6+ figures each month) it’s easy to share—perhaps even inspirational to your audience. But it might also be off-putting to some, since talking about money is often seen as vulgar. In this case, though, it works to attract the exact audience they are after. Others will find other mentors, and that is, after all, the point of marketing.
Transparency comes in other forms as well. Struggles with alcoholism, depression, cancer and other health concerns are commonly shared. Stories of marriage and relationship triumphs (and tragedies) are told. Even spats between competing businesses aren’t off limits for some marketers.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to be frank and honest about all areas of your life and business. With a little forethought and planning, you can keep certain aspects of your story private.
Watch Your Social Media Profiles
Here’s where a lot of business owners falter, especially when it comes to Facebook. You have your personal profile, to which you invite friends and family, and your business page, where you talk, well, business.
But there will inevitably be some overlap. Colleagues will slowly filter into your personal timeline, and you into theirs. Pretty soon, your business people are hearing all about your latest bout with the flu and that snarky thing your mother in law said yesterday. Too much? Maybe.
When it comes to your social media sharing, it’s important to pay close attention to not only what you say, but who you’re saying it to. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you “friend” can help maintain your privacy while still being transparent about your business offerings.
Remember, the Internet is Forever
While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. Think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram pic as a billboard. If you wouldn’t post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, don’t put it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.
So, think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading, and they will affect your brand image.
The bottom line: Know your audience and know yourself. If you’re not comfortable sharing certain aspects of your life and business, chances are they won’t be comfortable hearing about it, either. It’s okay to maintain some privacy, even in this transparent world of online marketing.
Have you ever posted something you regretted posting? Share below if you dare, Coach Deb
If there’s one mistake that new—and sometimes even established—business owners make, it’s this: failing to develop a clear vision of her ideal client.
Too often we think our service or product is “for everyone.” And while it might be true that everyone could use your help, it’s simply not possible for you and your brand to appeal to everyone. Your prices might not be in line with what some can afford. Your branding might not resonate with others. Your story may not touch everyone with the same sense of urgency.
And when you try to reach everyone, rather than narrowing your focus to your truly ideal client, you dilute your message, making it even less likely that those perfect customers will find you.
But if you’re just starting out, it can seem an impossible task to know who your ideal client is. Start with these three points.
1. Gender. Is your audience male or female? While men and women might both read and enjoy your content—and even buy your products—you will most likely find that your market is skewed heavily one way or the other. Men and women are different, and they are affected by stories and branding in very different ways, so what appeals to a man will not always appeal to a woman. Look around at some of the brands you buy, and you’ll quickly see how they form their messages to appeal to one or the other, but very rarely both.
2. Goals. What does your client hope to achieve, and how do your products and services help to realize those goals? Whether she’s trying to build a profitable crafting blog so she can stay home with her children, or he’s working to create an online resource for muscle car fans, if you don’t know where they’re going, you can’t help them get there.
3. His or her point in the journey. Is she a beginner or well along on the path? How you speak, how you write, what marketing methods you use, and even what prices you charge will all be determined by your ideal client’s level of sophistication. Whether you’re teaching beginning knitters how to cast on, or helping couch potatoes train for their first 5k, their level of commitment (and willingness to spend) is far different from a long-time knitter who is discovering intarsia, or a runner working up to a triathlon. And you will not reach your market effectively if you don’t know exactly where they are and what they need at this point.
Of course, if you’re just starting out, you might not yet know who your ideal client is. That’s okay, too. But pay attention, because they will tell you. They’ll tell you through the products and services they buy. They’ll tell you by following you (or not) on social media. They’ll tell you by commenting on your blog and asking questions that are relevant to them.
Watch your interactions, study the businesses of those who contact you for help, and take a look at what your competition is doing, and soon enough you’ll have a clear understanding of who your ideal client really is.
What do you think? Leave me a comment or questions below, Coach Deb
Imagine two stores sitting side-by-side in a popular shopping mall. One is your go-to shop for just about everything. They sell garden tools, candy bars, T-shirts, car parts and baby bottles.
The other is more exclusive. In fact, the only thing they sell is chocolate. Belgian chocolate, Swiss chocolate, dark and milk chocolate, chocolate covered peanuts and chocolate flavored gummy bears. If it’s chocolate, they stock it. And if it’s not chocolate, you won’t find it on their shelves.
At first glance, you might think that the chocolate store is limiting itself. After all, there are lots of other things they could sell, right? The world is full of sweet treats that aren’t chocolate, and what about other items that complement candy, such as greeting cards and candy dishes?
The truth is, though, if you’re thinking the first store—the one that sells a little bit of everything—is the more business savvy of the two, you might be mistaken. Here’s why.
When you clarify and reduce your offerings to only those that closely match your business goals, you will be in a far better position to attract your ideal client. Not only that, but you’ll have customers lining up to pay a premium for your services.
It might appear at first glance that the store with everything has more traffic. That’s because they do. Remember, no matter what you want, you can almost always buy it there. But because they stock so much and must appeal to such a wide market, by necessity their prices are lower.
The specialty shop is different. They may have fewer customers, but the average client is far more loyal, spends more money per visit, and raves to her friends about the delicious treat she picked up this morning. The average client at the sell-everything store? A single rumor of a lower price at a new store across town, and he or she is gone without a backward glance.
What does this have to do with your business and service offerings? Everything.
As a service provider, coach, or product seller, it’s critical for you to know exactly what you want to provide, and to whom. If you simply create a hodgepodge of products with no clear direction and without a cohesive brand, you may make a few sales (especially if you work cheap) but you won’t gain a loyal following. You’ll be like that first store, always chasing after new customers, because the old ones keep wandering away in search of a better price.
Look at your virtual storefront. Are your products all in keeping with your brand? Do they instantly tell a new visitor exactly what you do? Are they priced in line with your market?
Don’t be afraid to take a hard look at your current offerings and get rid of those low-priced, fringe products that are diluting your brand. Focus on the core products and services, and work to make them better and more valuable, and before you know it, your brand will have a loyal following, too.
Tell me what you think? Are you more profitable in less time, being in a more narrow niche in your market? Comment below, Coach Deb
Here’s secret successful marketers know: customers don’t buy a product. They buy you.
The unique qualities only you possess.
There was a time when “branding” meant a corporate-looking logo and a slick catalog, but in today’s online marketplace, the real value is not in appearing to be a big company, but rather in just being you. And your personality shines through in a variety of ways.
Your Authentic Voice
How you speak and write and even how you act on camera or in an audio interview has the power to instantly identify you to your audience. You can see this in action if you scroll through your Facebook feed. It’s easy to know who has posted a particular image or status update, just by recognizing the voice with which they generally speak.
Here’s an even more important aspect of your “voice” though: it has the power to attract a specific audience. In recent years, a few product sellers and high-profile coaches have become celebrities of a sort, largely because of their harsh, “don’t hold back” language. Ash Ambirge over at www.TheMiddleFingerProject.org makes no apologies for her use of offensive words, and her fans love her for it. And those that don’t? Well, as she says right on her home page, her site and services are “not for humorless bores.”
Snarkiness and foul language is not the only way to go, though. Carrie Wilkerson has built her brand almost entirely on her ability to be kind and generous. She always has a nice word, never appears defeated or overwhelmed, and is an inspiration to her fans and clients.
While very different in their approach, these two women have one thing in common: authenticity. It’s clear that if you were to meet either of them in person, they would speak and act exactly as they do online. And their brands are stronger for it.
How did you get to where you are today? The backstory—which to you might seem boring and uneventful—is a powerful tool that can help solidify your brand and attract just the right audience.
Kelly McCausey speaks often of how she got started online when she was looking for a way to earn just a few extra dollars every month to keep the lights on. Creating graphics at $5 each quickly turned into a full-time online career.
Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic, and you certainly don’t have to share more than you’re comfortable with, but it does have to be yours. Be your true self, and you’ll never have to worry about attracting the right audience. They will self-select, and your perfect client will find you.
Tell me your story in the comment section below, Coach Deb
When is the last time you changed the theme on your website? Changed your head-shots? Rewrote your “About” page?
If the answer to any of those is more than a year ago, listen up, because big consulting paychecks require more than a fancy sales page and an email pitch. If you want to attract high-end clients, you have to look and act the part.
Head-shots Done Right
We all looked better ten years ago, but that’s no excuse for using old, outdated or—heaven forbid—amateur head-shots.
When you are selling consulting programs that range into the five figures, looking professional is critical, and that starts with great head-shots. Hire a photographer who specializes in portraits for speakers, consultants, and coaches. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars for a selection of high-resolution images you can use in all your marketing materials, including on your website.
Get Your Website Redone
Speaking of websites, if you are still using the same theme you designed yourself, it is time for a fresh look. While you can say that potential clients should not judge you by the way your site looks, they will. A clean, modern website will work wonders to improve your credibility and start attracting the right clients.
While you are at it, take some time to solicit new testimonials. Don’t just load them all up on a single page though. Take the best ones and add them to your sales page, put them in your email newsletters, and include them in your lead-generation materials as well.
Don’t forget your “About” page, either. This one is hard for most people, so it’s a good idea to have someone else write this, or at least have a writer revise the one you wrote. Remember to include your most recent accomplishments, any awards or accolades, your speaking engagements, and anything else that lets people know you have got what it takes to help them grow. Include a few personal details as well, so readers will feel as if they know you just little better for having read it.
Lastly, remember to update your social media profiles as well. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others have a long reach, so you want to ensure that no matter where potential clients find you, the information is consistent and professional.
Getting new head-shots and making over your website might feel like a waste of time, but the truth is, people do judge a book by its cover, and you often only have a second or two to make an impression. Make sure it is the best one you can make.
As always looking forward to your thoughts and insights, comment below, Coach Deb
For all my life, business, health and nutrition coaches or any other coaches out there, hands down, one of the best ways to boost your credibility as a coach is to host your own live events. They’re a chance for you to show off your expertise, provide social proof (your guest speakers will do that for you), and get your name in front of more potential clients and customers.
So what’s holding you back?
Well, if you’re like most people, it’s fear. Fear of not being able to attract speakers. Fear of not being able to sell enough tickets. Fear of just putting yourself out there and saying, “I’m hosting an event.”
Here’s the secret though. Your event does not have to be a 300-person affair. Sure, you can have aspirations of that (and you really should), but that’s not where you begin. You begin with a small, intimate venue that holds less than 50 people.
Think about it. If you only have to sell 50 tickets, there’s a lot less pressure to perform. You’ll have lower out-of-pocket expenses, fewer people to please, and less equipment to worry about.
But you still have all the benefits of being able to say, “I’m hosting an event.”
Plus, this live event will lay the groundwork for future events. Because you’ve got the experience, it will be much easier to add live group coaching or mastermind components to your top-dollar coaching programs. You’ll have a lot less worry over managing all the pieces and parts, simply because you’ve “been there, done that” on more than one occasion.
Live events can take many forms, too, so don’t think you have to commit yourself to a multi-day, multi-speaker conference. Your first event might be a local Meetup, or a half-day workshop held at your favorite conference center, or even a free mastermind session tacked on to a larger event you’re attending. The point is to get your feet wet and pave the way for bigger and better events down the road.
So while you’re planning your event, keep these points in mind:
But the most important point about your first live event? Just do it. Step outside your comfort zone and enter the world of event hosts. Once you’re there, you’ll find that your coaching credibility increases exponentially.
I'm looking forward to reading your comments below, Coach Deb
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