Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Mike Wittenstein on Storytelling and branding

How to Dramatically Improve Your Personal Branding from a Master Storyteller. From The Freelancer Community Magazine.

"One of the most important things to get right as a Freelancer is to establish a personal brand.
Not everyone can devote a ton of time fumbling through strategies on personal branding. Especially when your time is spent doing the technical work at hand.

Luckily, there are simple and clear ways to help improve every blogpost to better market and sell the product and services you offer.

In our social media age with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even SnapChat, big brands are leveraging these channels to tell their stories and to engage with their audiences to increase impressions.

One of the great things about the time we live in is that the medium that big brands like General Mills or publications like Vice Media are also available to Freelancers like us.

I believe that’s the primary reason why Freelancing, Digital Nomads and Independent Contractors are able to live remotely and still run their businesses no matter where they are.

In this great levelling between big budget marketing departments and the Solopreneur who would have the same reach and influence using social media and a personally set up website, it matters less about the medium and way more about what you say and don’t say.

And it goes without saying that “content is truly king”.  What you say, how you say it, how you tell your story is what makes a difference in affecting an emotion in your clients and prospects.

We Are Creatures Craving Stories

One of the the leaders and influencers in this space has been Storyminers, founded by Michael Wittenstein.  Mike’s core worldview is that the art and science of storytelling can massively support business owners and executives in telling their companies’ stories.  The stories that are uncovered through discovery serve as the identify of their business and translate down to the customers’ experience and the interaction with the brand, products and services.  At the end of the day, no matter how much money you have in your marketing budget, no matter who is your superior in your corporate hierarchy, the customer should be your ‘north star’.

This is what Mike and Storyminers does well:
“Mike Wittenstein advises leaders on how changes to their customer experiences can positively transform their brand narratives and their bottom lines. He is the managing partner at Storyminers, a design pioneer and developer of unique methods and tools for enhancing front-line customer experiences—and the only individual to hold top earned designations as a consultant (CMC), speaker (CSP), and customer experience expert (CCXP).”

In this in-depth interview with Mike, we asked him what the top Freelancers, Digital Nomads and Solopreneurs are doing and how they should be telling their story in order to maximum their efforts in personal branding.

Question 1: In your experience with supporting SMBs, Solopreneurs and Freelancers to come up with a better story and value proposition for their business, what would you say people most overlook during this process?

The most important thing to remember when sharing your story is to tell it from your future customer’s perspective. The value of your company and your personal abilities will connect more if it starts with the problems, struggles, hopes, and details of your future client’s situation.

For example, instead of saying “OUR Company offers the best website design around.”, consider “If you’re looking for a group with superpower listening skills that can turn what you say into a website that will turn heads, call OUR Company.” Can you feel the difference? Before saying that you’re good, explain the value you offer and how you’re good.

Question 2: Digital Nomads are fast becoming part of this “gig economy” and “sharing economy”. In this world where there are more people working for themselves, do you think using “story” is ever more important? If so, why?

Your story is what distinguishes you from all the other digital nomads. It doesn’t have to be the loudest, the prettiest, or the most provocative. But, it does have to be yours and you have to own it. Your story should feel natural and authentic to you. If it does, it will connect faster with your future clients.

Stories are better than traditional marketing communications because they can foster deeper connections. A good story should give people a feeling for you – your values, your principles, and the anticipation that working with you will be fulfilling and the results positive.

For example: if you are asked “Why should I/we hire you?”, you might reply “Well, several of my other clients in situations very much like yours have told me that they appreciate how quickly I zoom in on just the right issues. I’ve also heard that they like how I honor their principles and keep their internal teams energized. Oh, I can also inspire you with my HTML.” Whether you like this answer or not, don’t you get a distinct feeling of the person sharing it? That’s the power of story.

Question 3: For a person who is a 9-to-5 employee looking to break out on their own, what would you say is the ‘story’ they need to have drafted before they make the leap into freelancing?

A self-starter freelancer should have three stories:
 1. The story of a customer’s or client’s situation that you can help with
 2.  The story of what it’s like to work with you, and
 3. The story of you – you made yourself who you are, your values, and how recent changes are part of what makes you the best you that ever has been."

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