March 31, 2016

How Telling Your Story Translates to Sales

How Telling Your Story Translates to Sales

There’s a lot of talk in the branding and business worlds these days about story telling. And every day I read long, involved stories from business owners who lead with their life experiences – who use their own journeys as the basis for presenting their products.


And last week, I had an interesting question from a reader:


“How does finding a unique story translate into actual sales?”


It’s a great question, and it’s the same question you should be asking about every aspect of your marketing program. How does this actually help me to sell something?


If you come to my blog regularly, you know that I’m a strategist. I believe that strategy trumps everything. And a story is a tactic. It’s a tool that’s used in service of an overall strategy.


Your story is not the strategy.


Last Monday I wrote a blog called Are You Trying to Sell Your Product? Or the Transformation?. In it, I promote the power of selling NOT your product – but rather, selling what will happen to your potential customer AFTER he or she uses your product.


You’re not selling your thing… you’re selling the transformation it will facilitate.


Let me give you an example. Say you sell wellness teas, like one of my clients. Folks might buy wellness teas for general wellness. But they would be more inclined to buy them if the teas provided an actual transformation – from pain to satisfaction. And my client’s teas do.


If you’re often sleepy in the afternoon, her teas will provide you with an extra boost of energy, in a natural and healthy way. You’ll transform from feeling groggy or foggy, to feeling vital and alive. And it’s this transformation that my client must sell, in order to really turn on a potential buyer. She’s not selling tea, she’s selling “from groggy to alive.”


“But wait,” you say… “I asked about MY story. Not story of the tea. Not the story of the client or the product.”


And here’s the tricky part about story telling that many small business owners and online marketers are failing to pick up…


If you’re using it in your business communications, it’s NEVER really your story.


Even the story about you is actually a story about your client.


Your story is a powerful demonstration or affirmation of the transformation your client is seeking.


“Waaaiit a minute, Juju,” you now say. “I am AUTHENTIC. I am not cheesy or salesy or manipulative. I want to tell my story so people will connect with me. I want it to be real.”


It should be real. It should be authentic.


And if you own a business and you’re putting it on a website, it should also sell your product.


If you have an authentic, heart-wrenching story that does not sell product, then use if for your memoir, not your website.


I’ve been in marketing and advertising all my life, and I can tell you two things with absolute certainty:


  1. People won’t read most of what you write.
  2. What they do read, they will read because they’re seeking something for themselves.


So, how can you write a unique story that leads to actual sales?


1.  Show your own transformation as validation for the transformation your product promises. My tea client? She used to live in China. And in the afternoons, she found herself sleepy and groggy. And at the time, she was studying Chinese herbs. So she tested the herbs until she came upon a formula that gave her energy and vitality during the hours she wanted to lie under her desk. And she was so excited about her own transformation that she decided to create a tea so she could share her newfound vitality with women everywhere. Her story validates her client’s need for a transformation. And her ability to sell it.


2.  Demonstrate how you led someone else through the transformation. Not everyone likes self-revelation. If you fall in that category, then tell the story of someone else whom you led through the transformation your client is seeking. If you helped a mom with post-partum depression overcome shame and confusion in the most challenging time of her life, and that mom now has a blissful relationship with her five-year-old and a booming business of her own, then tell her story – and your role in it. So long as you demonstrate the transition your client will experience through your products.


3.  Position yourself as the expert – or as someone who knows the expert. If your story is that you once were a high-powered corporate marketing executive who burnt out on corporate life and decided to build your own business, where you coach, teach, and inspire small business owners because it’s more fulfilling and helped you find your life’s purpose (oh, wait… that’s my life story) – then you demonstrate that you’ve made the successful transition to business owner, and that you can facilitate it. If you’re not an expert, you can write a similar story about knowing an expert, interviewing an expert, or being mentored by an expert.


4.  Bring a level of outrage to your story. I love a blogger named Isabel Foxen Duke. She writes about the “diet culture” in our society and how we must separate ourselves from this culture – and learn to love our bodies – before we can experience any significant change in our relationships with food. Isabel had an eating disorder, and her story is inspiring. But what I like most about her is that every email she sends has an element of outrage – of anger that society pushes and presses us into something we need not be. When I read her emails, I get angry. And in my anger, I feel justified in taking on a new story that will transform my life… the story of the product and the philosophy that Isabel sells.


5.  Inspire. Maybe you’re a badass. Maybe you’ve been a catalyst for much-needed social change. Maybe you broke down and rose up again. Maybe you felt like an ugly-duckling, and now you’re a mother-f’ing swan. If your story is inspirational, you can motivate your readers and prospects to act. But there’s a word of caution here: you must include your prospects in the story – they must see themselves in the product you are selling as it relates to the story. Or, you must allow them to be part of the inspiration (through giving back or being part of something larger), as they make their own transformation through your products.


So, HOW? How do you use the story to lead to action?

  1. Sell the transformation first.

  2. Back it up with your story.


Remember that the real estate on your home page that lies above the fold is about your client.

It’s about that transformation your client will undergo.

It’s about the move from pain to pleasure that the client is seeking.


Your story comes later. It supports. It demonstrates. It generates emotion. It motivates. And even though it’s about you… it’s all about the client.


So, what’s your story? Share with me in the comments below.

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27 thoughts on “How Telling Your Story Translates to Sales

  1. Lucy says:

    Brilliant. The post I wish I’d written! Good one.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Thanks, Lucy. So touched that you’re reading along.

  2. Wow – Yet another sploozy article!

    As the storyteller, I came to realise it’s often more potent to speak as if Yoda than Luke Skywalker

    My detailed & emotional back story makes me the ideal enabler, the wise guide who leads the hero, points the way & calls them to action towards THEIR transformation … making the client the hero

    A backstory can lead to a ‘signature system’ – a ‘proprietary process’ birthed in another galaxy far far away, and now you are but the tour guide who knows the hidden stepping stones, an advocate who is ready & willing to kick a hole through the wall of the maze

    Not being the hero of the story kinda takes the pressure off

    Don’t know if you agree with that positioning Madam Juju?

    1. Julia Hook says:

      I love it, David. The “signature system” concept is so powerful. And the fact that you know your exact role in the story — that it’s deliberate, strategic AND emotional — makes it powerful right off the bat. You don’t have to be the hero — co-creating with your client is an amazing way to tell a story that’s absolutely inspiring. Good for you.

  3. Allie Mae says:

    “Maybe you felt like an ugly-duckling, and now you’re a mother-f’ing swan”

    Awesome as always Juju!

    I’m slowly building my confidence (thanks in part to reading sensible, effective blogs like yours) to come out of my shell and start being the “mother-f’ing swan”. I’ve always felt no-one cares about little old me; so I can market someone else’s business, but struggle marketing myself because let’s face it, ‘who the f*** am I?”. I’ve taken 6 years to get round to converting my website from a crappy home page into the epic Swan Lake it should. Getting the balance right is tough when selling yourself.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Allie. Selling yourself isn’t easy. I often hire others to help me with the writing on the “salesy” side, because I have trouble doing it for myself. I feel super comfortable with the content, but I trip over selling myself sometimes. So I do know what you mean. And “Bravo!” on nailing your Swan Lake. I’m happy for you and proud of you for putting yourself out there. I can assure you that LOTS of people will care about you…

  4. Amazing Juju!!! Thank you so much for this! Love how you simplified this process ! <3

    1. Julia Hook says:

      You’re so welcome, Georgia. I love that you love it.

  5. Judy Ebert says:

    Juju, your email is consistently the most relevant message in my inbox each week. And here you are again … Thank you.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      That’s an amazing compliment, Judy. Thank you. I am really touched. And so glad that you’re getting something out of the blog.

  6. Dean Reardon says:

    Absolutely brilliant. I related. Now it is time for a cup of tea (Herbal) Green tea.
    Good job.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Thanks, Dean. Means the world to me.

  7. Love it …. I felt as though you were talking directly to & about me. I’ve been down there, so low after a failed 20 year marriage, that I felt totally worthless….who am l .. If not the wife …. Several years later I AM KATHRYN… a survivor & mother to 4 young men – & I’m going to make my cosmetics business a crazy ass necessity. Feel beautiful inside & you are beautiful outside ….. Keep the pep talks coming Juju …I’m hooked

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hey, Kathryn. I love your dream of making your cosmetics a crazy ass necessity. BAM. Thanks for reading along. I’m so glad you’re here.

  8. Jay says:

    Blown Away! Your amazing!?

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Awww, thanks so much, Jay. I really appreciate that. You have no idea.

  9. Adina says:

    Loving your posts and the way you write- so engaging and interesting! I have many ‘aha’ moments as I read what you’re putting out there. Sounds like I need your clients tea- can you share the brand?

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Adina! Send me an email at and I’ll hook you up with my tea client. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the posts!

  10. Wow this my first time on this blog and.I am both terrified and inspired to begin building my brand. Looking forward to reading and learning more.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Parise. Welcome! Don’t be terrified…even for a second! Building a brand is so much fun — and such a game-changer for your business. I hope you’ll join me this week for the webinar. I’ll share some of my best secrets about how you can create a brand that really connects. I’m so glad you’re here. And that you’re about to embark on what is a super cool journey.

  11. Arlene says:

    Perfect! It really is always about your clients. Your article is a terrific reminder — Thanks Juju!!

  12. Sandra says:

    Merci, Juju!

    I am creating my landing page for my next product, and I don’t know if you believe in synchronicity, but I was completing my «Who am I». I was about to go with the «all I say means nothing to you but means everything to my ego»… you know that «memoir» thing you were talking about… So now, I pretty happy with the results!! 🙂

    You are a champion!

  13. Kati says:

    Thanks JuJu for clarifying! I fell into the current “trend” or perhaps misunderstanding of promoting your personal hero’s journey. It didn’t quite feel right in adding it to my website. I now understand how to rewrite it. Thanks everyone for feedback.


  14. Barbara says:

    I am a 57 year old nurse ready to make a change in my career. I would like an online business but I don’t know where to begin. I am also a holistic practitioner who practices natural health. My target audience/consumer could almost be everyone. Where do I begin?

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hey, Barbara! Thanks for commenting and sharing. I’ve got a very cool place for you to begin… I’m pulling together a group of 15 experts who are going to speak on this very topic. Watch for an email from me. I sent the first one this morning at 6:00 a.m. I’ll be sending others over the next couple of weeks. You can jump into the event for free. And you will learn a TON about where to get started, resources you can access, and how it all works.

  15. Steph Hynds says:

    “It’s about that transformation your client will undergo. / It’s about the move from pain to pleasure that the client is seeking. As a sales leader, that is exactly what I always tried to convey to my team. It’s powerful. The way I actually stumbled upon it (my story) is that I was horribly shy. I quickly learned that if I put the focus on my client, it completely took the pressure off. Thinking about them, helping them, focusing on their needs transformed me from an introvert into a badass salesperson. And, hey — it’s the right thing to do. Now I’m trying to bring this nebulous thing that I do into the online world, trying to convey the same warmth and create the same bonds. Not easy for someone who is not comfortable making it about themselves, and yet it’s essential if they’re to trust me, since we’re not sitting across the table from each other . “Remember that the real estate on your home page that lies above the fold is about your client. / Your story comes later. It supports. It demonstrates. It generates emotion. It motivates. And even though it’s about you… it’s all about the client.” Thanks for the advice. Awesome as always, Juju!

  16. Kelly Clark says:

    I’m trying to cause personal transformation in people when they come to believe “Everyone has infinite worth” and then act accordingly. My life has been transformed since I heard this infinite worth concept in October 2015. I think and act differently now that I believe everyone has infinite worth and I keep that thought on the front burner, not the back burner. I now tell people they have infinite worth. It’s a bit of an abstract concept that not everyone “gets” (or cares about: WIIFM) so I’m trying to make it concrete as I prepare to launch my company. As I proceed it will help me greatly to “Sell the transformation first” and then “Back it up with your story.” Thank you Juju for the help!

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