The secret to successful promotion is to tell your story.
Stories are powerful. Their unique combination of information and emotional hooks are the reason they’ve been around for thousands of years and are constantly passed on from generation to generation.
A well-told story makes people care, which is why your ability to tell stories is the key to attracting attention for your creations.
Different stories trigger different emotions, but when told well they all grab people’s attention, stick in their minds, and make an impact.
By comparison, raw information is often ignored or forgotten.
How many factoids do you remember or care about? How much basic information sticks with you?
Yet, when most creators promote their work they do so in social media posts, advertisements, and email blasts that equate to a simple information dump:
“Come to my show this week…”
“Watch my new video…”
“Join my email list…”
Those are examples of missed opportunities. The messages would be more effective if embedded into compelling stories fans (or potential fans) will be more likely to notice or care about.
Your individual stories will be unique and can be told in many different ways, but the most effective ones will reflect one or more of the following three archetypes.
Tell The Story Of Where You’ve Been
The people who know you are likely more interested in your work than people who don’t — and that’s because they have more context for what you’ve created.
The more people know about who you are, how you got here, and what led you to create the things you create, the more compelled they will be to care about it.
Don’t be afraid to tell stories that reveal those details.
The more you share your backstory, the more people will see similarities to their own and the more likely they are to care about your future.
The story of where you’ve been allows you to build interest in your work’s main character (you), and makes any stories you tell going forward more interesting to your audience.
- Filmmaker Kevin Smith’s fans relate to his background as a guy so passionate about making movies that he maxed out his credit cards to make Clerks.
- J.K. Rowling’s story of having Harry Potter rejected dozens of times before getting it published helped her resonate with fans of the book.
- Howard Stern’s backstory — as often told on his radio show and chronicled in the movie Private Parts — framed how millions of his fans perceive him.
Tell The Story Of Where You’re At
Creators tend to exaggerate the level of success they have when promoting themselves — that’s a mistake.
Be honest about where you’re at in your career (even if you just started a week ago) and tell the stories of what you’re actually going through at the moment.
The stories of an open mic comedian can be as interesting as the stories of a headlining comic…if they’re told well.
You know what’s not interesting? The stories of an open mic comedian who pretends to be more successful than they are.
If you haven’t yet “made it,” recognize what you may think is a storytelling challenge is actually an opportunity.
People connect to authenticity so share your current, real experiences as opposed to assuming you won’t have a story to tell until you’re rich and famous.
Most people aren’t rich and famous. They won’t relate to the stories of people who are as much as they’ll relate to those who are in the struggle.
(To see how I tell my story at the moment, check out my For The Interested newsletter.)
Tell The Story Of Where You’re Going
Dream big, set goals, and share them with the world.
People will be more likely to connect to and rally around you if they know where you hope to go and more importantly, why you want to go there.
There’s a reason social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk constantly references his desire to buy the New York Jets some day.
Does buying the Jets have anything to do with his business? Not really.
But, it’s become a big part of his story. His fans know it’s his dream because he shares that story and doing so helps make them root for him.
It also gives them a long-term story to follow for years to come.
These Stories Will Help You Get Noticed, Unless…
If you look for ways to tell your three stories and integrate them into your work, you’ll find it easier to grow the audience for your creations.
People will be more likely to discover, share, and support your work.
But it won’t be easy, won’t work unless you become a good storyteller, and won’t work if you’re not honest in your stories.
You’re not going to trick anybody into caring about you or your work.
It will take time, trial and error, and vulnerability. But it can be done and when you tell the right stories, amazing things can happen.