Online training for ambitious entrepreneurs

The ingredients of a great story

You need to tell your unique story. So what are the key ingredients? Developing your “behind-the-scenes” story is one of the most powerful and valuable things you can do for your business or organisation, writes Robert Clay of Marketing Wizdom.

If you don’t have a compelling story to tell, one that explicitly sets out everything you do and how and why you do it—and very few businesses do by the way—then there’s a very good chance that everyone in your business will have a different response to a simple question like “why should I buy from you?” That’s because everyone probably sees and buys into your product, service or expertise in different ways.

If no two people inside your business can describe what you do in the same way, or if they can’t answer a question that everyone is likely to ask in the same way, or they don’t all see what you do in the same way, they’re singing from different song sheets, and you’ve got a problem.

It’s even worse when your clients or potential clients get different stories from different people they speak to. This sends out an inconsistent and confused message, and when clients or prospects are confused by the message, they simply go elsewhere.

Putting together the right “behind-the-scenes” story will allow everyone in your team to understand and communicate what you do from the same perspective. It will allow everyone to buy into your values and deliver according to those values. It will often promote passion for what you do. And it should form the basis for virtually every marketing message you’ll ever need to communicate.

What makes a good “behind-the-scenes” story?

It may only be ink on paper, but your story, properly constructed, has the power to do nothing less than transform people’s perception of your business. So let me now explain what makes a good “behind-the-scenes” story.

It should be addressed specifically to your prime target audience, and no one else, and must be compelling, interesting and engaging to them specifically.

Its primary aim is to give your prime target audience the clarity, understanding and motivation they need to desire, embrace, buy into and actively seek out your product, service or expertise … then act on it and keep coming back to you again and again.

This can be achieved by educating your readers about the benefits or outcomes of your product or service and anticipating and overcoming any concerns they might have about you or your industry.

And it is crucial to provide proof in support of your claims to give your audience peace of mind and eliminate any doubts they may have about your product or service.

Who should your story be aimed at?

Before you can write your story you must be very clear as to who and where your prime target audience is. There is no point in aiming at people on the fringe who may, someday, perhaps, possibly be interested in your product, service or expertise. That will just dissipate your energies to little or no effect.

Your story should therefore focus solely on satisfying the wants, needs and desires of your prime target audience. As such it must connect immediately, clearly, powerfully and directly to that audience, and to no one else.

Those people should immediately identify that they’ve found an important answer or outcome they’re seeking, backed up with as many tangible, compelling and meaningful reasons as possible as to why they’ll benefit if they move forward and do business with you.

How do you achieve the desired effect?

Your story’s first job is to grab the reader’s attention. The headline and opening copy should contain a specific benefit, promise or outcome that the reader greatly desires so that they have a compelling reason for reading on.

You therefore need to demonstrate awareness of your audience’s problems, needs or concerns and the outcomes they’re seeking. Believe it or not, hardly anyone wants to buy your product or service, whereas large numbers of people could be very interested in achieving the outcomes provided by your product, service or expertise.

The desired outcomes will vary enormously from one product or service to another, but could include some of the following: Results; solutions; benefits; answers; enhancements; improvements; reliability; time-saving; convenience; avoidance of pain; elimination of worry or fear; freedom; protection; safety; economy; pleasure; enjoyment; happiness; prestige; health; popularity; better appearance; more self-confidence; risk reduction; comfort; pride of ownership … or indeed many others.

Once you’ve got your readers’ attention your next task is to deepen their interest by packing your story with a continuous barrage of features, advantages and benefits. In doing so, you should never talk about the features of your product or service without mentioning the advantages and benefits as well.

Once you’ve gained your reader’s interest, your story needs to increase their desire. You do this by educating them about what you do on a far higher and deeper level than any of your competitors do. This requires you to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and anticipate and answer every possible objection to your product, service or industry. You need to overcome their concerns and show them exactly how they can achieve the outcomes they’re seeking.

You must lead your reader step by step through all the arguments for and against what you do and set out in explicit and compelling detail what you do, how you do it and why you do it at every point along the way to overcome each of their concerns.

As your target audience read your story they should be able to clearly visualise every step in the process until they can see themselves achieving their desired outcomes. It should therefore paint a word picture that takes the reader ahead into the future, helping them to experience everything about your product or service in their mind, before they experience it in reality.

What, how and why

You need to explain WHAT you do and HOW you do it: How you select your team members; how you and your team are trained or gained your experience; how your products or services are created; how you choose your suppliers or the components of your product or service; how your product or service performs more advantageously, beneficially or tangibly for your clients than the alternatives; how you share, appreciate and embrace your client’s vision; how you’re still there for your them after the transaction has been completed.

It’s just as important to explain WHY you do things in certain ways; why what you do is in your clients’ best interests; why your product or service performs better for the client; why your product or service is more appropriate, superior or desirable for your client than someone else’s; why your product or service is priced the way it is; why it will help the reader in their life or their business; why they should buy from or do business with you; why they should put their faith in your product, service or company; why they should act today.

It is also important to construct layer upon layer of comparable value, contrast and measurable ways in which readers can see the benefit, the intrinsic value and worth of your product or service.

The entire thrust of your story should be focused on your prospect’s interests. It should advise and guide them and provide meaningful recommendations, suggestions, counsel, direction and advice on everything they need to do to solve their problems and achieve the outcomes they’re seeking.

People need proof

Finally, and most importantly, your story should give its readers complete peace of mind. Every claim should be quantified and backed with proof, endorsements and testimonials. People are wary these days, and with good reason. Claims alone are not enough. They must be backed by solid proof. So you’d better provide it.

Create a story that does all of these things and use elements of it in every marketing activity you engage in and you’ll never be short of business as long as people are seeking the outcomes you can deliver.

Please share your thoughts and add your questions to the comments below. I’ll try to provide as many answers as possible in my future online videos, seminars, workshops, masterclasses and blog posts.

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