One of my favourite stories to share with advisors is the day I got lucky, accidentally threw my “on-boarding script” out the window, shared my authentic story and changed my life.
Authenticity has become a buzzword, and for good reason. As a society, we’re faced with thousands of messages a day and we’ve become adept at weeding out the facts from the fiction, the real from the fake.
We want real.
In fact, we tune out anything that smacks of jargon or the smarmy salesman. As potential or existing customers, we’re looking for brands and companies that we can relate to, that we feel understand our needs and try to meet them, and that we trust.
Gaining and keeping trust is the major responsibility of businesses. And it’s through the crafting and telling of an authentic story that this trust relationship can build.
You need a story that you can tell that is TRUE. A story that is a statement of your values, a narrative of where you’re coming from and where you plan ongoing. Your story comes from a place of honesty and emotion, and therefore, is authentic.
Here is what happened …
When it was time for the call I was sort of ‘spaced out.’ Remember – I said I got lucky! It was late on a Friday, I had had a long week and I was exhausted. After a few opening comments and the usual pleasantries, I settled into the call.
Only I didn’t follow my usual speaking points. Instead, I started with some of my personal details. Where I live, with whom and what we do for fun. I told these advisors what I had seen in my life that made no sense, and how that affected me and made me want to own my own business and live differently.
The whole time I was talking to them it felt unnatural. I certainly didn’t think at the time that I had figured anything out. I told them about me, what I learned, who Tom Frisby is, where he lives and what he does for fun. Then I talked about the work we do, and how we got here. What we learned along the way and who had helped us out and encouraged us and finally where we were going next.
Then as God as my witness, I stopped talking and waited for them to politely dismiss me. “Thanks, Dennis, this was, er, interesting.”
Only that isn’t what happened. Remember I told these people nothing. I didn’t talk about the work, other than in very general terms. I didn’t talk about our clients, I didn’t talk about typical results or dive into explaining why what we do is different from what anyone else does.
I just told them about me and Tom, the work we do, why we do it, what we believe and that was that.
What felt like a long time passed, in reality probably 5 seconds. Silence. Then I heard these words. “OK. This is great. What now?” I tried this a few more times, and all the advisors I spoke to hired us.
This was at least 10 years ago, I have used the same opening call to tell my authentic story since. I never looked back.
Want the same results? Ask these questions.
What were your Serious Shifts?
Think way back, there was a defining moment in your life when you identified a truth. Something critical, something overlooked, and you realized that this truth would be part of your solution.
Think hard. Where were you? What happened to trigger this realization? What was the moment that made you see this change was required?
What were your steps to success?
Process – while it may not sound sexy – is actually a very intriguing topic for many customers. How did you get here? You had an A-Ha moment, you started where? What happened? Then what?
When your audience gets a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how you built your business, or how you conduct business today, they’ll feel welcomed in and trusted, and that trust in turn becomes mutual.
What have you learned along the way?
Equally important to your story is what you’ve done right is what you’ve done wrong. Being honest about your occasional setbacks and flat-out failures shows your audience the transparency they’ll appreciate. And don’t forget to tell them what you’ve learned from these challenges. Doing so highlights your willingness to grow and improve the business thanks to some hard lessons.
You’re showing humility while also proving to customers that you’re not afraid to be continuously learning and adapting.
Who helped you get there?
Think hard about this one. Calling out the people – family, friends, mentors, staff – who helped you along the way shows your audience that people matter to you. Stories about these types of relationships can reassure your audience that they too will be treated with care, respect, and appreciation. This kind of customer relationship is essential in fostering trust with your audience.
Expansion? New product? New direction? Keeping lean? Whatever your plans, you don’t want to suggest that your story is now over. A brand story is ongoing, just like our personal journeys. There are more chapters to be written and you want your customers along for the ride.
With these questions answered, a true – and hopefully engaging – story begins to develop. It should encompass your core values so that your audience, who presumably shares these values, feels that you stand for the same things they do and that the product or service you provide is something they actually want to hear about since it will on some level improve their lives.
In this “post-truth” world, perhaps things seem uncertain. Give your customers something to rely on and someone to trust. Being your authentic self – and sharing this story as it relates to your business – should help you get there.
This was a long one, thanks for reading. I was on a roll. If you liked it then you should check out our online community, www.seriousshift.com. Everyone in the community started off as a blog reader that wanted a little more.