How stories can make you fall in love with your clients (and business)
Updated: Jan 14
He entered the kitchen with a charming smile. “Nadja, now I’m getting it! I’m the guide who helps my clients succeed. I’m like Aragon in The Lord of the Rings, helping Frodo save the Shire. But my job is to liberate the beautiful princess Anna from the prison of her negative thoughts, so she can become a queen. You should ask all your clients to take a walk in the woods!”
I smiled. The process was working.
Steven is a trained therapist about to launch his new business after two decades of working in IT. It had burned him out, and he was ready for a 180-degree career change. He longed to share his deepest heart’s gift with the world, working with people he cared about, helping them thrive by getting over old patterns and limiting beliefs.
He’s brilliant at what he’s doing and has success stories to prove it. Yet he wasn’t comfortable marketing his work in the world. He wasn’t sure how to craft his offering, and he didn’t have a compelling brand story to inspire him to take action.
After receiving one of my emails, he wrote back. He needed website copy, which I could help him write. But what he needed most was a compelling brand story that would form the basis of everything he does.
Cos promoting your great work isn’t so much about you--it’s about how you can help. That’s what most entrepreneurs are getting wrong. They position themselves as the hero in their customer’s lives because they believe that this will make them look professional, competent, and trustworthy.
But the opposite is true.
Every entrepreneur needs to position themselves as the empathic guide to their customers, leading them on in their journey to success. (Like Aragon helped Frodo destroy the ring.)
Think of brands you love.
Take Nike, for example. They’re not just selling shoes. Their brand story does not revolve around how amazing their products are. Their marketing celebrates the athlete within you, providing you with the right products you need to succeed. I use their free workout apps regularly, and you bet it will make me choose Nike next time I need a new pair of leggings.
This holds true for you too -- whether you’re a multi-billion dollar enterprise or a one-woman shop.
If you’re positioning yourself (on your website, your emails, your social media posts) as the hero to your clients, making it all about you and your greatness, people will be turned off. Make it all about your customer and how you can help them, and clients will love you forever.*
Once Steven had understood this, he was more passionate about his mission than ever.
During the 1:1 brand consulting intensive for which he’d come up to my house, we’d spent a whole day diving deep into the mind of his dream client. We explored who this woman is, what her deepest fears and longings are, and what’s holding her back in life. What stories is she telling herself?
Once we’d gotten clear on that, we positioned Steven as her empathic guide, so he could help her have a more fulfilled life.
But why are stories so powerful for business?
Stories boost oxytocin. Brain scientists at Berkley found that this tiny neurochemical is responsible for empathy and a process called narrative transportation.
Annie Neimand, Ph.D., writes that narrative transportation is “a sign of a great story, and it is also a powerful tool for driving attitude change. Whether it is fiction or a true story, when people become immersed in a story, the experiences they have in the world of the characters become their own and can serve as an anecdote for their beliefs.”
As we sat down the following morning to wrap up our intensive, Steven’s eyes were sparkling with passion. “I’m blown away,” he said. “This was amazing! Before, I avoided posting on Instagram because I wasn’t sure whom I was writing to. Now I know that everything I create is to help Anna have a better life. Every podcast I record is all to help her move closer to happiness. I can’t wait to move forward!”
Being an entrepreneur is all about helping others. When you promote your services as a bodyworker, life coach, or therapist, you should be thinking about what you can do for them that will help them transform and into a better version of themselves.
As I was cleaning up and reflecting on what we’d done together my iPhone pings. It’s a message from Steven.
"Nadja, thank you so much for being my guide... feeling so grateful at this moment driving home."
This is what drives me.
Whenever I feel uninspired, I think of Steven and all the other caring and conscious entrepreneurs like you, who have so much to give but don’t always know how to communicate with impact.
Do you also want to that feel this confident and passionate, helping your clients win the day while making good money doing what you love?
Write and tell me about your business! What are you struggling with, and what do you desire to create?
I’m currently booking clients for 2021. If you want a spot on my calendar, fill in this application form and we'll talk.
I can’t wait to get my hands on your business. ;)
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*I first heard about storytelling in business when reading Donald Miller's classic book Building A Story Brand, which I love.