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I suck at telling my own story

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I suck at telling my own story


Yes, it’s true. Despite the fact that I’ve written literally hundreds of client scripts over the years, even for big-name brands, I suck at writing my own story. But I found a solution and so, if you also struggle like me, perhaps a little trick I came up with will work for you too.

It’s been two years since I released my last marketing video. Cartoons were super hot at the time, and it is a quick and easy format to produce so that’s the format I went with. In that one, I basically created a make-believe character with a business challenge, my business came to the rescue and, as a result, she secured a promotion.

But nowadays, cartoons and explainers and whiteboard animations are losing their appeal because well, we’ve seen tons of them.

More and more lately, I see companies turning to actors. And it makes sense; seeing people’s expressions drives emotions like empathy and victory deeper into our psyche. And if your business has anything to do with people–HR, customer service, payroll–then it is critical that you show real people. For instance, Zenifits has a great demo video set in a hip SOMA office building. It could have been produced in any format, but seeing those people interact with each other and with the product makes the solution that much more authentic and meaningful.

So, two years have gone by and I needed a new video for my business. After all, I make videos for a living. Hello? But I didn’t want to hire a crew and talent for a high production value piece. I just needed to show my storytelling abilities.

And then it hit me. What’s my story? What can I say about myself that will cause people to sit up and take notice? Why should anyone care about my business?

Sadly, this went on for about 4 months. Part of the problem is I’m not a showy grandstanding type guy. Boasting about myself isn’t second nature. So as I thought about it, I eventually realized that, over those many years, I had told a lot of stories. And those stories were all about how my clients improved peoples’ lives. And so, that became my story. Their story is my story.

Rather than boasting about myself or my accomplishments, I simply showcased how my clients had helped people. ADP helps small business owners to control their finances. Wolters Kluwer helps accountants to better manage taxes. Seagate helps people to forever keep their digital photos and videos. And so much more. The result is a motivational piece because people are what matter. Not my skills, not the number of videos I’ve made over the years, not how much money I’ve helped my client companies to make. What matters is how people were impacted by my solutions. Here it is:

So if you ever struggle with telling your story, perhaps you can focus your thoughts on what your customers receive from it; how it improves their lives. Instead of cleaner dishes, switch it to more time with family. Instead of a mortgage, switch it to the American Dream. With their goal in mind, you can characterize that person (your target audience or persona) and show the possibility of having or living or being better. Focus on the person first, your solution second. That way, relevance goes way up because they can envision a better station in life for themselves. Better still, this approach puts you in their corner of the ring, not just another company trying to sell them something.

I hope this helps you to develop your own marketing story. If not, the evidence is pretty clear that I’m very good at telling other people’s stories.