What’s your story?

30 days. 

I want you to imagine that you have 30 days until you lose everything. Your house, your cars, your family…Everything. 

That wasn’t supposed to be me… 

But it was. 

I’m gonna tell you how I got there (so you never have to). 

In my 20’s they called me the “golden boy” because everything I touched turned to gold. At the time I was working in sales for a 50 year old plastic packaging company. I got an idea for a new division. I brought it to senior management. They said yes. 

And we moved forward.

I grew that division to 45 million in annual revenue in less than five years.

From there, I became the CEO of the first digital portrait studio chain in the United States. When we brought it into franchising, things really started to take off.

Before long, I became known as one of the young guns of franchising.

We were growing… millions upon millions in revenue, ranked one of the top 15 hot franchises by Entrepreneur Magazine by year five.

I had this formula for success all figured out. I felt unstoppable.

The only thing is, I wasn’t.

At one of the board meetings, I did what I usually did, and I laid out my plans for the upcoming quarter. Everyone usually got excited, and I went off and implemented the plan… Everyone’s happy.

But this time was different. The board said no to my next quarter plan. I was confused. I asked why, and one board member said, “Don’t forget, you work for us.”

I wasn’t blazing my own trail as I had convinced myself I was. At that moment, I said Dave, it’s time to start something on your own. The voice in my head was screaming, “Speak up right now, resign and give 90 days’ notice.” I took my own advice, and the golden boy became a real Entrepreneur. 

I was so excited to finally be able to live my life on my terms to do what I want. When I wanted. I was free of the red tape. I was free of obligations. 

I was also free of revenue. 

Now, I started out with a sizable safety net. I was putting all the time in and the creativity was there. The focus was there. But the income wasn’t.

One month became six months. Six months became 18 months. And before you know it, I went from having everything, to being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Credit cards got canceled. The creditors started calling.

And when I stopped answering their calls, my dad called to let me know they were calling him looking for me. Things got pretty bad…

I had to go to my young daughter and ask her for money from some of the babysitting she did just so we can pay our mortgage. Talk about utter shame as a parent.  When your daughter’s asking you if you intend on paying her back. This entrepreneurship thing wasn’t working. 

It came to the end of the line, and I had 30 days to turn it all around or else. I knew something had to happen. I just didn’t know what it was.

Ok, so I’m going to stop here. If I still have your attention, hopefully you are now intrigued and wondering what happened next for me…

That’s because I integrated one of the best secrets to communicating a message in a compelling and memorable way. 

I used storytelling. 

People and brands that tell more about themselves, their brand, their products, or their services through story formulas resonate at a higher level with their audience. 

Storytelling has been used in marketing for decades, and for good reason… It works. (BTW: I’ll share a perfect example in a bit, which also happens to be one of the most infamous ads created to use storytelling). 

In fact, studies have shown that integrating storytelling in marketing and communication makes the information much more memorable and meaningful.  Psychologist Jerome Bruner discovered human beings are “22 times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped up in a story.” 

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business did a study and found that “when people listened to pitches, either containing facts and figures, OR a story, only 5% recalled a statistic given, but an astounding 63% remembered the stories.”

Here’s the scientific explanation behind it if you were curious…

Basically, stories are not complicated for our brains to compute. When things are complicated, our brains find it harder to process the information. The more predictable the information, the easier it is for our brains to absorb it. 

Stories put everything in order for our brains so we don’t have to put much effort into trying to understand what’s going on. This allows our brains to retain the information a lot easier.

Plus, the brain also releases dopamine into our system when we are emotionally charged (stories cause this charge), which further allows us to remember and recall stories we hear or read.  

If you are unfamiliar with this concept of storytelling in marketing and other communication, simply think of it as using a narrative to get your message across. 

The purpose of telling any story really, is to make your audience feel something. When you can do that, an emotional connection is made. 

Emotional connections create resonation.  

When your audience feels connected to you, they are more inclined to do something, or take an action of some sort (purchase something perhaps)

As human beings we are more likely to make our purchasing decisions based on the emotions the product or service stirs up inside of us (i.e., how does it make me feel)? 

As extreme as it sounds, that’s actually how most of us make our purchasing decisions… Just think about a few of the last purchases you’ve made. As far as buying decisions are concerned, our logic informs, but our emotions persuade.

Here are a few more benefits of using storytelling in your marketing, branding and other communication… 

  • Stories allow you to “humanize” your brand (again, allowing you resonate at a higher level with your audience). 
  • Storytelling is a great way to describe the problem and the pain it causes in great detail that your audience CAN relate to–it helps your audience feel understood. 
  • Most marketing copy out there screams “advertisement” and our brains are programmed to dismiss or ignore anything that might even come close to. Storytelling gets around this.   
  • Storytelling helps you attract the right people…These are the raving fans and people who cultivate a fierce loyalty around your brand. 

IMPORTANT: In order to really utilize story elements in the most effective way copy wise, always keep your audience in mind and choose a story that your audience NEEDS to hear or read (as it needs to be 100% relevant to them)

Here’s that great example of an ad I mentioned earlier that successfully uses story to draw in the reader… One of the most infamous ads created by John Caples: 

They Laughed When I sat Down By the Piano, But When I Started to Play!  

As far as the rest of my story… Was I triumphant in turning it around in 30 days? I’m sure you can figure out I was. But how I arrived there is the invaluable part… 

You can catch the rest of my story HERE by viewing my TEDx

To your success, 

David

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