business storytelling marketing strategy sales

The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling


When was the last time you read a good book? You know, the kind that keeps you up half the night, even though you have a zillion things to do in the morning, because you MUST know how it’s going to end.

There’s nothing like a gripping page turner that you can’t put down. It leaves a lasting impression and sticks with you for weeks and months to come – but most of all, you can’t wait to share with your friends.

That’s the power of a great story at work.

So when it comes to sharing stories in your business, it can feel like a lot of pressure. The word insurmountable comes to mind, especially if you’re like me and you had a relatively “normal” upbringing and there’s no big dramatic turn of events. Or if you’re the kind of person who knows their mama wouldn’t appreciate you airing your family’s dirty laundry in public.

Not every story needs to have melodramatic twists and turns. Especially when it comes to the stories you share in your business.

The goal of sharing your stories is to create a link with your audience, no drama needed. As the saying goes, facts tell, stories sell.

At the heart of storytelling is making an emotional connection, and many times sharing something your audience can see themselves in is just as powerful as a rags to riches or overcoming the odds type of story.

Which is why I’ve put together the ultimate guide to storytelling to help you tell your personal story.

Understand What Your Audience Needs From You

If you’re going to share stories, you must be thoughtful about them. Otherwise you’re going to end up sharing a lot of things that don’t support your business or risk portraying yourself in a way that doesn’t jive with your community.

It’s not about taking on airs or being a big old fake, but you need to have a filter to run things through to make sure there’s a point to the story. Otherwise it’s just one big autobiographical storytelling jam session, which gets tired quickly.

The filter? Get to know what your audience is thinking, feeling and sensing. What do they need to hear? What are they looking for? Spending time on carefully defining this lets you frame how you communicate and what stories are worth telling.

A Little Personal Color Goes a Long Way

When you share personal stories, the audience filter comes in handy. You need to think about what’s a good fit for your audience and what may be completely over the top.

Personal stories are an ideal way for your tribe to learn more about you as a human and not just as an entrepreneur, coach or whatever it is you do. But do yourself a favor and be choosy about the stories you put out there.

In this iteration of my business, I’m willing to put myself way more out there than I EVER have and I make a point of sharing my own personal brand of my real-life anecdotes and straight talk. But that doesn’t mean it’s all about me and I let it all hang out.

The thing is I’m still a mom, and one day my kid will be able to read these words. I have a husband who works in a pretty conservative environment and I can guarantee there’s certain things he doesn’t want to see on the Internet. My friends likely wouldn’t appreciate me spilling the beans on some of our escapades or things that I’ve experienced alongside them (because while these things have shaped me in a profound way, they aren’t mine to share).

I know where my line is and I’m respectful of it. Because no one needs to know about that one time in Vegas. (Or maybe you do…but that’s a story for another day!)

[clickToTweet tweet=”Where’s your line when it comes to personal storytelling? New blog post.” quote=”Where’s your line when it comes to personal storytelling? New blog post.”]

Be Credible, But Don’t Oversell It

Part of storytelling in a business context is about stories that help you position your experience and how you’ve gotten to where you are today.

When I work with Story Distillery clients, we spend a lot of time working on packaging their experience in a way that’s credible but still accessible. The last thing you want to do is list ALL of the things you’ve ever done and how incredibly awesome you are.

For starters, that gets old quickly. Do you want to read an About page that requires you to scroll and scroll and scroll as someone recounts all the things? And then there’s the fact that if you didn’t lose your reader along the way, you may actually be intimidating them and they’re going to be scared to engage with you. (Sounds crazy, right? But people like to see themselves in people they work with or buy from.)

Think of your experience as needing a highlight reel. And on your About page or anywhere you talk about credibility, you share only the highlights, leaving the rest to be revealed over time.

You’re Not A Superstar

When you think of sharing stories in your business, it’s easy to think you’re the star. Because these stories are about you, right?

Not so fast! As you’re telling stories, you want to leave room to turn your clients and customers into the hero. What people really want to know from you is “how can they help me?” so showcasing your customers as the superstar lets you prove that you can deliver.

When you’re shaping these stories, focus on results. The personal relationship is important, but if you don’t deliver the goods, it’s not going to matter.

As a kid, I used to watch this TV makeover show called The New You with my mom, and I became pretty obsessed with the idea of the before and after. And I’m not alone. Transformation stories are incredibly powerful. That’s exactly why magazines and media are chalked full of them, and I’ve probably spent more hours of my life than I care to admit watching What Not to Wear and Style by Jury.

Think about what the before and after is for your clients. Start there and find ways to weave those stories into your marketing.

Stand for Something

Author, speaker and creator of the Fascination Advantage System, Sally Hogshead, has a quote that I love:

Different is better than better.

The point being you can work harder and do more, but if you’re not different, it’s hella hard to get a leg up. Which is why when you’re telling stories, you need to stand for something.

For some people, that idea can be scary, especially if you’re a people pleaser and the idea of someone not liking you is unthinkable.

If you want to truly be remarkable, it’s time to get over it.

To succeed, you’re going to need to embrace that you can’t work with everyone, you can’t serve everyone, and you’re actually doing yourself a disservice if everyone likes you.

The sooner you embrace that fact, the whole lot easier being in business and telling stories is going to be.

What does it mean to take a stand?

I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. You don’t need to stand on a table and rally a frenetic crowd of supporters to follow you into a battle you’re likely to lose.

For your business, it means you take ownership of key issues and have an opinion. This is what successful leaders do, and if you want to cut through the same old, same old, then it’s compulsory.

Find a way to state what you believe in a way that works for you. Take careful note of the “for you” part, as we’re all going to do this differently, and for it to work it must be aligned with how you actually are as a person.

If you need a hint, look at your Fascination Advantage report. My primary advantage is innovation and I lean on it a lot as I speak the language of ideas.

Otherwise you’re going to stay in obscurity and it’s hard to run a business when no one knows who you are.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Stop being a people pleaser and take a stand on something already.” quote=”Stop being a people pleaser and take a stand on something already.”]




Business Strategy for Entrepreneurs marketing strategy sales

Your Official Guide to Selling Without Feeling Sleazy

blog 6.11

You’ve probably heard it before: “I’m bad at sales” or “Oh, I’m just not really a sales person.”  Hell, you’ve probably uttered it from your lips or at least said it in your head.

And it needs to stop. It’s the worst form of self-sabotage as the boss of your business and it will wreak serious havoc on everything in your wake. If you don’t sell anything, you’re not going to have a business for very long.

For years my mother has joked with me that I can sell anything and is completely mystified by this magical sales ability I seem to possess. So, do I have a special superpower? A natural talent for being able to sell?

While I’d like to think I have superpowers and am some type of modern day business Wonder Woman, I really don’t in this department. Which is good news for you, as you, too, can become an amazing salesperson. Best of all, you can engage in selling without feeling sleazy.

Here are some ideas to make sales so much easier:

It All Starts with Confidence

Don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about learning how to walk with swagger. The confidence I speak of is in the product or service you’re selling.

If you think what you’re selling is a complete and utter piece of crap, it’s going to be hard to actually convince anyone they need this.

If you’re selling yourself or the services you provide, you’re going to have to work hard to figure out why exactly you’re not confident and fix it. Easier said than done, I know, but if you’re not confident all the flippin’ time in what you have to offer, maybe it’s the wrong thing or you’ve got to work on your value proposition.

Over the years, I’ve sold everything from rubber stamps to high-end consulting services, and the real reason I excelled at this is that I believed 100% in what I was selling.

If I don’t believe in a product, I can’t sell it. End of story. And I’m willing to bet you’re the exact same.

Over the last year, I’ve stopped product launches for things I didn’t entirely believe in or that weren’t quite right. I’ve decided that until I can sell it enthusiastically, I won’t sell it at all.

Life’s too short to sell shit you hate.

That’s why by the time I launch my course this Fall, I’ll have spent 9 months working on it. (Cue the pregnancy parallels, because some days having a baby feels like it would be way less work!)

So, if you’re struggling to sell your thing, take some time to figure out if you can improve it so you’re confident offering it up. And if you’re struggling with overall confidence, do what it takes to get to a point where you believe in yourself and your offering enough to make it a success.

[Tweet “Life is too short to sell shit you hate. New blog post from @magspatterson”]

Selling Doesn’t Have to be Sleazy

The way selling is done on the Internet has a distinctly masculine energy to it at times. It’s bold, ballsy and in your face.

When we’re consuming a consistent diet of high pressure, make money while you sleep, dude-tastic sales tactics, it’s no wonder that we start to think that selling is sleazy.

It’s not. It doesn’t have to be. Not for a second.

Flaming, flashing red buy now buttons aren’t mandatory to do business on the Internet.

How you sell can be done in a way that’s service-based and with good intentions. You can take the same proven persuasion principles and conversion strategies that work for the dude entrepreneurs and make them entirely yours. All with your soul intact.

Two of my favorite examples of people who do this incredibly well in our industry are Natalie MacNeil and Racheal Cook. They sell beautifully and do it in a way that’s clear, thoughtful and highly effective.

So instead of declaring sales as sleazy and making it way harder than it needs to be, become a student of people that you do vibe with and how they are selling their thing. Watch and learn so you can make it your own and not feel like you need to jam your business into a soulless formula that doesn’t serve you ﹘ or your potential customers ﹘ well.

Make Systems Your Sales BFF

Selling is only one part of your role in your business, which is why you need to create systems to support your sales process.

Whether you’re selling a product (such as an e-course) or a one-on-one service, your systems can do a lot of the heavy lifting to make sure the details are taken care of.

While this seems like the most obvious thing to say, if you can remove yourself from key pieces of the process, you actually will have fewer chances to sabotage it.

Key places you can create systems for in your sales include:

  • Booking
  • Billing/Invoicing
  • Contracts
  • Consult calls
  • Payments
  • Email communications
  • Proposals and quotes

Take a look at each of these to see where you can remove yourself with either a system, tool or a team member to ensure that you’re focused on the area where you’re most valuable. (Hint: That’s usually in the part that involves talking to people or sealing the deal.)

Finally, a big part of your sales system needs to be your marketing, which is a whole other cup of tea, but take some time to figure out how you’re going to get people from discovering you to buying. And posting your wares randomly in Facebook groups under the guise of feedback is NOT a sales system. (More on Facebook groups and good manners in this guest post on Jackie Johnstone’s blog here.)

Map out the steps it typically takes for a client to go from finding you to purchasing from you. If you aren’t sure, ask your newest clients for their insight, including how long they’ve been following you. Those blog posts, emails and everything else that you think no one reads or aren’t working may be your sales secret sauce after all.

If you need a helping hand with systems and customer experience, watch out for next week’s post that will share a new (free) resource that you won’t want to miss.

So, where do you need help to make your sales process feel and flow better? Taking action in this area, no matter how uncomfortable you may be is critical to your biz success in the long run.

[Tweet “You can sell online and not be a total d-bag. New post from @magspatterson”]

sales systems

Three Sales Systems to Nail for 2015

blog 12.11

This post is part of the 12 Days of Systems Challenge brought to you by Val Geisler of aspire&grow. If you want to get a handle on your systems and processes in 2015, get signed up for Systems Finishing School today. If you’re just getting started, be sure to check out Megan’s post yesterday and Kate’s post tomorrow.

When Val invited me to be a part of the 12 Days of Systems challenge I immediately said yes, as systems are a core part of my success. 2014 has been a year of growth and change, and probably the biggest contributor to that has been what I call “selling” systems.

We all spend a lot of time on our marketing and promotion hoping to close the sale. But it’s way too easy to get caught up in blogging, posting and tweeting and skip over the core systems that take people out of your community and turn them into paying clients.

Let’s face it. Selling can be scary. We’ve all got hangups and stories when it comes to selling from being pushy to just not being “good” at it. When you take the time to map out solid systems for selling your products or services, you can strip away all the negative self-talk and just focus on getting it done.

Here’s three “selling” systems  that if you can master them, you will close more sales in the coming year.

#1. Free Consult

We all talk about boundaries, but too many boundaries and suddenly you’re MIA from your business. It’s not unreasonable at all for people to want to have a quick chat with you before they hand over their hard earned dollar, especially if you’re providing a service.

On the flip side you may spend a lot of free time on consults that go nowhere and you feel like you’re wasting your time.

So, how do you make the most of a free consult?

Above all else, you need to make sure that you’ve got a clear goal in mind for your free consults. Before you hop on Skype, you want to have a plan in mind for how they go from the free consult into working with you.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is just getting on the phone with anyone and everyone. (Yay! Someone is interested! Maybe they will buy something!) It’s lovely for people to get to know you, but you can’t be surprised that people aren’t turning into paid clients from consults if you have a standing offer to let them pick your brain.

A free consult should not be about maybes. If you’re investing time, you want to make sure that there’s a reasonable chance of them actually working with you.  If you’re going to offer “pick my brain” type sessions do them at specific times of month or during the year so it’s clear that they can’t expect to get on the phone with you any old time to solicit ideas or feedback.

Systems Talk:

  • Communicate clearly what the purpose of free consults are. Are they to find out more about working with you? To ask a question?
  • Create specific blocks of time on your calendar for free consults.  Use a tool like ScheduleOnce to automate the process.
  • Be specific before the call on what they can expect. Setting expectations about what you’ll talk about and for how long can help you make the most of your time.

#2. Clear Path to Purchase on Your Website

You can promote, promote and promote some more, but if people can’t easily buy from you, promotion is pointless.  Harsh. But true.

There’s many points of failure in the sales process on a website which we tend to overlook as we’re too close to our own stuff. Which is where systems come in. While I could write an entire 52-week blog series on this topic, let’s hit a few of the highlights.
Make buying from you easy. And by easy I mean dead simple. A few common barriers that come up are:

  • Too many clicks to find the information.
  • Confusing or unclear pricing.
  • No way to easily purchase. If you’re doing business online,  you better offer PayPal as an option.

If people are considering purchasing from you, you want to map out exactly what they can expect from you once they hit buy. If they’re booking a coaching package – answer the question “what happens next?” before they start to wonder. Your client intake system is key as it’s a big part of the customer experience, so if people know what happens, the timeline and more, they will feel more confident doing business with you.

Systems Talk:

  • What system do you use for payment/checkout? Do you offer PayPal and an easy way to pay immediately?
  • Do you have easy to find and understand sales pages? (Yes, sales pages are a system – they funnel people into your offering.)
  • What system do you have in place after they hit buy? What happens next? Do they book a session? Get intake paperwork? If you can automate this, all the better.

#3. Perfect Pricing & Proposals

Depending on your type of business, you may be in a situation where you need to develop pricing and proposals for projects or ongoing work. At the point you have someone interested enough that you’ve had a consult and you’re preparing a proposal, you want to nail this. You’re 80% of the way there, so it’s up to you to close the deal.

While your pricing and proposals should be customized to the specific client and their needs, there’s a number of ways to systematize your process so you aren’t reinventing the wheel each time.

Every proposal I create has common elements such as “what to expect” and “budgets” sections, so I have those templated. If you want to streamline that process even further, consider using a tool like BidSketch or QuoteRoller.

Work with your designer (or design your own) so you have a standard, professional template for your proposals.  How you present this information is important and you need it to be a little more than an unformatted Google Doc.

And finally, give some thought to your system around delivering proposals. Creating a workflow that goes from the consult to signing on the dotted line will help you nail it every single time. A few items to cover off:

  • How fast will you deliver a proposal following a call? You should deliver quickly and communicate that timeframe to your prospect.
  • What happens after the proposal is sent? If they accept, what happens next? In my case, they get a contract and an invoice for a deposit.
  • How do you onboard them? Do they schedule their first call? Get an intake form?

Systems Talk:

  • Create a system around your proposal process. Map out all the steps from consult to successfully onboarding a new client.
  • What common elements can you standardize for proposals?
  • What’s your timeline for delivery, acceptance and more of proposals?

What sales systems do you need to master for 2015? Taking a bit of time away from your marketing to focus on having the systems to back up it, will be time well spent.