My name is Julia McCoy and I am a college dropout. . .
Doesn’t sound very exciting until you realize that the rest of that sentence reads, “. . .who has earned over $4 million before turning 28 years old.”
Did your ears perk up? Did you suddenly think, “Hey, I bet she understands something about business that I might need to know.”
Whatever your initial impression was, if you’re like most people you got a sudden urge to pay attention to whatever I said after that sentence.
Why? Because, whether they realize it or not, everyone still loves Horatio Alger.
Horatio Alger was a well-loved American writer in the 1800s who published stories about the lives of boys who transformed their destinies through determination and hard work.
Just like I did.
Alger’s stories have had a continuing influence on American culture, a culture that is still fascinated by the type of rags-to-riches story that underlies many successful businesses.
Businesses like mine. And probably yours, too.
Our ongoing obsession with the rags-to-riches tale means your story is one of the most compelling — and powerful — pieces of content you can use to market your business and grow your brand.
Why a Founder’s Story is Pivotal to Brand Growth
Sharing the story of your success is a great way to make people love your brand by fostering a sense of authenticity and connection. When your audience feels connected, they become invested in you — the hero of the tale — and through you, your brand.
Telling a story in a strategic way helps develop high-quality content that not only strengthens customer loyalty, but improves conversions, too.
Corporate storytelling effectively requires just the right amount of emotion balanced with focused — and actionable — information that provides serious value to readers.
But it’s the emotion that drives the effectiveness of this tactic, so use it well. Dig deep through your list of aha! moments to uncover the ones that will most resonate with your audience, then tell them with an honest and compelling voice.
If revealing the heart and soul of your company through your story can move people to action, why is it that many company founders shrink from the task?
Two reasons come to mind: Either they’re not aware of the power this piece of content can have on their bottom lines or they don’t know where to start. I’ve already taken care of the first one for you, now let me tackle the second.
3 Steps to Telling Your Story for Greatest Impact
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give you relatable, actionable ways to leverage this tactic for your own content marketing purposes, so here we go
1. Start with a Hook
A great story starts with impact. Since you only have seven seconds to grab your audience’s attention, you’ll need to lead with a punch. In the language of your audience, craft a riveting first sentence that they just can’t ignore.
Example: I’m Julia McCoy and I am a college dropout who started a business that has made over $4 million.
My target audience is millennial content writers, agency professionals, and start-ups looking to grow revenue. I’m speaking in first-person in a relatable, authentic way to make that initial connection.
2. Draw them In with Results
There’s no doubt that data is important, even in the midst of an emotional story.
Data can persuade, enlighten, and lend credence to your accomplishments. After you spin an attention-getting first line, flesh out the body of your story by using data strategically to surprise your audience and get them to pay closer attention.
Example: While completely bootstrapped, with no outside funding, no family support and no safety net, my content agency, Express Writers, grew 200% in the next few years.
The first year was $50,000, and in the next few years we hit $300,000, and last year we just surpassed $650,000.
Here, I’m giving out specific details of my struggle — and the solution. Nothing is hidden — they can see the benefits of my strategies in the numbers.
3. Share Your Secret
A great story is written in a conversational, easy tone and it gives the audience one or two big ideas that are distilled in an easy-to-understand way. It inspires and motivates by providing key insights and gives a simple, but focused, formula for success.
Most importantly, a good story provides expert (that’s you!) guidance, an element your audience craves from your brand. Offer them immediate value instead of simple self-promotion and you’ll spark loyalty and trust.
Example: One of my biggest secrets is to constantly evolve. What helped grow our company in the beginning might not work today. For example, we had a terrific commissioned sales rep, but I wanted a culture of cultivating great client relationships rather than a culture chasing end-of-quarter sales quotas.
I replaced our sales rep with a content marketing expert. After a week, I checked in with one of our clients, and asked: Could you rate the difference in experience between the commissioned sales rep and our content expert? And he said that the difference was 100x better. I knew we were on the right track.
However you choose to tell your story, remember to craft it in a way that resonates with your audience. Are they six-figure executives that talk in industry terms all day? Then use executive speech and terms-of-art in your storytelling. Are they younger, fiery start-up entrepreneurs? Speak their language by telling your story as if talking to a friend over coffee.
And remember, it’s your story. Tell it like you mean it.