What’s Your Story, Morning Glory?

by Annie

in brand you, marketing your business online

Image of book with pages flying up and transforming into birds

Is your marketing story taking flight? Or just laying there like words on a page?

Every business has a story, and every website should tell that story — clearly, effectively, and emotionally. (We’re all clear on how emotions function in purchasing decisions, right?)

Yet way too many of us are still keeping our compelling stories to ourselves. Hey, I’m guilty, too. (I have reasons, though, which will soon — hopefully — cease to operate. When that happens, my story’s going to be all over this site, you betcha.)

Unless you’ve got one of Those Reasons, too, you ought to be telling your story through your blog or website.

Why Your Marketing Story Matters A Lot

Our stories are what move others to act or react. I don’t need to prove this to you — you already know it’s true. Think about it. Given any recent mega-disaster — the Japanese earthquake/tsunami, the Haiti earthquake, 9/11 — what happens after a certain amount of the 24-hour news cycle plays out before our eyes?

Our brains — and our hearts — kinda turn off. We see the images, hear the words, but the impact doesn’t sink in.

But then a day or two later, what happens? Inevitably, the round-the-clock coverage shifts, almost imperceptibly at first, from the who-what-when-where journalistic formula, covering the basics of What Happened. The statistics and the facts give way, slowly at first, to —



Personal stories.

The infant born under the rubble who miraculously survived.

The mother whose child was ripped from her arms.

The father who is desperately trying to dig out his family.

The nurse who couldn’t save all her patients, but is still working around the clock at the shell-shocked hospital, doing what she can to help others.

It’s those stories that move us to action. Those stories make us pick up the phone and text a donation, or hit the website to find out more.

So your story matters. It matters a lot. And the way you tell it matters even more.

How to Tell Your Story Better

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to jazz up your own story and tell it right. You just need to do a little bit of thinking and pre-planning.

The Audience Matters

When I was in college, working towards that speech degree, my mentor Dr. Hales got me into story-telling. He was well known in Salisbury (still is) for his storytelling abilities. He was especially busy at Christmas, and fed me some of his extra work.

So, Dr. Hales would work with me on the dialects some of the stories required (I especially loved the Cajun “Night Before Christmas” – that was fun), on my overall program, and delivery — stuff like that.

And during those coaching sessions, he taught me one thing that stands out to this day as the single best marketing advice I’ve ever heard. Ready?

“You better know your audience, and plan accordingly.”

Easy to see why, right? The same program isn’t going to work the same way at the orphanage that it did before the Kiwanis club’s Christmas party.

So figure out what stories your audience naturally gravitates towards. What moves them? What engages them? What delights them? What makes them sit back, jaw agape and eyes bugging? What sticks with them for days and makes them email their coworkers en masse?

Your Hook Matters

Now that you’re well and truly inside your audience’s head, think about your hook. If you were a TV show, this would be the logline — y’know, that one line in the TV Guide that sets up the premise and makes people go “Oh HELL yeah, I gotta TiVo that…”

Where’s your hook? I dunno. It could be anywhere. (It’s your story.) But I can give you a few suggestions on where to look:

  • It might be the part of the story that you’re most uncomfortable with.
  • Or it could be the part where even you can’t really believe that actually happened.
  • Or maybe it’s the dichotomy of You-Then and You-Now.

And, yes, your hook depends in part on your audience. (See above. Lather, rinse, repeat.)

Got the Story. Now What?

Now, go tell it.

Tell it on your About page. Tell it in your sidebar. Put it in every post (no, not verbatim — allude to it).

Let it inform every single thing you do. This is your story. This is why you do what you do. This is what tells your potential clients just how deeply you grok their pain. Because you’ve been there. Because you know. First-hand. (Or whatever.)

The point? Tell the story. Make it yours. Claim it. Own it. And share it.

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