The secret sauce of story: using story to get more clients and stand out from the competition

As freelancers, we also have to be marketers. We need to be able to sell our services, and clearly explain how we can help our clients – in language that they can understand.

To do this well we need to be storytellers. Behind every business there’s a story – it’s how we tell that story that makes people choose to listen – or not to.

Being a great storyteller is how you can stand out from all of the competition and the other freelancers out there, who offer similar services to you.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the story is all about you, but that’s a huge mistake. It’s about your clients. You need to tell stories where they are the heroes.

Your clients are mostly interested in solving their own problems. Stories will help you to communicate the value your services offer. How using your services can help them to solve their problems and how their lives will be improved afterwards.

Whether it’s on your landing pages, in-person meetings, or in blogs – you need to be telling your potential clients consistent, clear and engaging stories.

So if your client is the hero, what’s your role in the stories you’re telling?

Well you’re the trusted guide. The Gandalf to their Frodo, the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker…

This all relies on classic story structures that date back thousands of years. The hero has a problem to overcome – a dragon to slay – which will lead them to the happy ending they desire. 

Donald Miller has a great framework for using storytelling to get more clients and win more business.

In a nutshell, it goes like this:

👉 1. Identify the problem your clients face.

This should be the core problem that you solve with your services. 

👉 2. Agitate the problem

Once you’ve identified the problem, you need to stir it up a little. Bring to life how the problem makes your client feel. This helps the audience engage their emotions, and illustrates the value of the solution you’re about to offer.

👉 3. Position yourself as the solution

Now you’ve identified the problem and gotten your audience to engage with it emotionally, it’s time to appear with the solution – the action they can take to slay that dragon. this is where you can explain why you are perfectly positioned to help them resolve the story’s tension. 

👉 4. The Happy Ending

Now you can resolve the story by bringing to life the happy ever after that is waiting for them if they rise to the challenge. How much nicer life will be when the dragon is vanquished, and the problem is no more. In short, it’s time to explain how they will feel after they have used your service to resolve their problems.

As humans, we have evolved to engage with stories, which is why they are so effective. So if you want to capture someone’s attention, make sure you are using storytelling. 

You can use this kind of structure in most of your content. It’s especially effective on website copy – I’ve talked more about how you can use it to optimise your website to get more enquiries and clients here.

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How to Attract Your Ideal Clients as a Freelancer
Freelancers’ Guide to Crafting the Perfect Pitch Elevator