It would be a really boring world if stories didn’t exist.
When you look closely enough, you’ll notice they’re everywhere. It’s insane how many storylines and content ideas I find with every interaction between my nephews, husband, friends, the puppeteer on the corner of my street (not kidding — I’m dying to know what his deal is).
And one inkling of a story is all it really takes to capture our attention. Just one moment of a sweet escape into someone else’s reality.
So as a business owner, you can’t afford to miss out on the power of storytelling. Especially on your website, where people are, believe it or not, searching for a story as much as they are a solution.
“Storytelling” can feel like a buzzword though. Or when people think of “story” they think “once upon a time…there was a —“ yeah, I’ll stop there.
Allow me to break down the must-have stories your website should tell through a quick 3-Chapter breakdown. And how to tell them in a way that feels less like a tactic and more like an irresistible page-turner.
Donald Miller says it best:
“You are not the hero of the story — your client is”– Donald Miller
And I couldn’t agree more. So we start there — with your client. If only there was a way to know the ins and outs of your client’s story.
Oh wait…there is! It’s called market research.
Sounds absolutely riveting, doesn’t it? (I hope you noticed my tone of sarcasm).
Alright, there’s a ton of information I could share about market research. Pain points, desires, yada yada yada. That’s beating a dead horse at this point.
Instead, what I will do is share some perspectives you’ve probably never heard before.
And with each perspective, you’ll want to address it pretty much everywhere on your website, but most prominently on your Services/Sales Page(s). Because before even convincing your audience you can help them, your audience first wants to know you understand where they’re coming from.
We on the same page? Cool. So here are a few questions you’ll want to reflect on to help you do just that:
Say what now?
Go ahead and read the dictionary definition of market sophistication coined by Eugene Schwartz:
“Market sophistication describes a level of buyer awareness in the marketplace”
Still not helpful? Okay, let me explain in plain English.
Market sophistication is how aware (or unaware) your audience is that a product or service like yours exists.
AND it’s how much they actually know what they need to begin with.
The higher the market sophistication, the more your audience knows about your business or product.
The lower the market sophistication, the less your audience knows about your business or product.
Think of it like this:
If you were in the market for a car, it would be pretty straightforward, right? You’re most familiar with name brands, types of cars, and you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for.
An electric car would be a little different. You’ve got to consider price, charging stations, and wait… how often would you need to replace the battery?
Then there are hover cars — way out of left field. You wouldn’t even know what to search on Google! (Random fun fact, companies are currently looking for investors to start creating them. I’ll just let you sit with that for a moment).
When you understand market sophistication, you’re meeting your audience where they’re at. And arguably, the more (or less) you’ll need to explain how your business works.
That way when you’re writing copy for your website, the “starting point” is one your audience is familiar with.
Knowing your audience’s surface-level demographics alone won’t revolutionize anything. Listen, no one cares if your ideal client shops at Target and has 2.5 kids.
But there are certain details you may want to know so you can paint a scene of their life to provide context.
Depending on your business, these are a few things you may want to know about your audience:
You probably won’t make reference to all these insights verbatim. I suggest you don’t for privacy’s sake. But using these insights can help you literally walk in their shoes and start to ask the question “what does it feel like to be my customer, and what do they *really* care about?”
Jobs-To-Be Done is a framework by Tony Ulwick to help you understand your customer’s needs on a deeper level.
I don’t know about you, but for me, “pain points” can sometimes feel so black and white. After being introduced to this framework, I’ve enjoyed adding much more color and context to my ideal client’s situation, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same.
To make the most of the framework, you need to have a grasp on which 1-2 “levers” your audience resonates with the most. Once you do, lean into those levers through your messaging.
Now, let me walk you through each category:
Push “My current way won’t cut it anymore” — This is reminiscent of the typical pain points you see online. What are things that your audience can’t handle for much longer?
Pull “This new way looks pretty good to me” — This is similar to “desires”. What are all the benefits that are puuuuulling at your audience’s heartstrings to get them where they want to go?
Habits/Inertia “These habits/systems/conditions hold me back from changing” — Here’s where things get interesting. Is there a habit or common everyday thing that keeps your audience wanting to stay the same and NOT change?
Anxieties “I’ve got a few concerns about this new way” — Sometimes it’s not even pain points. There are genuine concerns that make it hard for someone to move forward. They may even feel jaded from a past failed experience.
See how this already helps you think about your audience in a completely different way? Next time you’re gathering market research, sifting through reviews, or collecting data about your audience, I encourage you to keep these perspectives in mind!
Once your ideal client knows, that YOU know, where they are and where they want to be (was that meta or what?), they’re desperate to fill the gap.
Your job is to fill this gap.
Especially if your business offers a high-touch service or any offer that requires you to spend a lot of time with said person, they aren’t just investing in your product or service. They are investing in YOU.
So it’s important to share your perspectives, your thoughts on the industry, and the hills you’re willing to die on.
I hear many business owners say they know their story is unique, but they aren’t sure where to start or how to even share it.
This “story”, by the way, is one you’ll want to showcase on your About Page.
So with that, let’s begin showcasing it.
We start here because your values play a BIG part in WHY you run your business the way you do.
The values you have in your personal life may not be a carbon copy of your company’s values. But it likely mirrors a similar sentiment.
That being said, it’s hard to be self-reflective. So these questions might help you narrow down what values are truly important to you:
Your business, after all, is an extension of you. Even as you grow an immense amount (and you will), you’re ultimately the person who will set the vision.
A quick tip on values: make them action statements instead of meaningless words like “creativity” or “integrity”. I have nothing against those words, but I want to know what “creativity” and integrity” mean to YOU.
For example, check out what I did on my site:
This is a great component to add to your About Page. You can also make these “company promises” or you can reference them indirectly in other ways.
Nonetheless, it’s important to know what your values are in business. They serve as the cornerstone for who you work with and how you help people.
One of my favorite questions I like to ask clients is “what makes you mad about your industry?”
The response is telling. It shows what really gets you riled up, and perhaps, even identifies how you can stand out from your industry.
This takes the “values” idea a little deeper because it keeps you accountable to think critically about the work you do. It forces you to engage in your work actively and prove yourself as a thought leader.
As a fun exercise I want you to fill in the brackets below with your personal scenario and say the following phrase out loud in your BEST Morgan Freeman voice:
“In a world — where [insert what makes you mad about your industry and what you hate that other people do]
We believe [insert how you think it should really be done].”
Now I get it. It’s not like you want to be combative or pick a fight. But if you want to be a brand that stands out, you’ve got to be willing to put your stake in the ground somehow, somewhere.
It doesn’t have to be revolutionary. It just has to resonate with the right audience.
Great, so you know your values. You know your unique thoughts on the industry. What do you do with that?
Because saying you care about something means diddly squat if you don’t show it with your actions.
Yeeeesh. I don’t mean for that to sting or anything, but the truth is the truth.
So question is, how do your values tangibly show up in your business?
Is it in the way you treat clients? In your project timelines? In your approach to work? In the way you distribute payments? In the way you treat people who aren’t even customers yet? How you show up online? What you DO and DON’T say online?
Here are some common lived-out values I’ve helped my clients come up with.
“Compared to the other guys, we do it with more…”
Yes, it can really be that simple. Pick a few angles that best represent your work and run with it!
Sometimes your differentiators CAN be your values. Sometimes it can be how you run your business. Most time’s it’s a combination of both.
Here’s an example I wrote for Sarah from Be Kind Counseling, a licensed therapist in New Jersey:
I didn’t necessarily say “Hey everyone, these are the values I care about!” Instead, I talk about how Sarah’s approach to therapy directly correlates with her values and what matters to her in business.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to sharing your values as a business is that you want to SHOW not TELL.
And your key differentiators are essential. It helps someone in the middle of a purchasing decision go “Oh hey, they care about the same things that I do. I’m should go with them.”
If all else fails and you have NO idea what to say to share your story, here’s a helpful starting point: For every part of your story that you think is or isn’t important, run it through the filter of this question: “Will this help my audience know, like, and, trust me?”
That last one is most important and believe me, it makes a world of a difference.
We’re hitting the end of this 3-part saga. You’ve told your ideal client’s story on your website. You’ve told YOUR story on your website.
Now it’s time to tell your PAST clients’ transformation story on your website.
This is one people underestimate all. the. time.
Your website is essentially making an argument for why you are the best choice for someone’s purchasing decision.
That being said… you’ve got to be willing to show the receipts. What transformation did people walk away with during and after working with you?
Quick tip for gathering testimonials: If you struggle to get clients to submit something, make the ask RIGHT when they are at their peak happiness level. Like if you’re a photographer, that would be right when you’ve delivered their sneak peek but aren’t quite done yet with their full gallery. Easy.
If you’re a business owner who needs to get results after a certain time period, let the client know upfront you’ll need certain info and set expectations. If it’s possible to get backend access to something up front, do it. Only for this reason: even if your client doesn’t get back to you about results, you’ll still have access to the data you need to showcase results.
Okay, so these are the three ways to show you past clients’ stories:
What better way to show the quality of work you’re capable of than through the work you’ve already done?
You demonstrate credibility when you’re able to not only display the work you’ve done but include someone’s testimonial right beside it. Or better yet, some wins they were able to accomplish because of your help!
Case studies in particular are especially great if you are a consultant or coach. And you’ll want to dedicate an entire page to case studies or portfolio work like this:
As I mentioned before, setting expectations up front is critical to gather that information. That way by the end of the process, you have an actual case study to showcase. Wordplay aside, let’s get to the next way to share your clients’ stories:
There are two types of testimonials that fall under this category. The Expressive Buyer and the Amiable Buyer.
Both are the type of people who care less about the hard data and more about the shared values of the business they’re investing in or the experience they’ll have.
Truth is, results don’t mean anything if you aren’t able to provide a quality experience or care about your client to begin with. That’s why strategically choosing some of your testimonials to fill someone’s emotional love box is important.
Check out this example of a testimonial for an Expressive Buyer from one of my past clients, For the Love of Dog, a dog board training service in NorCal.
“We got so many updates, watched her progress, and felt completely involved the entire time!”Our dog was so well taken care of and loved and now we get to enjoy a well-behaved dog that we can take everywhere. If I could give more than 5 stars, I would!– Michelle R. commenting on For the Love of Dog
Expressive Buyers want to feel like they are your most important client. They want to know that they will be listened to and see that you value them as an individual.
Michelle highlights that during the process of leaving her dog to train with For the Love of Dog, she felt “completely involved the entire time!”
This means FTLOD made Michelle feel at ease throughout the entire process and kept her in the loop — creating peace of mind. Therefore, filling her love box.
Sweet, now let me show you an example of an Amiable Buyer from the same website:
” I trust very few people with my dogs and I wouldn’t hesitate to send any of my dogs to Tiffany.”– Ashley F. commenting on For the Love of Dog
My dogs are also part of my family and so leaving them for extended periods of time is not something I do. If you’re considering training, please don’t hesitate to call For the Love of Dog. You won’t regret it.”
Amiable Buyers are veeeeeery slow with their decision-making process. They want to feel extremely comfortable investing in something (or someone) that shares their values and they want to create the least amount of resistance possible.
Ashley F. mentions how comfortable and safe she felt leaving her dogs with Tiffany from For the Love of Dog. In fact, she doesn’t trust her dogs with anyone BUT Tiffany.
This kind of testimonial helps website visitors empathize that for all the people who have trouble trusting people with their dogs, Tiffany is someone to trust.
Way to go Tiffany!
To finish off, there are two buyer types that fit into this equation who want nothing but the cold hard FACTS. They are The Driver Buyer and The Analytic Buyer.
Ultimately, we buy with emotion — but almost always back it up with logic.
When deciding on our next investment, we usually run through some variation of these questions in our head:
Results don’t always have to be equated to money. Results can mean hours saved, checking off one piece of someone’s bigger goals, or anything that’s quantifiable.
Because whether we realize it or not, even numbers tell a story.
So, let’s get into it.
First, there’s The Driver.
The Driver is the person who wants to come in blazing get things done fast and get it done RIGHT. They care about the numbers, yes, but they also care about efficiency and reaching larger, overarching goals.
Here’s an example from Inthida, an Executive Coach & Fractional Chie Operating Officer — who also happens to be a past client. 😉
“It’s no coincidence that [thanks to Inthida], my career has advanced faster than it ever has in the past 2 years than it has in my 16+ years of work experience. Not only did Inthida give me the language, frameworks, and tools to maximize team performance, but she transformed me as a leader [and she helped me transition] from a team lead to a leader of a department and a voice of influence amongst the executive leadership team. My only regret is that I wish I met her earlier!”– Abby Yew commenting on Inthida Coaching & Consulting
Notice Abby isn’t outlining a specific stat, per se, but she explained that her career advanced much more at a FASTER RATE thanks to Inthida’s help.
She didn’t dwell so much on the details. She cared more about the big-picture result. And I’d say those results were pretty big.
Last but not least, we have The Analytical Buyer.
This is an individual who thrives with the LOGIC around a purchasing decision. They want the facts and figures. The numbers. Heck, they’d ask for a P&L if they could!
Here is an example from Meridith, an Outsourcing & Systems Strategist
Also a past client.
I think you get the point that my clients never cease to amaze me:
“After going through this process and creating clear systems, my annual revenue jumped from $11K to $500K. I can no finally focus on client care and growing my business. Not to mention I only work 4 days a week and enjoy 3-day weekends.”– Dr. Julie Granger commenting on MVS Consulting
This testimonial speaks for itself. You want receipts? You’ve got ‘em.
My only word of caution is to not dramatize or overexaggerate numbers just to impress your website visitors.
Trust me, they can see through that kind of stuff.
I know it can be hard to hand off your voice to, quite frankly a stranger on the internet. I can guarantee this: after hearing hundreds of stories no two are ever the same. Each carries its own sentiment and it has every right to hold space in the world. Yeah yeah, sounds totally cliché but honestly, I don’t care because it’s 100% true and you should believe it. If you’re ready for me to help you tell yours, I would be honored to be your partner. Start the process by inquiring with me here.
Action-packed methods so your website can spark connections swiftly. Around the same time it takes to finish a leisurely afternoon stroll with a good friend — we should really do those more often.