5 Tips to Build Storybranding Confidence
Storybranding Marketing Tip #1: Be Specific with Your Questions
When I’m in the interviewer seat, which is often, I’m usually thinking of subtle nuances I can incorporate in the questions I ask people to get the most insightful, personal or surprising responses. Back in my CNN Entertainment days, instead of asking an actor what it was like working with Stephen Spielberg for the first time, a question that this person had likely been asked all year long, I’d ask, “What does Stephen do before every scene to help get you motivated and focused? What stands out the most to you about his directing? What did you learn about yourself from this experience?” The more specific the questions, the better. The more the questions give the interviewee an opportunity to paint a picture and take the viewer or reader on a journey, the better.
The same practice can easily be applied when writing a first-person narrative. Storytelling of any kind, in any form, begins when we start asking questions, not just of others, but of ourselves. Next time you’re creating a piece of content about your business, ideas, travels, hopes, awakenings, or vision for the future, ask yourself, “What experiences led me here? What were the triggers? What emotions was I feeling? What’s driving me to do this?”
Start with your motivation. The more specific the questions are, the better. The more you share your humanity, the better.
The more we all share our stories and gifts with one another, the more connected and empowered we are 💜 What story do you want to tell?
Storybranding Marketing Tip #2: Make Your Opening Pop with Clarity & Confidence
Early in my career when I produced TV segments, my colleagues and I typically opened a story with some natural sound or a powerful soundbite to set the scene and evoke emotion or intrigue in viewers. Years later, when I started writing for publications it never occurred to me to begin an article with the same practice, that is until an editor at BBC News sent me back a first draft I had written, and asked me to take another stab. It was the first time an editor hadn’t accepted a first draft of mine, or sent me any edits to incorporate for that matter. Thankfully, there wasn’t any time for my ego to feel bruised; I had a deadline to hit. To this day, his feedback has been invaluable to how I approach all of my writing, regardless of the medium.
“You only have a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention,” he said. Make your first two sentences captivating, and they’re more likely to stick with you and continue reading. In today’s noisy, ADHD world, if you don’t get them in the beginning you’ll lose them.”
So instead of opening my first paragraph with a big statistic or fact about an emerging technology I was covering, I visualized what the world would look like if the tech was being used everywhere. I let my imagination run wild. As best I could, I put myself in the shoes of someone benefiting from the tech, and I wrote the opening from their perspective. Most of all, I had fun. That’s the real key in all of this—letting yourself have FUN 🔑🥳
You need to let yourself enjoy the writing process as much as possible. Think of the page as your playground to create, even if you’re writing about an unfamiliar topic, and even when you’re afraid of how painful you think writing a piece of content is. Dive into the page the same way you would dive into a cold body of water on a blistering day—knowing that you’ll feel sweet relief as soon as you’re in it.
Be adventurous, compassionate, and attentive in your writing. You were born to create, and you have everything you need to create with clarity and confidence.
Storybranding Marketing Tip #3: Just Start Writing
In the immortal words of Nike, just do it. This might sound trite. But here's the thing, the number one pretend obstacle people let get in the way of creating a piece of work is procrastination, which is more often than not rooted in fear. As Dr. Tim Pychyl wrote in his book "Solving the Procrastination Puzzle," procrastination is not a time issue, it’s an emotional issue. It's a coping strategy to deal with negative emotions. Makes sense, right? Putting something off is easier than being brave, even though deep down we all know that without bravery there is no expansion.
Whenever I delay writing a story or procrastinate on my book writing it's not the writing itself I fear, it's the idea of not feeling that I’m good enough. It’s that I’m afraid I’ll start to feel inadequate if the writing doesn’t instantly flow out of me.
In these moments, the thoughts going through my head are usually one of the following:
- This is overwhelming. I don't even know where to begin.
- Nothing I'm saying is original and no one will care.
- I don't know this subject matter well enough to write about it, so I have to do a lot more research.
- This is harder than I thought. Maybe I just don't have any books in me.
All of these narratives are fear-based, and frankly, they're all BS because they’re not aligned with who I really am.
We are all creators. We're the creators of the stories we tell about our own self-worth and value to the world, and we're the creators and liv-ers of endless stories. If you believe you're a human being, you're a storyteller.
So just start writing. Be brave. Whenever you're in need of direction, reflect on your vision and the purpose of your content — who you want it to touch and why—and how you want them to feel when they absorb it. Just start writing...like no one is watching 😉 Your inner creative compass will guide you.
Storybranding Marketing Tip #4: If You Want to Know the End, Look at the Beginning
Like so many life situations, not every story ends all tied up in a pretty bow. Not everything comes full circle, at least not always in the way we hope it will. But whether we see it immediately or not, every scenario presents a key takeaway, meaning every story we tell offers an opportunity to share what we’ve learned, rather than let a dangling participle hang over us for eternity.
If you’re in the middle of writing a blog post, an essay, a report, or even a letter, and you’re not sure how to end it, go back to the beginning. Go back to why you started writing in the first place. Go back to the question you’re asking or the declaration you’re making. Maybe after processing and writing out possible answers to the question you’ll form a declaration, as well as a conclusion.
Write down what you’ve discovered from all the probing, research, interviewing, and self-exploration you’ve done so far. If you haven’t done any of those things this is your cue to get started. And remember that one of the greatest gifts of storytelling is that coming to a conclusion doesn’t mean the story is over. You can pick up where you left off by writing an entire blog series, or another chapter, or a sequel, or several. Our opportunities to learn and evolve never end. Neither do our stories.
Storybranding Marketing Tip #5: Empathy is Everything
As soon as your pen hits the page, all judgments of yourself, your characters, or your customers must cease. For a long time, I didn’t feel that I was writing anything worth reading unless I suffered during the process to some degree. It had to hurt to be real. I would agonize over how to start a paragraph. After I’d break the seal, the storytelling would flow. While the feeling that transpired in that instant was almost as satisfying as the crinkle sound my MacBook makes when I empty the trash, I’ll never get back all the time I wasted judging myself.
Why was there so much judgment? Fear and lack of empathy. I forgot to tap into my empathy for whoever it was I was writing about or the audience I was addressing. So of course I got stuck! Our empathy is what makes us human. It’s the glue of solidarity. In the same vein that storytelling sparks empathy, empathy is what makes storytelling possible.
If you’re an entrepreneur writing an article to share your perspective or expertise about your industry, empathy for your consumers will drive your starting point, language, tone, topics, and overall delivery. If you’re a fiction writer, developing characters for a story, empathy is your guiding light. Having empathy is how you and your characters expand. If your writing a personal essay about a struggle, triumph, awakening, or transformation that you’ve experienced, empathy is your truest friend. Your true friends feel with you. They laugh and cry with you. They don’t judge you. If we can be our own truest friends when we’re writing, or doing anything creative, or anything at all, satisfaction and flow are guaranteed.
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