How do your people know what you’re offering?
Think about all of the great businesses out there. They have a clear story, right?
You’re not confused about what Uber is selling, or what Staples sells are you? Their story is clear - we sell you office supplies, or we take you from point A to point B in a better way than taxis. You know instantly what they do, and they are able to tell a compelling story to get you to buy!
If you’re a music teacher, it’s super easy to say “I teach private saxophone lessons to middle school and high school students”. BAM! Easy. If you had to explain WHY you offer lessons, that’s probably also pretty easy.
Personally, I teach music because I feel it is my purpose to share with others knowledge that I have found has brought me happiness and success. Its no surprise that business coaching has become a passion of mine too, really.
To be able to tell your story with clarity and passion is truly one of the most powerful things you can do to support your business’ growth. Without a clear, compelling story, your customers will be confused. (And confusion leads to low sales numbers).
Its also super helpful when you're composing cover letters or reaching out to potential employers.
A compelling story ensures that your voice is heard amongst the noise. It is what draws people to be curious about your work, and what leads them to "stick" to you.
Your story is what makes you unique - and what helps you stand out from the crowd.
But how do you tell a compelling story?
Start with a message
Before you start telling your story, you need to be clear on who you're writing for and why. Ask yourself two simple questions:
- Who is my target audience?
- What am I trying to say to them? What message do I want them to hear?
Once you have this foundation, your story will have a clear trajectory and you can start to flesh it out.
Write what you know
We've all heard it a thousand time - write what you know. And for your business or cover letter, or anything that is personal with your story, this is the best place to start.
List some anecdotes from your life that fit into the context of your two questions above. Come up with as many as you can because you never know which direction your writing will take until you get started.
Its often a great idea to start with one of these anecdotes at the beginning of your story, as they will personalize your writing and draw a reader in to what you have to say straight away. Depending on the purpose or message of your overall story, this could solidify your stance, outline your beliefs, show how you've overcome a challenge or built something from scratch. The idea is to be vulnerable and real with your audience.
But don't be braggy
You don't need to paint yourself as a hero. You can achieve a great deal without being braggy or coming across as a self-proclaimed hero of humanity.
Its your story, so you can certainly be in it all, but try to focus on your readers and their experience of your writing. What did you learn, how did others feel through this, what did you witness? How are your words invoking an emotion within your reader? How can they relate to your story?
A touch of drama
Think back to your grade school story writing days. When you were learning to write, it was always important to have a conflict or drama of some kind. I remember enjoying the use of "...but suddenly...." to infuse some chaos into my narratives and allow the resolution of a conflict to take shape.
Conflict is what makes the story interesting.
Now, I'm not saying to go and create a HUGE drama where you were minding your own business on a school field trip, were bitten by a radioactive spider, became a superhero then saved humanity, but I AM saying to highlight a challenge you faced which also fits in with your story's who and why/what.
Were you struggling to figure out how to write amazing copy for your website? Maybe you were super lame and boring and no one wanted to read your blogs? Maybe you kept breaking your reeds right before a performance, so you came up with an incredible reed storage device that prevented you from being able to be clumsy. Even a little bit of a story about how you faced a challenge then overcame it can entice the reader to listen more closely.
Facing challenges makes you human, and at the end of the day, you're a human reaching out to other humans. So don't be afraid to show a little bit of what brought you to this place in your story - why you're writing and how you believe your story and experiences can help others.
Keep it simple
Finally, keep it simple.
There's a reason TED talks have 18 minute time limits. Stories that are TOO long don't sell. They're tedious and can be full of unnecessary descriptors. Check this out - Chris Anderson (curator of TED) said "By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to think about what they really want to say.”
Make your point clear, easy to read and understandable.
BONUS: Practice makes perfect
Just like in music, the more you practice, the better you get.
Don't just write your story once. Practice it, change it, try it again.
The more you work it, the better it will be!