In my recent workshop on How to Present Your Products Online, one of the factors I talk about is sharing your story.
Your story – where you come from, what inspires you, why you do what you do and a thousand other things – is a core ingredient of your marketing.
In presenting your products online, via sites like Etsy or Folksy, you can use your story to help customers form a deeper relationship with your product. Rather than ‘just’ a nice cup or pair of earrings or workbook, that product is now a part of a much bigger story.
The story of your travels and how you’re inspired by traditionally-woven fabrics to create textured coffee cups.
The story of your grandma’s jewellery box and how it helps you dream up new jewellery designs.
The story of discovering your ikigai and how it led you to try and help more creative businesses fulfil their brand’s potential.
Stories are magic, fun, exciting and integral to who we are.
But one of the themes that came out of the workshop feedback was this: how do I share my story without feeling embarrassed? Without feeling cringey? Without feeling cheesy?
There are a lot of tactics you can use to share your story in a way that makes sense for you, your business and your customer. But before you know HOW to do it, you need to know WHY you’re doing it.
Knowing WHY you’re doing it defeats the feelings of embarrassment. It helps you feel confident and organised. It stops you from feeling like what you’re doing is cringey or cheesy.
Here’s why you should share your story.
1. People love stories.
Every culture uses stories to teach people how the world works. We use stories to frighten, cajole, encourage, impress or enlighten someone. There are stories for everything around us, from how we should behave to how we make a cup of tea (never milk first you heathens).
Stories help us make sense of the world because we are pre-disposed to pattern-spotting. Pattern-spotting helped us survive by explaining the world to us in a way we could understand and maybe predict. So a story is a pattern we can understand very quickly and easily, which makes us feel comfortable and pay attention.
Sharing YOUR story with your community is a natural part of being human. You are showing them a pattern so they can say “Oh, I understand”. Your story might be different to their own, unusual or even unique, but it’s still a quick route to making them feel comfortable and pay attention.
It’s like the magic touch: a sprinkle of your story and you’ve connected with your community in a very deep way.
2. Stories change objects into something better.
Each one of us will have emotional attachments to certain objects in our lives; maybe a dress, a ring, a certain picture or an ornament. This emotional attachment doesn’t come from the object itself – the actual material or design or shape or colour. It comes from the story attached to it.
The story is that your mum handed the dress down to you, or your dad made the ring, or the picture is a scene from where you grew up, or the ornament is a memento from your travels.
When someone says “That’s a lovely picture”, you don’t say “Yes, it’s painted in oils on a piece of stretched canvas”. You say, “Yes, it’s where I grew up”.
Even things we buy because we like the look of it come with a story: “It reminded me of autumn leaves” or “My first house looked a little like that” or “It was the perfect size for my morning coffee”.
Even services we buy are made better by the attachment of a story. A florist doesn’t just create fabulous arrangements; they help create your dream wedding. An accountant doesn’t just sort out your finances; they help you save up for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday.
By attaching your story to what you do, whatever product or service you sell suddenly gets better. It gets magical, because it’s attached to a story. And people LOVE stories.
3. Sharing your story gives your customer something to share.
People love stories, but more importantly they love sharing stories. Spoken stories came long before written stories, and we tell stories to babies long before they can read – stories our parents told us.
By sharing your story with your customer, you are giving them something to share. You’re giving them something to share in a transaction that would normally be fairly solitary.
Here’s an example: You buy a beautiful scarf for yourself from a local knitter. Without a story, you have a beautiful scarf just for yourself. With a story, you have a beautiful scarf for yourself AND something to give to others.
People want to connect with each other. We want to give and share and be part of something. So buying something is nice, but it’s just for you. Sharing a story about what you bought makes that transaction into a potential opportunity for connection.
The difference between saying, about a picture, “Yes, it’s painted in oils on a piece of stretched canvas”, and “Yes, it’s where I grew up” is the second statement starts a connection. I’ll ask, “Where did you grow up? What was it like?” and suddenly we are two people in a vast cosmos sharing a magical connection.
I like to call it the ‘dinner party worthy‘ story. You’re giving your customer something to share at a dinner party when someone points out an item in their home.
By sharing YOUR story, you’re giving them the opportunity to connect with others.
This is WHY you should share your story.
People love stories.
Stories change objects into something better.
Sharing your story gives your customer something to share.
And, ultimately, sharing your story is a way to connect you, your creative work, and your community in a deep, magical way.
Next time you feel like sharing your story is too embarrassing, too cringey or too cheesy, remember these reasons WHY you’re doing it. We’re here to connect, and stories help us do that.
Looking for time and space to understand how to tell your story best?
I’m taking bookings for One-to-One Marketing Reviews in January 2018.