Unravel the WHY that hooks your audience and get the attention of the right people and help you grow an audience that you can fascinate.
Have you ever asked yourself why your life matters? Why you do what you do and how that impacts the lives of others? How the experiences you’ve made influence your business and how you help your clients? What you do exceptionally well and how that helps others to achieve their goals?
In fiction writing, the backstory explains how people became a hero or a villain. Their backstory explains the reasons for their intentions – why they do what they do. It tells the story of how they gained their “superpowers” and dives into the circumstances under which they became heroes or villains.
Stories are about transformation, about identity, motivations, differences, about the core of the hero’s existence and how that defines the hero’s personality.
Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider which transferred special powers to him. These powers allow him to become a superhero or a supervillain. Influenced by his experiences and his core motivations, he chooses to be a superhero.
On a slightly different scale – you also possess superpowers – your strengths, talents, and passions. You’ve also made experiences that have shaped you and that define your WHY. Your talents and experiences have shaped you. They’ve made you who you are and inform the choices you make. They define WHAT you do and HOW you help your clients.
In his famous TED talk Simon Sinek explains why it is your WHY that sells.
And you’ll find your WHY in your stories. Your stories are an inseparable part of you. They feed into your values and beliefs – and that’s the touchpoint where your clients connect with you.
They connect with you through the stories that you tell – the stories that they live through you. Reading a story is a co-creative process. When you draw your audience into your story, you draw them into your world, they synchronise their emotions with your emotions.
Your audience cries with you, feels your desperation, your moments of joy and hope…
That’s why you cry when Robin William’s pupil commits suicide in “Dead Poets Society” or when Emma Thompson realises in “Love Actually” that her husband is having an affair.
Stories create a hotwire into your audience’s brains and their emotions.
And that’s where your audience is making its buying decisions.
Yes, your story matters! And yes, telling your story probably makes you vulnerable but it also makes you very human and relatable.
Your audience wants to know your story, even if you believe that there’s nothing to tell or that your story is not relevant to their decision of working with you.
Believe me – your story matters – and here’s how you can discover it:
As children, we do those things that bring us pleasure, things that are easy for us and that we are good at.
A good starting point is to dig out a photo of you when you were about 7-10 years old. Take some time to reflect and think of the child you were then.
What did you love doing? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What did you dream of? How were you different to the other children, to your siblings? Were there any significant moments that you experienced that may still have an influence on how you live your life today?
Just let you mind flow and write down everything that comes to your mind.
As teenagers, we spent hours doing what we love. We do what sets our soul on fire and we forget time when we do what we love.
How did you spend your time as a teenager? What did you love and could do for hours without realising how time went by?
Think of your favourite subjects at school, how you spent your weekends maybe even what your parents despaired over.
Our teenage passions often give us a clue to what we love doing, what comes natural to us.
Then reflect on those things that you loved doing and think about why you loved them. What was it that fascinated you?
Or what was the moment you discovered that there is something that fascinates you.
Recently, one of my clients told me that as a teenager, she just hung out with her friends and that there was nothing special she was interested in.
But then she realised that as a teenager, she discovered something new that totally fascinated her. It was during a trip to the library that she came across some books she found interesting and reading those, she discovered the world of psychology that held her captive since that day.
Finding your backstory is about finding those traits, moments, values, talents that become part of your personality and that drive your learning and experiences.
It’s ok if you don’t find your “call” early on in your life. I found mine quite late, but until I finally found my “call” I felt that something was missing, that I was not quite on the right track.
It does not matter so much when you find what you were meant to do – it is important that you stay open-minded, question yourself and reflect on your current situation – and most importantly – question your current situation if you feel that you are not in the right place.
Have you ever stopped reading a book because the story didn’t captivate you? Or have you switched channels because a movie was boring?
That’s because as humans we instinctively know what makes a good story although we might not be able to name what exactly that is.
Joseph Campbell was the first to come up with the concept of the hero’s journey and described an archetypal journey going back to Carl Jung’s work of the subconscious mind.
Campbell’s theory is the common template of stories of a hero who goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed or transformed.
This pattern applies – in different variations – to every story we hear, read, watch…
And this pattern also contains one major or multiple challenges that the hero has to face.
In business, that is the problem your clients are struggling with. That is the problem that your story is about and to which you have discovered a solution that helps your clients solving their problem.
Depending on your problem and on the nature and purpose of your solution, you can choose a storyline – basically an outline of your story.
As you might have guessed, there’s more than one…
Campbell also identified 7 archetypal story patterns that are “pre-programmed” into our minds. And each pattern has a certain purpose.
Let me give you an example:
Oliver Twist is a typical “Rags to Riches” story. A success story about working hard, beating the odds and rising to your true purpose.
You start from a difficult place, go through tough times but have aspirations that will lead you to live a better life.
When you tell a “Rags to Riches” story, you connect with people who have experienced a difficult start – and your actions, your story will inspire and motivate your audience to take action and follow their dreams.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a brilliant example of this storyline. His story is about an immigrant child building an empire from his father’s small corner shop – and this story inspires heaps of entrepreneurs.
Other storylines are resonating with…
So, what is your life’s purpose? What is your brand purpose? Figure that out and you can pick a story line that works for you.
With a story line you already have the outline for your story that you need to fill with details from your life and details that your audience can resonate with.
When telling a story, the purpose is to draw your audience into your story and let them co-create your story in their minds.
That means that they need to imagine themselves in your place.
When choosing the details, events, feelings, obstacles, struggles, and successes for your story, you need to be conscious of your target audience and their reality.
You want your story to be relatable. You want your audience feel understood and tell themselves “that’s me – she totally gets me!”
That means that you have to insert details into your story that your audience has experienced and can relate to.
One of my clients organises mother-daughter retreats and her story about not having had a memorable time with her mother stopped me in my tracks because I often feel that vacuum. My mother died far too early and I am living with the regret of not having had enough time with her. Time is something that I can never get back.
But what I can do, is creating memories with my daughter while I have the time - now.
All that is left to do now is for you to tell your story. But before you go all in and publish your story everywhere – test your story with the right target audience. Talk to some existing and past clients, and tell them your story. See if they engage with your story, start telling you’re their story because they get inspired and want to share their story with you.
If that’s the case, then you know that you are on the right track.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful marketing tools that we have at our disposal. Not using it is like leaving money on the table.
Even if you think that you have no story to tell – think again and imagine how the power of your story could help you reaching your ideal customers.
Stories help you “filter” your audience and if you tell your story right, this story will attract the right audience and resonate with them. Your story will trigger emotions and draw people into your world.
And what’s more – your story will get the attention of the right people and help you grow an audience that you can fascinate until they are ready to work with you.
At the beginning I said – your story matters.
It does. Not only with attracting clients but also with achieving greater clarity about yourself and your business.
If you want to tell your story but don’t know how – send me a message and I will work with you to discover and write your story.
Your story matters and is worth listening to – because your story can change lives!
Or if you want to learn more about business storytelling in general - then you can check you my business storytelling course here!