In the world of marketing and business, we often hear about the need to tell our story in the sense of positioning us as experts in our field – indeed, it seems today, people value a good positioning story above the more traditional CV that documents our experience.
There’s an idea that facts tell and stories sell, and if you look at the majority of the most influential people they all have one thing in common – they can tell stories that connect with people, and the fundamental strand of this connection is a “shared experience” and a similarity with the audience.
Think of it this way, who would you connect with more when looking to work with a lawyer:
The person that received the highest grade possible and went to the best university to study law, and has successfully represented many families as a birth injury lawyer and asserts their credentials in terms of cases won, and grades achieved, or someone that has the same credentials but connects with their audience through a story, perhaps a sensitive and emotional story that shows they understand the struggle of their audience based on a personal struggle and subsequent success in overcoming this struggle.
The point being that facts tell, stories sell, and this is true of all interactions. If you’re on a date and someone lists out their interests, hobbies or work experience – it’s flat and boring – they are trying to communicate who they are but are failing to connect on an emotional level, because as humans we don’t operate from a place where we purely consider facts – we are emotional beings and operate emotionally, meaning we operate from a place where we respond to the emotional context of facts.
In this sense, you need to start getting good at “telling your story”. Now, most people won’t want to listen through your life story, but they will want to receive the highlights, and to understand why you are where you are and do what you do.
This is particularly true if you are in the business of content marketing. There’s so much content out there today, all vying for your attention, that it can be hard to stand out and gain a following.
The one thing that will catalyse your growth is your ability to connect with your audience, and there’s no better way to connect with your audience than through a compelling positioning story, that positions you as an expert in your field.
So, let’s take a look at the phases of a positioning story:
You want to ask a question to your audience that hooks them into your world, and pre-frames the story you are about to tell as being relevant to their life. This question wants to be one that most people can relate to, for instance, “have you ever woken up one morning and just wanted to stay in bed”… as you want to build agreement, but at the same time, it must be relevant about your subject.
This is where you explain your desire, or dream, or a solution that you were searching for (which, just happens to be the same struggle your audience face and that you help them solve).
People connect with struggle, much more than success, and by sharing your struggle you not only align with the struggle your audience faces but you allow yourself to be vulnerable which in turn breeds trust and authority – as you are putting your trust in the audience with this vulnerable story, meaning they are more likely to put their trust in you to help solve their problems.
This is where you highlight the success you had, and how you got to that point, how you broke through to the other side and obtained what you were in search of.
This is where you frame your expert positioning, as now that people have connected with you on the basis they can relate with your struggle, see you as human, and care about you due to the trust and rapport that has been established – you can now talk about what you do, without it feeling like a sales pitch.
In summary, the power of telling your story, and using personal stories within your content is one of the most potent things you can do to enhance your status and build loyal fans. The reason for this is because you are connecting with your audience on the same level rather than ‘above them’ and sharing your journey to inspire them – rather than telling them what to do.