The best way to create credibility lies in two simple actions:
• Think of your website as your “story”
• Live your story in social networks, media, YouTube videos, articles, guest spots and live venues
But there’s one key point here: Your story has to mirror your ideal customer or clients. Show her you totally understand her challenges and can provide what she has trouble providing.
In other words, both customers and clients have to be able to relate.
If you go back to our first exercise, where you thought of a professional that you connected with instantly after reading an article or a post on their website, that is most likely the reason – you found yourself saying: “It’s as if she was talking about me!” Or: “Yes! That’s EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to tell people I’m having trouble with!”
The best way to give your story credibility is to be real: Just tell it like it is.
Then edit out anything that doesn’t relate to your customers.
For example, they don’t need to know about your epiphany with bird-watching if your website is there to help them get into the best physical shape of your life – unless you tell your bird-watching story to demonstrate that unwittingly, as you were hiking miles of trails in search of the rare stomach-catcher warbler, you were toning your leg muscles and losing weight without thinking about it (relevance).
Here’s how to tell a great story – one that will resonate with your customer or client.
1. Find out their biggest concern, problem, desire or need
Don’t be hasty about this. Dig deep. Think about what you’re reading, hearing and what they are showing you.
For example, when a client says “I need someone to do my bookkeeping”, yes, he may mean it literally – but stop. Take the time to think about what is really underneath this comment. (Look for clues in other statements, complaints, questions – or just ask your client why!)
What they could really be saying is any of the following:
• “I hate bookkeeping. Mathematics makes me break out in hives.”
• “I can do it, but I don’t make money when I do my own books – I make it when I design a website.”
• “I feel frazzled and overwhelmed with my business.”
• “I need to keep in a creative-flow state of mind, and bookkeeping knocks me out of that.”
The really brilliant storytellers don’t just speak just to their clients’ visible problems: It’s when they tap into the hidden fear, desire or frustration underneath the surface – and address that hidden issue directly – that they create loyalty (and credibility).
2. Be yourself
Speak to your clients with your own voice. People who think they need to put on an “image” do exactly that – and people see through insincerity much quicker online than they used to, in the internet’s infancy.
When people read your articles or website posts, they should hear the same voice you use when you speak to them. In their minds, there should be no difference between reading what you’ve written and listening to your podcast.
3. Be ruthless
Not with your clients or customers: With your storytelling. If a sentence or paragraph doesn’t directly support, clarify, prove or reinforce your story’s main point or premise, kill it.
Cut out adjectives and adverbs too. Keep sentences short. (They’ll be easier for your readers to remember and accept.)
Avoid self-indulgence. Only tell an anecdote if it directly relates to your reader’s problem or need: If it elucidates the point your story is making.
Never tell anecdotes for the sake of “venting” or “sharing”: That’s what you do with your counsellor or coach, or your fellow mastermind group members – not with your clients or customers. The moment you vent or share, the story is all about you – not about your audience.
Reveal just enough to connect emotionally – just enough to use yourself as an example of your main point.
Focus on your client or customer.
4. Be repetitive.
Not like a broken record, but communicating in the way your audience has come to expect. Use templates to help create that repetitive consistency. Create regular, recurring features people can look forward to (and remember).
There’s a reason that little children love stories based on simple repetition.
Repetition means structure; and structure equals “safety”.
Safety equals credibility.
Even when you present wildly different theories or products, presenting them stamped with elements of repetition – your company colors, your logo, your price structure – helps to reassure those ready to take your exciting new step.
5. Be real.
So we’ve talked about repetition and consistency and safety for your audience. When it comes to you, however, be prepared to take risks. Reveal yourself if you want your customer to view you as a real person who actually does understand her life circumstances. If you sit comfortably, several stories above your customer, apparently having been perfect all your life, they will never relate to you (no matter how much they might envy you).
If they know you’ve had the same weaknesses, struggles, challenges and failures, it will mean much more to your customers when they see you now, having surpassed these. This is proof they can really do what you do; get to where you’re sitting.
That’s called “credibility” too – and it’s the most important sort: it’s emotional credibility.
It’s all about relevance. It’s not really about you (even if you’re positioning yourself as – we’ll use that archaic and outdated word – a guru): It’s only ever about your customer or client, and her particular journey.