Tips for Better Business Storytelling

Even though I hate video, I know that for a lot of people it’s their preferred method of communication. For those of you out there, here’s a video on how to achieve more effective business storytelling.

One thing I haven’t figured out about business storytelling is how to get better thumbnails. Facebook and YouTube always select the funniest face.


Why I Only Read Nonfiction (Now)

Why nonfiction makes you a better storyteller

For thirty-six years I read only fiction. I could never understand why anyone would want to spend free time reading about reality.

And then I became a business owner.

When I opened my business a little over three years ago, I realized I needed a lot of help. So I began reading books like Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid and John Jantsch’s the Referral Engine.

And it didn’t kill me.

Continue reading “Why I Only Read Nonfiction (Now)”

Why I Will Never Write a Post on How to Create Viral Content

Don't think of viral content as a goal

Do me a favor.

If you have a financial consultant of some sort, visit their website. If they have a blog, search for “funding retirement by playing the lottery.

Find anything? Did they pen an e-book, create an infographic, record a podcast or video on the subject? No? Why not?

Because it’s not a valid investment strategy.



The same is true of viral content. Having a post go viral is not a sound content marketing strategy.

Don’t believe me? let’s look at some of the things that have gone viral in the last few years:

  • A dress of indeterminable color
  • A woman wearing a Chewbacca mask laughing
  • A site where you could create an avatar of yourself Mad Men style, oh and (bonus!) you could pick where your avatar was hanging out
  • A guy who answered questions dressed in his underwear

If you’re still with me and haven’t already handed in your human card, opting to go live with the apes because they have a finer appreciation for “good” content, then you should begin to see why I don’t believe you should shoot for viral.


Viral Content Bends to the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

While we all claim to be deliriously busy, we spend hours in front of television each night or lose entire weekends to binge-watching shows about fictional presidents and then don’t bother to vote. We wouldn’t dream of missing an episode from our favorite zombie show but then turn ourselves into zombies by chasing after fake creatures on our phones.

We’re not rational.

We don’t make rational decisions. Not when we’re buying. Not when we’re deciding how to spend our day. Not when choosing what content to share.

As a marketer, or someone who’s trying their hand at marketing, you can’t create a strategy around something as unpredictable as a lightning strike, winning the lottery, or the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.


The mob is fickle, brother. He'll be forgotten in a month.


What Can You Do to Get More Views and Shares on Your Content?

Quite simply:

Give them what they want, whatever your ideal customer needs, longs for, desires. Create content around that. It may not catch on with the same fire-starter speed of whatever caught Drew Barrymore’s eye in that movie from the ’80s (what was it called?) but it will get shared, and your site will likely get marked as a resource if you continually provide great content. But….



Build an audience. Creating amazing content your audience loves only works if they know it’s out there. You need to use social media to build an audience so that you have a great number of people sharing your content. This may involve paying for views. Facebook has created an advertising tool that lets you get very granular in audience selection so as to place your content in front of the right eyes, not just any views.



Give your audience something to do. You built an audience, you’ve created awesome content but if you don’t ask, you wont receive. You must give them something to do. You see these types of requests a lot because they work:

“If you like what you’re seeing, join our email list.”

Allowing someone to come to your site, digest your content, and letting them leave without asking anything of them, is like smiling at someone at a drive-thru window and then getting upset they didn’t ask you out. You need to ask them to do something or give them something to do, otherwise they’re just passing through.

So give up the dreams of viral content by trying to understand the whims of the masses (after all, that’s the very design behind the “protection” of the electoral college, right?). Instead, concentrate on finding and building your audience, creating content that interests them, making sure they see it, and asking them to be a part of something bigger. That’s the way you win them over and keep them coming back.

Or ignore me and spend your afternoon taking pictures of articles of clothing in different lighting.

How to Tell Your Business Story. Start with One True Thing.

As a writer I often lament that all the good stories have been written. Every book is just a rendition of something that’s already been done.

As a traveler it often feels like all the frontiers (at least in this country) have been settled. Every place, mapped.

There’s a status quo to our thinking that lulls us all to sleep or drives us to seek something more interesting in our electronic pacifiers. But if you want someone to sit and take notice of you, you must have a story to tell.

The good news is we all have one. We have many. The hard part is deciding which one to tell. But that’s only really hard when you don’t know your audience. Knowing your audience should help you select the appropriate story that will resonate with them in much the same way you might select an outfit based on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing.

How to Tell Your Business Story in 5 Easy Steps

I’m not suggesting you make up stories to appeal to your audience. They must be true and that’s where you should begin with the one true thing you know (and the one true thing that will touch them).

Once you have your one true thing — your guiding theme for your story — consider your life experience. What situation exemplifies your theme?

Set the Stage

you need to set the stage when telling your story

What condition surrounded your one true thing? Who was involved? How did you lead up to it? Set the stage for what you learned by backing up a few scenes. Draw people in by painting a vivid picture of how things were before you learned what you did.

You Wanted Something

you must capture what you desire in storytelling

Often our greatest learning comes when we are pursuing something else. You’ve successfully set the stage, now talk about your motives. What did you want at that time more than anything? Hopefully it’s something others can identify with. Even if they can’t identify with your actual desire to achieve the particular item or standing, they can probably associate the desire to accomplish something or receive something, and you can frame your desire in those ways.

Something Happened

you faced difficulties

Very few of us got what we wanted on our first try. If we did we wouldn’t remember it very well. It’s the friction and failure that makes a good story and spurs us on to achievement. In your story you have to meet a struggle. It can be outward with another human being or inward, like struggling with extreme self-doubt. This is where your story is.

This is the fork in the road, people will stay with you to find out what happened. Without the challenge people are back to their cellphones and kitten videos.

You Received Inspiration

inspiration comes from many places

Even self-made successful people will tell you someone was there during the struggle who had an effect on them. I still remember a crush I had in second grade. He never talked to me but he had the most beautiful eyes. I adored him from a far, the way you should when you’re 7. One day I was involved in an altercation on the playground. I allowed my best friend, Joe, who was a towering head taller than everyone else to handle it for me. My crush overheard the scuttle. He walked over and his first words to me were, “What’s the matter, Christina? Can’t fight your own battles?”

My heart went from soaring that he knew my name to sinking as I heard the blame in his voice. Needless to say, I’ve only let someone fight my battles once.

John Michael had a profound effect on me that lives on today. You probably have someone like that too. Whatever your struggle is in the story you’re telling, you need to mention how you didn’t do it all alone. You had a mentor, a parent, a coach, or a book that provided that necessary sage to your story. The hero needs a Gandolf, Obi Wan, Yoda, Alfred, Glenda, Merlin, Nester, Senex…well, you get the idea.

You Got What You Wanted

tell your audience how you got what you wanted

Unless you’re writing a novel, your business story needs to end with the hero getting something. This is most likely the success that had made you into the expert you are but it could also be something less tangible like a realization. Still, give your story an ending. You need to satiate the audience’s desire for answers and a satisfying wrap-up.

It’s that easy. 

You already have that story in you. Now you just need to find some time to understand your audience and how that story will help you connect to them in a way that makes you a valuable resource to them.

After all, your story isn’t very effective if it is only about you.