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Use storytelling to simplify your firm’s message and move prospects to action

Nov 29, 2019

brad burton xerocon

Storytelling isn’t all about you.

Before we get into specific tips on how to use the storytelling framework, it’s important to understand the power of story doesn’t mean the power of your story.

It’s not about filling your website with your firm’s story. Don’t fall into the ‘me, me, me’ trap of trying to be more personable and only telling your own story. 

The truth is your prospects don’t care about you.

It doesn’t mean they’re nasty selfish people, and it’s not to say they won’t care about you when they become a client and get to know you personally. It doesn’t mean you won’t have opportunity later to talk more about you and your firm. 

But most business owners aren’t out strolling around the digital landscape just looking for a nice accountant to befriend. 

They’re looking for help, for answers, for a solution to a problem, for motivation. When they come to you, they’re busy caring about themselves:

  • Their lives
  • Their business
  • Their family
  • Their money
  • Their survival
  • Their success

Make the marketing story all about the prospect.

Your prospects make sense of the world through storytelling

 

We all do! The power of story isn’t some great new hack or marketing secret – it’s science. Stories have been central to human existence since the advent of writing. Our brains respond to a narrative because we learn, connect and relate through stories. They’re embedded deep in our social nature. 

Anyone who was at Xerocon London a couple of weeks ago (or any of the Xerocon events worldwide this year) will have experienced first hand how stories can affect us.

 

For those who weren’t at Xerocon London, let me briefly explain the significance of the Lurpak tweet above. 

Motivational speaker Brad Burton gave an energetic talk about maximising happiness and making better decisions. 

He encouraged the crowd to start living life to the fullest by just saying yes to the things that will bring us joy – the things we’ve been procrastinating on.

“Life is too short for cheap own-brand spreads” he said, “Buy the Lurpak”. 

His revelations got a  resounding knowing laugh from the crowd. How did he knowwww? Because he’d been there, not buying the Lurpak, himself. And what happened when attendees got home from Xerocon? Tiger bread was bought. Lurpak was spread. Many good lunches were had.What Brad did during his thirty minute talk was use the power of storytelling to move the crowd to action:

  • He acknowledged the way many people are feeling and acting right now
  • He told his own story as a cautionary tale 
  • He showed us how to avoid the same failures and make a change
  • He gave us a specific call to action – #buythelurpak

Think about how simple Brad’s story was, and the kind of impact it had. 

This storytelling structure echoes the principles in a brilliant book by Donald Miller called ‘Building a StoryBrand’, also the current book on the PF team reading list. Adopting these principles in your firm will help your prospects get to their Lurpak moment quicker. 

Your prospect is the hero of the story

 

As the Storybrand book says, your prospects are the hero of the story, and you are the trusty guide. This is the framework you want to follow:

  1. There’s a hero (your prospect, the business owner)
  2. The hero has a problem
  3. The hero meets a guide (you)
  4. The guide has a plan
  5. That plan calls the hero to action
  6. The hero avoids failure and finds success

So, how do you use this framework to hone your story and help your hero?

 

1. Create a simple structured message you can communicate fast 

 

If you’re not able to communicate what you do, simply and quickly, you’ll lose your prospect’s attention. ‘Confusing is losing’ is my favourite phrase from the Storybrand concept, because it’s easy to remember, but more importantly, crucial to remember. 

When I say ‘communicate what you do’ I’m talking about what you really do. 

Not tax, not advisory, not a menu of services – those are the practices that provide what you really do. 

A builder doesn’t just create blueprints and construct houses. They provide security, wealth, warmth, status. They give you a lifelong asset. 

What you do you do for your hero? 

You can use the storybrand structure to help you hone your message:

You help [hero] to solve [problem] by guiding them through a [plan] for [success]. 

Once your message is clear, share it with the whole team so that it’s communicated company wide. Your message will still be confusing to your prospects if your people are confused about what it is. 

If you need help at this point: Not sure who your hero is, or how to find your message before you can simplify it? Your brand might be communicating the wrong message to the people you want to target. A brand workshop with PF will help you figure out who you are, who you serve and how tell the whole story to your target audience. 

 

2. Review your website and make sure your home page communicates your message

 

With your clarified message in mind, take a look at your current website. 

  • Is your message on the website at all, in any form?
  • Is it clear?
  • Does the rest of the website follow the same story?

This has been the focal point of our recent Accelerator sessions, as we review our members’ existing sites and show them how to simplify. Your website in its simplest form needs to tell your prospect three things:

  • What you sell
  • How it makes their life better
  • How to buy 

Once you’ve reviewed your current site, decide whether your core pages are still relevant to your message, open up a document and make a note of the core content that needs to be on each page. 

It becomes a lot easier to structure the content on your website when you know your message and can use it as a basis to help you tell the whole story. Remembering that as the guide (not the hero), you can walk your prospect through these three core elements (what you sell, how it makes their life better, how to buy) by showing your understanding of their struggles, how you will help them overcome those struggles, and what action they need to take (the Lurpak moment).

If you need help at this point: Become an Accelerator member! Our next intake is in February, but you can sign up now in preparation. Taking a website workshop is also an option if you’re confident you’ve nailed your brand and message but your website really isn’t showing it. At the end of the website workshop you’ll have a clearly defined website structure complete with the core messages and calls to action. 

 

3. Ask a client for their story of transformation and create a case study

 

The beauty of a testimonial or case study isn’t your client sharing how much of a nice person you are. It’s great for your future prospects to know, of course. But remember, your prospect isn’t looking for a nice person to chum up to – they’re looking for a transformation. 

Now that you understand the story framework, you can encourage your existing clients to give you testimonials that speak to their story. You can feel confident writing and sharing a case study, because when you look at it from your client’s perspective, it transitions from a brag about your firm to a story of transformation. 

Here’s how you do it: 

  1. Choose a client who has had a positive experience and says kind things about the impact you have had on their life. 
  2. Ask them a set of questions that will help to draw out their story of transformation (this could be in the form of a phone call, an email, a questionnaire).
  3. Write up the the case study using the storybrand framework. Remember it’s not about your expertise, it’s about your hero, who had a problem, and how you (the guide) had a plan…
  4. Add the Case Study to your websiteYou could upload the case study as a one off blog, or create a landing page you can link to on the rest of your website. 

If you need help at this point: If you know your message and it’s on your website, it’s time for a marketing planning workshop. This is where we identify all the marketing actions you need to take to get the best results for your firm. 

You’re already transforming the lives of the people you serve. Use this framework to show people the difference you can make in their lives. 

Spread your own Lurpak message. Go!