Every story you have read and will read in the future has a few things in common. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction. It doesn’t matter why you decided to read it. And it doesn’t matter
who wrote it,
what it’s about,
when it happened,
where it took place,
why it happened,
or how it ended.
Every single story has at least one character with a problem that needs to be solved. And every single story has a beginning, middle, and ending. I think we can all agree on that. Right?
Despite most of us knowing this, I constantly see entrepreneurs and business owners leaving out the middle. You’ve probably seen it too.
These stories jump from an extremely sad, sometimes traumatic past (beginning) straight to the happy, successful present (ending) with no in-between (middle).
For most of us, there are tons of other businesses of varying sizes and levels of expertise offering the same products or services we do. While it’s true most consumers want to know more about the people behind the brands they’re considering giving their money to, that does mean they care about your entire life story.
What it does mean is your audience most likely wants to know
you care about the things they care about.
You value the things they value.
And your beliefs align with their own.
Also, people have become increasingly less trustworthy of brands than they have been in the past. This makes sharing your story, especially the middle, a great way to
set yourself apart,
let your audience know you really do understand their needs,
and show them how you bring a unique point of view and approach to your industry.
Sharing the not-so-positive feelings, failures, and challenging experiences can be just as helpful to your audience as sharing your happy moments, progress, and accomplishments. To be honest, sharing the fact that you learned, grew, and adapted over time is just as admirable as all the amazing work you’re doing now.
The middle of your story is filled with everything that can help make you more relatable and make the solution you provide feel more attainable to your audience. This is especially helpful if the solution their seeking isn’t as simple as making a purchase and instead requires work on their part too.
Again, the goal of sharing your story to promote your business isn’t to share your whole life story. Instead, the goal is to share the journey you took to get from where you were (and where your audience is right now) to where you are now (where your audience wants to be). You can do this through your brand story.
A good brand story tells people…
Who you are (You & your brand)
Who you serve (Your audience)
What you believe in (Your values)
Why you do what you do (Your mission)
How you do it differently (Your niche)
Together, these 5 pieces can help you build a relationship with each and every person in your audience.
Note: your audience may not want to be at the same level as you. I know you may not want to be a Brand Storytelling Coach like me but you do want to be a more confident storyteller so you can grow your audience!
The key to using storytelling for relationship building is to take your brand story and find every single opportunity you can to share super short stories that back it up. Those super short stories are your content — and every piece of content you share needs to be as valuable as possible to your audience.
Here are 4 types of valuable content (and super short stories) you can share!
How often do you use your story to teach your audience about your niche?
You probably already share the lessons you learned. But do you also share how you learned them and how you know those lessons will be helpful for your audience to learn them too?
Educational content helps you
build trust with your audience,
prepare potential clients to work with you,
show you’re an expert in your industry.
But educational stories can help you stand out by helping your audience save a lot of time, energy, and money you may have lost or wasted figuring things out without the support of someone like you.
Why just define a term or phrase when you can share a story about why your audience needs that thing from a more personal, emotional point of view?
Why just share your advice when you can share a story about how you learned it and how your own experiences will make it easier for them?
Why just tell people what you do when you can invite them into the story of why you do it and what they get out of it?
3 Templates for Sharing Educational Stories With Your Audience (plus examples)
What is [a term/phrase relevant to your niche] and why [your audience] needs it
What is burnout and what I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed as a busy mother of 4
What is sustainability and why it’s important for our city’s future
What is content marketing and how every small business owner can effectively use it in 2023
How you learned [something relevant to your niche], how you learned it, and why it matters
How I finally started waking up rested when I stopped using an alarm
how I learned to eat seasonally, why it’s important, and what it looks like in my restaurant
How I finally got off the content hamster wheel and how you can too
Why you [do something relevant to your niche]
Why I go to bed at 10 pm every single night (no matter what)
Why we don’t serve your favorite “health” foods in our restaurant (…it’s bad for the environment)
Why I tell all my clients to read this one book
Just remember, education doesn’t have to mean boring. So don’t be afraid to share some of your ‘funny after the fact’ stories too!
Do you share what motivates and inspires you with your audience?
Maybe you already share what motivates and inspires you. But do you also share how you felt before, during, and after achieving what you help your audience achieve?
Encouraging stories help you
show people your unique point of view.
Find the best way to explain what you do.
build trust with your audience.
Instead of plainly sharing new information, why not share a story about why you do it and how it changed you?
Instead of bluntly sharing your advice, why not share a story about how you learned to stop a habit that was holding you back and replace it with one that moved you forward?
Instead of simply sharing other people’s words, why not share a story about what your favorite quotes, sayings, and proverbs taught you?
3 Templates for Sharing Encouraging Stories With Your Audience (plus examples)
Why you quit [something relevant to your niche] and how it changed you
Why I quit trying to be supermom and how it improved my relationship with my kids
Why I quit constantly scaling up my business and how it changed how I do business
Why I quit using real flowers in my arrangements and how it helped me stand out
How you learned to stop [a common struggle relevant to your niche] and start [a technique relevant to your niche]
How I learned to stop pretending I had it all together and started asking for help
How I learned to stop trying to look like a thought leader and started being myself
How I finally stopped worrying about being affordable and started focusing on customer experience
What your favorite source of inspiration taught you about [something relevant to your niche]
What a Serena Williams’ interview taught me about my own views on motherhood
What my dad’s favorite saying taught me about living in the present and self-worth
What a trip to an art history museum taught me about my own floral design style
Just remember, encouraging someone doesn’t always mean sharing the full story. Don’t be afraid to share your favorite affirmations or mantras too!
Emotions are a bigger part of successful businesses than most people like to admit.
Maybe you already share parts of your story with your audience. But are you vulnerable with them?
Emotional stories help you
Make people feel seen, heard, and understood.
build trust with your audience.
Guide your audience to the solution they need (from you).
What if instead of telling people what you help people do, you shared a story about how you felt before you started doing it?
What if instead of pointing out all the mistakes you see people make, you shared a story about what life was like when you were making those mistakes?
What if instead of talking about mindset shifts, you shared a story about how you changed your own mindset and why you tell everybody to do one specific thing?
3 Templates for Sharing Emotional Stories With Your Audience (plus examples)
How you felt before you [something relevant to your niche]
How I felt every single day before I finally found the right therapist for my needs
How I felt before I left my six-figure engineering job behind for my side hustle
How I spent 5 years feeling like a failure because I was afraid to leave my comfort zone
What it was like to [a common struggle relevant to your niche]
What it’s really been like to overcome an eating disorder
What my first year as a full-time photographer looked like
What it was like to realize I spent thousands on equipment I never used
Why you tell everybody to [something relevant to your niche]
Why I tell every entrepreneur I meet to start practicing mindfulness
Why I tell every engineer I know to find a hobby—not a side hustle
Why I tell every creative professional to start with what they have
Just remember, we all experience a wide range of emotions. So don’t be afraid to share your happy, ridiculous, or embarrassing stories too.
Everybody loves when new information is presented to them in a unique way.
With TikTok and Reels being so popular, you probably already started finding unique or fun ways to talk about the problems you help your audience solve.
But have you found a lighthearted way to grab their attention using something they can relate to?
Entertaining stories help you
Connect with your audience in a way that doesn’t force them to confront their problems or feelings yet.
Explain something complex in a fun, simple way.
Build trust with your audience.
But entertaining stories can help you stand out using your personality and sense of humor. They can also help you appear more relatable to your audience.
Instead of simply sharing helpful advice, why not share a story about how you realized you misunderstood something important?
Instead of bluntly telling people what they’re doing wrong, why not share a story about the day you knew you were tripping about something similar?
Instead of plainly spelling out how to fix a problem, why not share a story about why you laugh when you remember something you used to do?
And instead of just sharing the story, why not find ways to make it more entertaining by being yourself and using music, trending audio, or memes to keep your audience engaged?
3 Templates for Sharing Entertaining Stories With Your Audience (plus examples)
How you realized you misunderstood [something relevant to your niche]
How I realized I misunderstood my grandma’s advice about dating
How I realized I misunderstood why most restaurants fail in the first year
How I realized I misunderstood what legalization really meant
The day you knew you were trippin’ about [something relevant to your niche]
The day I knew I was trippin’ about how to get a rich man
The day my GM quit is the day I knew I was trippin’ about how to run my restaurant
The day I knew I was tripping about being against the decriminalization of cannabis
You laugh when you remember you used to [something relevant to your niche]
I laugh when I remember how I used to view divorce and ending relationships
I laugh when I remember that I used to fly to Maine to save money shipping lobsters
I laugh when I remember how loud and wrong I was about this plant having no medicinal value
3 Simple Ways to Make Your Stories More Entertaining
What feels natural to you? What makes you laugh? What grabs your attention? What makes you stop scrolling? If you think you’ll have fun creating it and putting your personality into it, do it!
Use music, trending audio, or memes.
What music would you use if your life was a sitcom? What audio are your favorite tiptoes and reels using? What memes make you giggle? If you resonate with it, save it!
Make the intro memorable.
What’s the most memorable part of the story to you? What’s the easiest part to show visually? If you can make it timely (to your audience), do it!
Just remember, making your content entertaining doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what entertaining means for you and your brand.
Sometimes you'll get lucky and your stories will be a little of all 4!
The more you share each type of story, the more you'll be able to see what resonates with your audience most. The best part is no matter which type you share, they all help you build trust with your audience in their own way!