Right now in the marketplace, competition is tougher than ever, and the market is becoming increasingly challenging for businesses to stand out to their audience.
Use your core story to position yourself as a Category of One no one can duplicate. As not only a free, unique asset, your core story is also an effective tool for building more meaningful connections with your community.
Your core story is about who you are as a person and why you do what you do. This includes your motivation of why you started your business, the obstacles you faced along the way and how you overcame those hardships. Your core story explains the who, why and how behind your business.
1. Share your struggles
The struggles you experienced are an important part of your core story. Sharing them with your audience positions you as someone who not only understands their challenges but also shows compassion. People don’t want to buy a solution from someone who doesn’t care about those who have the problem, or hasn’t experienced the problem. Letting them know you’ve faced the same struggles adds credibility and compassion to you and your business.
Some of the most famous figures in the world have well-documented struggles before their successes. She’s now one of the richest people in the world, but Oprah Winfrey grew up poor, having been physically abused and encountered prejudice and opposition along her journey. Her story added to her authenticity as a talk show host who interviewed people from all walks of life. Similarly, Steve Jobs faced hardships when he was fired by Apple. He eventually returned to make the company a success with perseverance and out-of-the-box thinking.
See your past struggles as strength, not a burden. The key is to share only the struggles you’ve already overcome and turned into strengths, and not your current ones. Sharing struggles while in them can have a disempowering effect on your audience when speaking. People aren’t looking for a perfect person. They want someone they can relate to.
2. Remain inspirational
Share your wins and accomplishments in your core story. Be open about your hardships, but don’t lose your positioning as someone your community can aspire to be. Use your core story to empower your audience and show you’ve succeeded despite your hardships. You want to leave them with the feeling that if you can do it, then they can do it too.
People follow others who they want to be more like, or do what they wish to do or have what they wish to have. You’ll lose your audience if you don’t include success stories with your struggles. Own your accomplishments, but do so humbly.
3. Sell yourself and your story
Your core story helps you sell yourself. Although you sell products and services, people are ultimately buying you and what you stand for. Your core story directly influences their buying behavior and whether they’ll choose to know, like and trust you.
Take a look at Harley-Davidson, which is a business known for their motorcycles. They are the quintessential American company for rebels and those who don’t fit into society’s norm.
When you have a core story ingrained in your loyal, raving fans, magic happens. Harley-Davidson was in danger of bankruptcy, but their followers weren’t just customers. They had a movement of bikers who went to bike rallies and prevented Harley-Davidson from going out of business.
A powerful core story can spark a movement, and when it does, your raving fans will keep you going long after you want to quit.
If used properly, your core story dramatically transforms your business. Having the best possible product is important, but in a competitive market, having a strong core story is just as crucial to be top of mind, and more importantly, top of heart of the marketplace.
4. Be Personal
Sharing your story and being vulnerable can be intimidating. But the business environment has changed and people care about who they invest with. Truth and transparency is the name of the game. Your community wants to know all of you and not just parts of you where there’s no distinction between professional and personal lives. You must be transparent and allow some access to your personal life whether through your social media posts, speaking engagements or charitable works to make meaningful connections with your community.
Consumers support brands owned by people they believe in. A core story aligning with your tribe’s values and beliefs is paramount to being a successful entrepreneur. Be personal and transparent and allow your true fans to gobble up everything that you do. You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person and you can’t say the right thing to the wrong person, so just be you and allow your people to follow you.
5. Craft your core story
If you haven’t already, figure out your core story. Think back to your journey from the beginning and write down your struggles that shaped who you are and your most significant and meaningful accomplishments. What motivated you to become an entrepreneur? What hardships did you go through along the way? How has your life changed for the better and how will you help others do the same?
Once you have your story, hone in on the parts most relevant to your brand. Make your story relatable, inspirational and most importantly, honest and authentic.
Competitors can try and copy your products and business strategies, but your core story is an asset unique to you. Your story can give you the competitive advantage you need in an increasingly saturated market.