My Turning Point Story ... With a Twist
Years ago, I attended a marketing workshop where we were taught to "hook" our audiences, to draw them in, and to show that we were trustworthy, authentic, and credible by creating a "Turning Point Story."
The "Turning Point Story" is told when we introduce ourselves, and the plot takes place during a time in our lives when we were down on our luck, going astray, lost, confused, or hopeless. The plot has a twist where we miraculously stumble upon the solution that changed it all (and surprise - it's the same solution we offer our clients!) and then we went on to live happily ever after.
During the workshop, and for months after, I struggled writing out that dang story. I could have drawn on any time in my life that took a downward turn - like the time that I was working 80 hours a week as a manager and was on the brink of burnout, or the time that I got divorced, or the time that I started my own business with a severance check, a hope, and a prayer. But I couldn't turn these stories into a dramatic plot twist - it just felt too forced. These were just events in my life that I had to go through to get to where I am today. I would never change a thing about my life. I made some mistakes along the way - but don't we all? We all would get a better personal time in the obstacle course of life if we got a second run through.
Fast forward, about a year later, I went on a wilderness retreat. The Wilderness Guide that was leading our group told us about his experience, how many expeditions he's led, and reassured us that he was a confident and competent leader. By the end of his introduction, rich with stories of his adventures, I think I would have followed this guy into the gates of hell knowing I'd be safe and I'd have a good time.
If that guide had said, "Before I was a Registered Maine Guide, I was just like you, I'd get lost getting out of a paper sack"... If he had told us all about his trials and tribulations, all his near misses, all the times that he struggled, I would have hopped in my car and looked for the first Motel 6. It was then I decided I was never meant to have a turning point story, a "hero's journey" or any other part of my biography that instilled doubt or fear into my audience - and neither should you!
When you get in front of your prospective clients, if you have a "rags to riches story" or a personal triumph story - by golly, inspire your audience with it! If you went from earning $1000 a year, to $1000 a day, and your ideal client finds that inspirational, sure - share that! If you came back from the brink of death, and are now living, breathing, and exuding perfect health - shout that from the mountaintops! But if you are like the rest of us, your story may be pretty ho-hum and bland. You plodded along, made a few mistakes along the way, and now are at a place where you feel the hike was worth the view, Don't feel you have to come up with a daring tale of how you fought off bears, creditors, or risk of life or limb to get there. Simply turn around, and show others the way.
Another danger of relying on a Turning Point Story or a Hero's Journey to attract your ideal clients is sometimes they cause more harm than good. Comparisons of our own journey to someone else's can leave us with feelings of "not good enough" or "I'll never be able to do that." As a coach, I am very protective of my client's self-esteem and mental health. Building a relationship based on a story of my own success or relief of a problem may just be a set up for a huge letdown.
Help your client be their own hero.
When crafting a content marketing strategy to attract your ideal clients, don't fall into the marketing trap that we must hook our ideal clients by playing up our own heroics. Instead, pull out your Customer Journey and determine the following:
- Who would most benefit from your products and services?
- Who wants your products and services?
(careful, sometimes the answers to these questions are NOT the same!)
- Where in the Customer Journey is your prospective client? Can you share a relatable story from a time you were in their shoes?
- What value propositions can you share that would entice someone who not only NEEDS your products and services but also will create a strong desire for your services?
Capture what REALLY matters to your clients. Demonstrate how you can help them get the results they desire.