How to Use Your Story to Help You Sell Your Stuff
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my many years as a serial entrepreneur, it’s that no matter who you are or what you sell, your target market doesn’t want to be marketed to. (Even if they really need what you have to sell!)
Your audience and your customers are a smart bunch, and they can see through all of that marketing jargon.
Building connection, trust, and goodwill with your audience is not easy. I get that. Even those of us with the best of intentions, who KNOW who and how and why we can help, can struggle to explain that — so we fall back on the many marketing tactics littering the Internet.
“Write captivating headlines!”
“Add a call-to-action!”
“Experiment with Facebook ads!”
Some are good tactics and some are not, but none of them truly show your audience YOU.
So regardless of the tactic you choose, you must find a way to incorporate your story — the authentic story of who you are and why you do what you do.
A lot of business advice will tell you to focus solely on your target market in your marketing: what are their needs, their fears, their desires? And that’s fantastic advice. But the “About Page” is the most popularly-visited page on every website for a reason — people love a good story, too. It’s what draws them in; it’s what helps them connect with you over the hundreds or thousands of other people who offer similar things.
Your people want to know who you are and what you do and, perhaps most importantly, why you do it.
But there’s a catch.
They don’t want to know this stuff about you because they care about you. They want to know this stuff about you to determine if you can help them solve a problem they’re having.
So, even your story isn’t going to be about you, through your audience’s context. It’s going to be about them. And that’s an important point to remember.
Dale Carnegie once said: “The great truths of the world have often been couched in fascinating stories.” So, what’s yours? Truly, I want you to ask yourself that question: What is my story? And even more importantly, HOW CAN IT HELP SOMEONE ELSE?
Pull out your notebook and make two columns. Over the top of the first column, write “ME”. Over the top of the second column, write “THEM”. And then write these exact questions down and answer them from the perspective of the ME and THEM paradigms:
- Who am I? (Who am I, to MYSELF? Who am I, to my AUDIENCE?)
- What do I do? (What do I think I do? What does my audience think I do?)
- Why do I do it? (Why does this help me? Why does this help my audience?)
Spend some time scribbling down the first words that come to your mind and your heart when you ask yourself these questions. Remember that there are no wrong answers.
That’s your story.
Here, I’ll give you an example from my own heart and mind:
- Who am I?
I’m Whitney English, a wife, mama of three, and founder of the best-selling planner, Day Designer. To my audience, I’m an encouragement, an inspiration, and someone who’s willing to admit I don’t have it all together, but I’m trying.
- What do I do?
I help other creatives and business owners design a life that is authentic and aligns with their values. To my audience, I offer innovative planner products and business strategy advice.
- Why do I do it?
I do it because these acts honor and highlight my strengths, and use the knowledge I’ve gained through experience. For my audience, I’m working to help each of us live our own version of our best life. And I believe we’re all better, happier people just for trying.
That’s my story.
Of course, these from-the-heart scribbles (both mine and yours) might not be exactly the story you share with your future customers. You don’t necessarily have to slap this draft copy up on your website. And that’s okay — you’ve just got to start from the heart. From there, you can follow the tenets of good storytelling (Start with a good hook! Show, don’t tell! Add some conflict! Appeal to emotion! Include a resolution!) to perfect and polish the story that you share.
You story still needs to speak to the specific way your experience relates to the people you’re hoping to reach.
Who are you writing for and what do they want (or need) to hear about you?
Remind yourself that you know this audience well — you were likely in their shoes at one point. What part of your life or your journey do they need to hear to be sold on you? Add that to the story you’ve started writing — then start sharing it with the world.
If you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear:
What’s your story?
Whitney, this is so helpful! Thanks for sharing!
Love this. People don’t buy your product or service, they buy why you do it.
This is great, thank you for the advice!
I love this, thank you for sharing your heartstrings!
Whitney, this is such great advice and timely. I’ve been wanting to update my about page, but have been putting it off because I wasn’t sure how to approach it. This advice couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Thanks so much!
Great advice, so glad I found your blog. I didn’t realize you had two planner sites. Wonderful blog!