The Story We Tell Ourselves About Our Work

Tell better biz stories

Candice is a masterful seamstress.

She can design or alter a garment, exquisitely, to custom fit your body. Short torso, wide hips, long arms, square shoulders, thick waist, flat rear — doesn’t matter.

Nothing is a challenge for this sewing wizard.

Whatever your body type or wardrobe issue, Candice’s exceptional talents are guaranteed to solve your problem and make you look and feel like you’re donning high-end designer apparel.

Yeah, she’s THAT good.

And speedy, to boot.

She can hem a fancy schmancy prom dress in record time! Seems she’s called upon for these last-minute [sewing] emergencies every year … and she pulls through with grace.

Same goes for brides and their wedding gown emergencies. Candice has been known to show up at the church, needle and thread in hand, ready to work her wizardry and save the day.

With all the tailor-made miracles Candice produces, she has one BIG problem — her story.

The story she tells herself about her work is borderline dismal and it shows in her marketing.

When you visit her website, her blog and About Page leave the impression she’s a plain Jane who just happens to know how to run a sewing machine. Too bad, cause she’s SO much more than that!

Sadly, she’s been telling herself her work isn’t anything special; just ordinary and uninteresting.

But you and I know that’s not true.

Do you see any part of yourself in Candice? Maybe your story isn’t painting a true picture of your gifts and your worth. Maybe you’re leaving your target audience with a skewed impression.

Would you love to learn how to tell better biz stories?

I’m talking about stories that enrapture your prospective clients or customers, speak straight to the heart of their challenges, and entice them to choose you over your competition.

If that sounds like something you, your biz, and your bottom line can benefit from …

My amazing friend and colleague, Tea Silvestre Godfrey of Story Bistro, is hosting her second annual Storytelling Soiree in Portland, OR, the weekend of August 8th and 9th and I’m nudging you to attend!

Here’s the thing:

If you can’t attend in person, Tea’s got you covered. You can grab a virtual ticket and attend from anywhere — poolside, your couch, home office, kitchen table, or even your bed.

And to make this event extra sweet:

Tea is offering you, my dear reader, 25% off the ticket price when you reserve your spot before July 1st. At checkout, just use the code, MELANIEPAL25, for your exclusive discount.

I’ll be a virtual attendant this year. I was super excited about making the trip to Portland when I got the surprising news of a new California grandbaby on the way. So I’ll have my bags packed here in Arizona and be “on call” for labor coaching duty (and a long drive).

Just hope the baby waits till the Storytelling Soiree is over. It’s a one-of-a-kind event created by a one-of-a-kind storytelling genius and I can’t wait!

Scope out the details today and don’t pass on the opportunity to tell better biz stories. Those stories begin with YOU and an understanding of your primary business story type.

Random Acts of Serendipitous Marketing: A Trip in the Time Machine

time machine

You know those folks you cross paths with online whom you instantly “feel” a connection? Like in a heartbeat?!

The people you can’t wait to network with, can’t wait to read their next blog post, can’t wait to find out more about, can’t wait to receive their newsletter, and can’t wait to meet in person?

Yeah, those people.

The truly priceless connections, kindred spirits, and solid bonds you form online; the email lists you actually want to be on!

Bet you’ve stumbled on more than a dozen of these fabulous keepers, serendipitously, along the internet highway.

You haven’t spoken one word to them (yet) but your intuition assures you they’re going to become long time cherished connections – forever friends and colleagues. You can feel it in your bones, from your head to your toes.

Stick with me and I’ll tell you what all this has to do with marketing.

Boarding the Time Machine to Travel Back a Decade

I’m a people person … period.

I love to exchange ideas, engage in lively conversations, lend inspiration and encouragement, share remarkable stories, problem solve, walk my talk, and nurture meaningful relationships.

So when I came online and started blogging (back in the dinosaur days), I had NO idea sharing other bloggers’ posts, virtual events, social media updates, book releases, dynamite freebies, product launches, etc., was a form of “marketing”.

Who knew?!

Yep. I was marketing my little heart out by showcasing the lovely gems I uncovered while mining the mighty blogosphere. I didn’t grasp it at the time, but I was hard and heavy into honing my online visibility skills.

One goal was clear: Bringing the little known and unknown bloggers (those magnificent hidden diamonds in the rough) to the forefront.

Singing praises is my ‘thing’.

Need a biz cheer leader? Looking for a trusty blog ambassador? Want to get the word out about your upcoming event? Count on me. I’m a whiz at tooting horns.

When I see good work, good writing, good branding, and good deeds, I can’t help but shift into sharing mode. It makes me giddy to put deserving, hard-working solopreneurs in the spotlight.

And you know what usually happens? They reciprocate. (Read that again and you’ll sense the magnitude and the ripple effect of sharing.)

I recommended and promoted people, products, events, and services for a long time before I realized I was, in fact, helping small business owners with their marketing efforts.

Let’s just call it “Serendipitous Marketing”.

I didn’t seek out anyone in particular during those early years or any specific type of business or blog. Where I landed was a pure and simple case of sheer happenstance and serendipity at play.

The Almighty Universe can take full credit for being my guide.

Today I’m in the company of a beautiful network of some of the coolest and most creative solopreneurs and biz bloggers on the net.

Ooh! I’m blessed.

Nothing Has Changed: Still Promoting the Underdogs

The trip in the time machine was a fun nostalgic adventure but let’s fast forward to the present time.

I’m still doing it – marketing serendipitously.

Oh, I have my “regulars” whose online visibility I won’t hesitate to boost. I’ll never leave them in the dust. They’re on my hit parade for keeps. Whatever they’re writing or marketing goes right to the top of my priority list for sharing.

However (and thank goodness), my sacred guide is still working to direct me to new connections all the time.

Throughout my uncanny (I-didn’t-know-I-was-marketing) journey, I gleaned a much tighter grip on what marketing is all about along with the added perk of understanding the kinds of people my soul is attracted to.

I like quirky people.

The black sheep. The wallflowers. The outcasts. The loners. The rejects. The eccentric. The broken. The lost and forgotten. The odd ducks.

And why not?!

I’ve got a few quirks of my own. <grin>

But I’m not too quirky or too proud to admit I was flexing and strengthening my marketing muscles long before I could even define marketing.

It’s Your Turn

Do you have a [marketing-before-you-knew-the-meaning-of-the-word] story to share? Plunk that tale in the comment box! Make my day. I would love to hear it.

Next step: Don’t let the party end. Head over to this month’s Mission: Storytelling word carnival to read more on “How I marketed before I even knew what marketing was”. (A.K.A. “Marketing without marketing”)

Image credit: Pixabay

Please, Oh, Please Don’t Read The Bullet Points

path to pathetic webinar presentationsI can’t wait to attend another boring webinar (said no one ever).

Buckle up.

We’re about to hit some big bumps and even bigger potholes on the path to pathetic presentations.

If I had a nickel for every crappy webinar I’ve signed up for, I’d have enough dough to buy that cute little vintage Vespa I’ve always wanted.

Let’s Talk The Intro (a.k.a. The Boasting Fest)

You know, that part where some presenters spend ten to fifteen minutes (and sometimes even longer) shining the spotlight on you-know-who.

Nothing but nothing turns me off more than a personal intro that goes on for miles. And that applies to offline presentations, as well.

If you intend to go on and on … and on … at least weave in a good story!

Preferably something humorous or heartwarming that might help to keep me awake. Because I really have no interest in hearing your laundry list of accolades or the millions of dollars you’ve made selling potholders and perfume (from the trunk of your car).

I’ve had the privilege of being interviewed on webcasts and I’ve hosted some presentations of my own.

Want to know how long my personal introduction is?

Under two minutes.

My goal is to get to the meat of the material as quickly as possible – the stuff people sign up and show up for.

Let’s Take A Look At The Slides (Eeek!)

Graphs and charts and text, oh my!

Personally, I’ll take the lions, tigers, and bears. They’re a lot more engaging.

Unless you’ve just crawled out from under a cabbage leaf, I’m pretty sure you’re up to speed on what’s happening these days under the big tent of content creation.

In a word … images.

In four words … less text, more images.

Webinar slides plastered with text or boring graphs should be buried under the Smithsonian.

And let’s not forget those lovely bullet points. Bullet points are a great way to arrange thoughts in a concise, organized flow but please …

Oh, please! Don’t read them, verbatim. It insults my intelligence. After all, I know how to read.

Instead, elaborate on your bullets in a conversational manner. People will love you for doing so … and maybe even send kudos and cupcakes!

Let’s Address The Sales Pitch

How many times do presenters need to mention a paid offer during a webinar?

Once is enough.

And please don’t save the pitch for the end of your 60-minute virtual event when attendees are in “information saturation mode”.

They’ve had enough and they’ve heard enough.

Most will click away due to sheer fatigue or simply not absorb half of what you’re peddling. Sitting for long periods of time is tiring.

Here’s what I recommend:

Make an announcement at the beginning of your webinar that you’ll be taking a “brief commercial break” midway through your glorious presentation to share an offer.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

Everyone will know what to expect and if people don’t care to hear your offer, they can run to the fridge for a nice snack or pay a visit to the loo (I’ve always loved the British term for toilet).

Speaking Of The Toilet

Don’t let your webinars go down the crapper.

1.)   Craft a short and sweet personal introduction

2.)   Learn to tell better stories

3.)   Create images that capture and convey your message

4.)   Use bare bones text on your slides

5.)   Pitch your offer (only once) midway through your presentation

You have worthwhile messages, fun anecdotes, and wonderful offers to share with your attendees.

Use virtual events to your best advantage by creating remarkable presentations – and don’t forget virtual event etiquette!

Make your next webinar one people want to talk about.

[Stepping down from my soap box]

Image credit: Pixabay

The Answer Was Staring Right At Me and Yet I Couldn’t See It

walking through the fogIt was another foggy day.

A dingy, dense, and dreary encounter.

I couldn’t see a thing.

The absence of clarity can be pretty frightening.

Just the scary thought of placing one foot in front of the other brought on a paralyzing phobia – the fear of being stranded; stuck; suspended in time.

I don’t fare well in dark places. I lose my grip on sensibility, my systems shut down, and I shiver like a lost child in the night.

And there I stood … in the foggiest of fogs.

Oh, before I go on …

Did you think I was talking about the weather?

My sincerest apologies.

The weather’s grand in my little corner of the world these days. Beautiful clear skies with lots of warm spring-y sunshine, delighting the vegetable garden and flowers.

I was lamenting writer’s block – a syndrome that creates the thickest kind of stifling fog!

Back to that day …

Staring at a blank page for what felt like eons, my brain fogged up and my eyes fogged over.

Hell! I had fog clogging my veins!

There’s nothing like having a writing assignment due in a matter of hours with not one syllable on the page.

A migraine headache would have been far less debilitating.

Just for the record … Quick-witted, I’m not.

And I don’t believe in forcing creativity. You may as well try pushing a hippo uphill – with one hand tied behind your back and the other in a cast.

Then an idea rolled in like thunder and struck like lightning! (Bet that happens to you sometimes.) You know. Those ideas that always show up late to the party – fashionably late, that is.

My foggy brain managed to recall a short “visual observation” exercise (a fellow blogger shared with me some years ago) that gets your creative writing wheels spinning.

It’s all about turning what you observe into teachable moments – little golden nuggets to share with your readership.

Here’s the quick gist:

1.)  Spend ten minutes looking around your immediate surroundings.

2.)  Find objects/knick-knacks/things/stuff/trinkets that represent a concept/lesson/philosophy.

3.)  Show the comparison and share the lesson.

So ten minutes later, here’s what I found — along with the *teachable moments I created from the silly odds & ends on my desk:

Large hand-painted ceramic mug, overflowing with pencils, pens, markers, and highlighters.  I don’t use or need half of these writing implements.

*Teachable moment: Clean up your act, get organized, and de-clutter your office space for better concentration and less distraction.

Intricately designed wrought iron napkin holder, used to hold my mail and other paperwork.

*Teachable moment: Recycle or repurpose your blog posts, articles, podcasts, teleseminars, videos, webinars, etc., into info products or programs you can sell.

Hat box, imprinted with beach-y scenes of serene and exotic travel destinations.  I keep business cards, postage stamps, calculator, paper clips, greeting cards, etc., in this box.

*Teachable moment: Rest and relaxation, a much needed break from your workspace, or even a formal vacation is essential for your well being and, hence, your success as a solopreneur.

The means for lifting the fog of writer’s block was sitting on my desk, staring me in the face. Who knew?!