Telling stories is a fundamental part of good content marketing. Stories have so much marketing clout, they make it possible for little businesses to compete with the big guys.
Since stories are fundamental to the way our brains work, why don’t we tell more stories?
Why doesn’t every piece of online content we write use narrative to give a specific example of real people using our products and services or whatever it is we want to influence?
Here’s my guess: most people don’t think their stories are good enough. They don’t think they have a personal story to tell that’s worthy of people’s attention. Or, here’s a wild guess:
“Oh, I’m not sure my story is typical of the way other people think or act… I’m just different, maybe a little weird.”
Let me tell you a story about that. When I was first working online, all my web copy was as official and business-like as I could make it. I tried to hide the fact that I was not long out of graduate school and was sole-proprietor of a writing service with only 6-month’s Internet experience.
I was embarrassed. I thought the others online were computer wizards and knew secret coding language I didn’t. Never mind it was 1999 and many others had relatively little Internet experience as well.
So I didn’t tell much of a compelling story at all. I avoided getting personal. I believed that my writing products would sell themselves.
The difference was enormous. I suppose I had an “overnight success,” based on the number of people added to my marketing list (ten times as many), number of clients and amount of money coming in.
My story changed. I started speaking at conferences and I was able to tell people about the pivotal moments that made a big difference: blogging changed my life and exploded my business. As a small business, I was competing with much larger enterprises with staff and budgets.
I used that story, and still do. It inspires other independent professionals to ramp up their content marketing and in particular their blogging. It’s a form of a David vs Goliath theme, with elements of rags-to-riches.
My professional story isn’t particularly unique. In fact, it’s a common theme that many people can relate to. Why then was I shy about sharing it? Why didn’t I think it was “good enough?”
My point is this: the stories we tell ourselves about our work greatly affects the quality of stories we tell our clients about our work. We often tell ourselves false stories.
Most of us tell lies to ourselves. We make faulty assumptions. We fool ourselves in both directions:
- My story isn’t good enough
- My story is fabulous but if I tell it, you’ll think I’m bragging
We tell old, outdated stories to ourselves that we rarely re-examine for truth. We just assume things are still the same, even though we now have 10-20 years more experience than we did when we first made up our original story.
Yes, your story is good enough. It’s interesting to most people because we are all human with similar flaws. And yes, you have a fabulous story too. There are many ways to tell it without coming across as bragging.
Find a way. Don’t pass up the value of sharing your personal journey. It will inspire people more than you know.
I am not one of those online whiz-women who bang you over the head with their tales of Internet glory. I make a comfortable income doing what I want to do and helping others do what they want to do.
I am not famous, although occasionally, speaking from the podium it can feel a little that way. I try not to hype myself or hit my clients up for testimonials. When they do say nice things about me (and just recently they melted my heart), I am deeply touched, but I try wear compliments like a loose cape. I am honored, but know that I owe it to my clients to deliver ever better services.
I consider myself privileged to be able to help some extremely talented and capable clients become more of themselves and to communicate that to the world and to their clients.
My suggestion is to start paying close attention to the stories you tell yourself about your work. It’s more important than you think. It will greatly affect the kinds of stories you tell to your clients and prospects in your content marketing.
What’s your story?