I’ve been involved in online marketing for more than 12 years and
it has only recently hit me like a ton of bricks that I’ve a made
a fundamental mistake in my marketing. You see, I’ve taken on my
task like a lecturer (maybe because I taught for so many years)
and therefore outside of my subject. All my emails read like
from an instructor teaching a class revealing little about my own
personality and life philosophy. I always saw many other
marketers who would often weave in their own life and family
stories when they wanted to make a point, but I felt that was
personal and who would want to know about my boring life anyway.
I go to church twice a week, don’t eat anything with a face, have
one wife and five children who are all homeschooled—I mean, no
wild parties, movie going, alcohol consumption—talk about Victorian
Then it eventually dawned on me that most of my clients chose me
because they thought that they connected with me on a personal
level. For those same boring lifestyles that I may have
accidentally revealed, those were the same reason why they chose
me. Not because they always thought that I was the best in the
field but because they somehow “liked” me.
Only recently I have been thinking about storytelling and
personality in marketing and realized that I may have missed the
boat for all those 12 years! Even in my blog posts and emails I
didn’t share anything of my personal life and philosophies. I
saw this being done by many other marketers and copywriters but I
simply shied away from this approach. But especially as an
entrepreneur you are really selling yourself and not just the
products that you offer.
Recently while attending a marketing seminar one of the
presenters, a 25 year veteran direct marketer, told how he had an
alcoholic problem and was so afraid that if his clients found out
they would dump him. But he decided against his own good
judgment to share this story with his list. To his surprise he
had the opposite results. They actually became more endeared to
him instead. He said that he was shocked! I guess that humans
are really comfortable in dealing with other flawed human beings
and they want to know that you are more than a “teacher”,
“professor” “guru” but that you have the same human struggles as
they have as well.
The bottom line is that you have to sell your story.
Now you may think that your story doesn’t really match the
product that you sell. But stories are what do the selling in
every area of life. It is often said that people hire who they
like, they also buy from who they like. And the only way that
clients can like you is to know you—to know your story.
Here is another interesting observations I made from watching a
couple seasons of American Idol. Often I found that those who
made it to the top ten were not necessarily those with the best
talent but with the most touching stories. Even the producers of
such reality shows are looking for the story behind each
contestant and capitalize on this in order to keep viewership
Politicians tell their stories. Companies tell their stories.
Apple has becomes well known for telling the story behind their
products development as a marketing strategy.
Of course this doesn’t mean that you have to give the personal
details of your life. You still have to respect your own
privacy, so some things will remain personal and private but you
don’t have to hide in the dark thinking that your product has
nothing to do with your personal life.
And you don’t have to please everybody either. You don’t have to
get everybody to love you in order to make a successful business.
But when people know the principles on which you stand they tend
to respect you more, even when they don’t agree with those
principles. I think it was Bill Cosby who said that he only
needed 1% of America to love him in order to be a successful
So as boring as you may think your life is, there is a
“I-can’t-believe-that-happened-to-you-too” prospect waiting out
there to hear your story.
So tell it. Sell it.
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