Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that once they build the online community and amass thousands of followers, selling will be practically effortless. So it becomes a not-so-pleasant surprise when they announce a new course, book or event, and nobody bites.
Just because people are liking and commenting on your posts doesn’t mean they’ll buy from you. Feeling compelled enough to press a button and feeling compelled enough to pull out a credit card are two totally different motivations. Tapping into the latter requires some serious sharpening of your storytelling skills.
If you want to take your business to highly influential and lucrative levels, you need to get people to not only care about the product you’re selling but also to trust that you’re the best person to sell it to them. They need to feel connected to you to such a degree that you become more than a mindless scroll and a double-tap, but a trusted source they can buy from. That’s what wrapping your message in a story can do.
Stories sell. That’s a fact. But it’s not enough to type up a short synopsis of your life experience. You have to craft and cultivate a narrative that appeals to your reader’s desires and addresses their fears while simultaneously providing them with a solution.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs never get to that point. They jump the gun and start marketing before they’ve built a deep connection with who they’re marketing to. They read the top marketing books, listen to all the notorious gurus, build an Ideal Client Avatar and fill out workbooks outlining their annual goals, without ever taking a step back to dig deep until they find the answer to the million-dollar questions: Who are my people, and why do I serve them?
In other words, they start selling before they’ve earned the right to do so.
People buy from who they know, like and trust. So if your people just aren’t buying what you’re selling, chances are you’re making one of the following mistakes.
1. Your story is all over the place
You’re sharing bits and pieces, but the dots aren’t connecting. Every piece of copy or messaging feels like a standalone episode instead of part of a larger arc that brings people back to the core brand story of you: who you are, what you do, how you can help and why they should care. Your audience might enjoy your stories, but they don’t have a clear understanding of what you’re really about and how you can help them.
And guess what? It’s your job to spell this out for them in a way that builds rapport and leads them back to your business.
When you don’t have a coherent brand story that’s been nurtured and refined, it’s difficult to make an emotional connection with your audience. People want to know who you are, what you stand for, and how you can help them. They don’t just want a list of your professional accolades or humblebrag tales of your life experience.
2. You’re not bringing the point home
Your story is pretty much a giant meandering anecdote. The actionable lesson isn’t clear to your audience, and they don’t see how what you’re saying applies to their lives, their problems or their desires. When you’re focusing too much on yourself and the point is buried under a pile of superfluous details that don’t matter, then you fail to provide enough value to make your audience care about what’s in it for them.
Your job as a storyteller is to package the information you’re sharing in a way that’s relevant and valuable to your ideal audience. Not only are they clear on who you are as a brand and business, but how specifically this will serve them in their lives. Don’t make your audience do mental math. Make your core message and call to action crystal clear.
3. You’re not positioning yourself as an authority figure in your space
Your story is what captures your audience’s heart, but positioning yourself as the go-to expert is what will capture their wallets. They have to believe you’ll get them the results they want.
While it’s important to meet your audience where they’re at and talk to them on the same level, at the end of the day you need to remember that you’re there to be a leader and a guide, not just a peer who is equally as lost in the dark. So make sure you’re sharing your story from the viewpoint of Yoda, who turned his experiences into wisdom and is in a position to teach, instead of Luke Skywalker who (let’s be honest), still doesn’t quite know what he’s doing.
How to craft a story that sells
If you want to turn your followers into customers, you have to take the time to cultivate a brand story that’s emotionally resonant, relevant and inspiring. This involves taking a step back and being honest with yourself about who you are, what makes your story unique and how you can use it to benefit your audience.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Make sure your brand story is reflected consistently across all your content. Don’t just focus on your website or your social media posts. Make sure your story is woven into every aspect of your business, from the way you talk to your customers to the language you use in your marketing materials.
- Include clear calls to action. Spell out your point so your audience is clear on the value you’re giving. Before you publish anything, ask yourself: What do I want my audience to do as a result of reading this? What’s the lesson or takeaway?
- Weave social proof into your storytelling. Client stories, testimonials and case studies are a great way to make your brand story come alive and give your audience tangible proof that you can help them.
- Ask your audience for feedback. Get curious and do a small survey asking your audience what’s holding them back from buying (the answer might surprise you). Tailor your content accordingly.
- Make a juicy offer they can’t refuse. Sometimes, it’s not the content that isn’t appealing but the actual offer that needs work. If your audience is finding your content useful but not your products or services, take a look at your offer and see where you can sweeten the deal.
When it comes to converting followers into customers, storytelling is key. By taking the time to cultivate a powerful brand story, you’ll open the door to creating a deep emotional connection with your audience. And with consistent effort over time, you’ll find that selling to them becomes easier and more natural.
It’s not about bragging or being self-promotional. It’s about creating a relationship with your audience that inspires trust and confidence. It’s about selling your offers while genuinely connecting with your people on a heart-to-heart level.
That, my friend, is the power of storytelling.