From the time we’re old enough to understand the spoken word, we love stories. How many children eagerly get into pyjamas and climb into bed because they’ve been promised a story?
And this love of stories doesn’t end with childhood. Why do we read novels, watch movies — and even the nightly news? Because we love to hear the stories of humanity in all their emotional range from sadness to horror to joy and laughter.
It follows, then, that if you want to grab someone’s attention you can do it most readily with a story.
What stories are you telling on your website?
In business terms, a story usually means a case study. Some sites look promising, showing a tab or a link to Case Studies. “Excellent,” I always think, “stories!” But when I go there, what do I find? Instead of intriguing tales of human interest, they turn out to be dry recitations of services the firm rendered and a few bor ing words about how pleased the client was. Yawn!
If you’re wondering if your client engagements even have any human interest, let me give you some ideas.
First, think of the client as a human being. Whether you are working with an individual owner-operator of a business or a division of a large corporation, there is a person there — someone you speak with on the phone or meet with at their office. That human being is affected in some way by the business situation that exists before you arrive, and the new situation when your work is done.
Let’s say your client is Steve, owner-operator of a chain of coffee shops. Five years ago he used his life savings to buy the franchise because he saw it as the way to safeguard his family’s future. Success would mean his son and daughter could go to university, his wife could give up her routine job to pursue her dream of writing novels and he could buy a holiday home by the ocean where they could all chill out together for a few blissful weeks each summer.
But it hadn’t turned out that way for Steve and his family. Six years in, he had expanded his empire from one to three coffee shops — and expanded his worries more like tenfold. Only the original coffee shop was making money, and not a lot. The other two were bleeding money, losing market share to competitors and showing no signs of improving any time soon.
Fortunately, Steve found you.
Your initial review of his situation showed several problems that were obvious to you (athough not to Steve), and a deeper dive brought out even more. Your experience, your professional eye and your business knowledge showed Steve several opportunities for immediate improvement as well as for long-term success in his business.
After just six months, shop number one was climbing back up to its early profit levels and above, and the other two had been partially restaffed with better employees and showed signs of dramatic turnaround. Cash was once again flowing in the right direction, and the future looked bright.
Young Daniel would be able to start his university career this year without student debt hanging over him, Jennifer could follow in a couple of years, Susan stopped having desperate thoughts of divorce and Steve was once again going to work with a smile on his face.
Now that’s a human story that would interest a potential client in working with you! “But,” you ask, “don’t we need to talk about what we did to achieve the results?” No, you don’t.
Marketing experts are fond of saying people don’t want a drill, they want a hole in the wall. But that’s only partly true. What people actually want is a wall decorated with beautiful paintings or photographs, and beyond that they want a home their friends will envy.
People don’t need to know the nitty gritty, the specific action s you took or the services you performed. Nor do they need to know all the personal details I’ve given here. But they do want to know you helped transform Steve’s life!
How many ‘Steves’ have you helped?
If you want website visitors to pick up the phone and call you, tell those stories!
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