How Storytelling Helps You Make More Money
If you want to make more money, storytelling will help. Why? Because human nature is human nature. EVERYONE wants a happy ending. If your business creates (and communicates) a happy ending through the power of storytelling, the world will beat a path to your door.
The first (and most important) skill for creating a business that goes to seven figures and beyond is the art and science of commercial storytelling.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
- Why storytelling is so important for attracting an audience and creating sales
- The three layers of story that come together to create the “click” in your business
- What happens when you create the “click”
- How to create it faster
- Why it’s difficult for entrepreneurs to create the “click” on their own
- How Gateway to Seven will help you create the click in a matter of weeks
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Welcome to episode four of How to Make More Money, a podcast that helps you get seriously good at the game of making serious money. I’m your host Kelly Hollingsworth, and I’m so glad you’re here. If you were with us for the last episode, you know we laid the foundation for learning these seven skills that create an income that goes to seven figures and beyond.
Today, we’re diving in with the first and most important skill, and it is… wait for it… THE ART AND SCIENCE OF COMMERCIAL STORYTELLING. Now, you may have heard that storytelling is a great way to write sizzling marketing copy that cuts through the noise and attracts an audience. And this is true, but storytelling is not just a way of writing your marketing copy. That’s a very effective thing to do, but it’s not just about that.
When I talk about commercial storytelling, what I mean is that a story is a path from an unhappy starting point to a happy ending. “From here to happy” is how I commonly say that. And successful businesses know this. Maybe they don’t know it consciously, but on a conscious or subconscious level they’re operating from this knowledge, because what they’re doing is taking their customers to that happy ending. So storytelling is where you find the click in your business, and to illustrate what I mean by the click, I’ll tell you a little story.
A colleague of mine named Jody blogged for eight years to a nonexistent audience. Only her mom read her blog. She would post a blog post and she’d get up in the morning and she would see a comment from her mother. And then after eight long years, something clicked. That’s exactly how she described it. “I don’t know what happened,” she said, “but something clicked.” And now she’s a seven-figure earner. So what is this mysterious click, and how can you create it faster? Jody stabbed around in the dark for eight years until she happened into it by accident.
And what I’d like for you to know is that it doesn’t have to happen by accident. When you know what it is, you can create the click on purpose, and it doesn’t have to take eight years. It can be done in a matter of weeks. So what exactly is the click? It is three layers of story snapping into place. This is why creating a seven-figure business can feel so difficult. How many bad movies have you seen? Hollywood has a tough time, with all of their expertise, getting one story right. A business that goes to seven-figures and beyond has three layers of story in it, and they are perfectly aligned.
So what are these layers?
The Three Layers of Story that come together to create the “Click” in every successful business
The first layer of story in every successful business is the layer that I call GOING THROUGH HELL. In this layer, you get clarity about the commercial value of your lived experience. You had a big problem in your life and you walked through the fire and you crawled over the broken glass to figure out how to solve it. And that journey, getting to the other side of the problem you solved in your own life, is the thing that you offer in the marketplace.
This brings me to the next layer of story. That’s THE STORY YOU TELL. This is the message where you communicate to the marketplace the journey that you’ve been on and it’s a value and the meaning behind it.
And the third layer of story is THE JOURNEY YOU SELL. This is where you offer to guide your customers on the same journey that you went on, and that you’ve been talking about in your marketing copy. When all three layers of story match up perfectly–your experience of going through hell matches the story you tell, and that lines up with the journey you sell–that creates the click that creates every successful business.
Why the Three Layers of Story Open the Floodgates in Your Business
Why does the click flip the switch and open the flood gates in your business? Because the click means that your customers can hear, and they believe, that their happy ending lies in working with you. You’re talking about their happy ending that they want, and they believe that you can get them there because you have been through that exact transformation yourself.
Examples of 7-Figure Businesses that Used The Three Layers of Story to Create the “Click”
There are famous examples of the click in every industry.
Weight Loss Coaching
In weight loss coaching, for example, Corinne Crabtree lost 100 pounds. And now she hosts a podcast called Losing 100 Pounds to offer her weight loss coaching program in which she helps women lose a hundred pounds. Maybe not exactly that amount, but you get the idea. All three layers of story are in alignment. She went through hell and successfully got to the other side. That’s the story she tells. And in the journey she sells, she makes it easier for other women to do the same because she’s already walked through fire and dragged herself across the broken glass. Her clients can do it faster, more efficiently and with more ease that comes from having her as their guide.
Brenda Lomeli is another example. She struggled to lose the last 10 pounds. She did it and now she can wear anything she wants. Any high dollar high style outfit she wants is hers for the wearing. She has a podcast called, wait for it, The Last 10 Pounds. And she sells a program for women who want to do the same thing, lose the last 10 pounds without pulling their hair out or struggling as long as Brenda had to. Her experience of going through hell matches the story she tells, which matches the journey she sells. A successful coaching business is a great way to illustrate the three layers of story, because story is about transformation and coaches are in the business of creating transformation. That’s all they do, so the layers are very clear in a coaching business.
Your own invention (such as Barbecue Sauce!)
But the click that comes from the three layers of story can be found in any business.
If you spent your life searching for the perfect barbecue sauce, and you couldn’t find it and you find had to invent it for yourself, and you talk about that in your marketing copy, then people will buy the perfect barbecue sauce from you because they don’t have to walk over the broken glass on their own.
Dave Ramsey’s Debt-Free Scream is a famous example of the three layers of story creating the “click” that creates cash
You’ll often see the three layers of story that create the click in finance. I definitely saw this in hedge funds over and over again. But they’re not really publicly discussed, so let’s look at Dave Ramsey’s debt-free scream. This is something everyone knows. It’s probably the best example of the click in the marketplace today. If you listen to his podcast or his radio show, you’ll hear him talking about his journey from bankruptcy, using the process he invented to get out of debt.
This is Dave going through hell. The next thing you’ll hear in his podcast is his guests talking about their own journey. This is the debt-free scream. This is the story that he tells. People get on his show and they say, “We were in debt too. We were on the verge of bankruptcy too. And we went through Dave’s process to get to our happy ending.” And this story culminates in what Dave calls the debt-free scream, where people scream, “I’m debt-free!” on his podcast. And what happens? Then he takes them on the same journey through Financial Peace University. That’s the journey he sells. It is the exact same journey that he lived, that he talks about in his podcast. And people buy it because they want that happy ending for themselves. When these three layers of story came into perfect alignment, then Dave had the click.
It’s not an accident that his business is the cultural phenomenon that it is right now. But one thing that’s interesting about the click for Dave is that it happened by accident, as it usually does. He’s just like my colleague, Jody. I heard him say on his podcast once that the debt-free scream was not invented inside of the Ramsey organization. A woman called up. She talked about how she had used his process to get out of debt, and at the end of it, she screamed, “I’m debt-free!” into the phone. And then the producers of the show thought, “Hmm, maybe we have something here.” And there it was. Dave had the click. The debt-free scream was born. And now his audience voraciously consumes that same story over and over again. We can’t get enough of it, even though we know how it ends, because we all want that happy ending. We want to live it and hear it. And we want to do it over and over again.
Why we love stories (and want to consume them endlessly)
Why do we love stories so much, even when we know how they end? Why do we love them so much? Our brains are hardwired to love stories, because stories are artistic expressions of human growth. As humans, we love to see other humans grow. Why? Because that means that we can grow ourselves, and that’s what we all want to do. That’s why storytelling is the first skill for making serious money. If you want to create a business that is certain to succeed, offer and deliver a happy ending to your clients. So now let’s talk about why it’s not easy to create the click. When someone gets it, right, it’s completely obvious. You hear about Corinne or Brenda and their weight loss programs, or Dave Ramsey and the debt-free scream, and you think, Well, that’s completely obvious. Of course, they would sell that product and talk about that journey in their marketing copy because that’s the journey that they lived.
But it can take forever to get clarity on the commercial value of your lived experience and to line it all up in the right order so that other people are clear about what you’re communicating and why they should get involved with it, and how it’s going to help them.
Why it’s Difficult to Line up the Three Layers of Story in Your Business
Every story is an artistic expression of human transformation. Every story is about a human being reaching a new place, a happy ending, through personal growth. Because a story is a depiction of human growth, every story follows exactly the same pattern. There are events or features called “beats” in every story that match up with the same events or features, the same beats, in every other story. When the three layers of story in your business come into alignment, it’s because the beats in layer one match up with the beats in layer two, which match up with the beats in layer three.
This is complicated if you don’t know the exact beats in a story. They always are there, though. For example, every story involves the hero in the story crossing the threshold into the new world where his or her major growth will occur.
The crossing of the threshold is a key moment in the character’s growth, and it goes into a very particular place in the story. As with any story beat, if it weren’t there, we would know something was wrong. You will see this beat prominently featured in every blockbuster film. In the movie Legally Blonde, Elle Woods crosses the threshold when she drives over the bridge into Cambridge to attend Harvard Law School. In the movie The Blind Side, Michael Oher crosses the threshold when he walks under the gates of Wingate School to start his new life with the Tuohy family at his new school. In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne crosses the threshold when he takes the train to Switzerland to find out about a Swiss bank account, the number of which was surgically removed from his hip.
This is what struggling screenplay writers and novelist hate. They hate that story is a formula. But when you consider that every story is a depiction of human growth, it becomes apparent that every story must follow a formula. Why? Because every human grows exactly the same way. And if we’re describing how humans grow, all the stories have to follow that same pattern. It has to be the case that humans all grow the same way because we’re all the same species. So stories all have to follow that same pattern.
If this seems farfetched, picture a field of daisies. They all grow the same way from seed to sprout to flowering plant. I don’t know all of the stages, and I’m guessing you aren’t super familiar with them either. I’m sure the level of nuance there is staggering, but there’s one thing I’m sure we can agree on. If we have before us an entire field of daisies, would we expect any of them to grow differently? No. Why not? It just isn’t the way growth goes.
Every individual creature or plant within a given species grows exactly the same as every other. If any of them was wonky due to a genetic mix up of some kind, we would notice it, and we would know that something was off, even if we didn’t know why it was wrong.
This also happens with storytelling. We’re humans. We know when someone gets human growth wrong, even if we don’t know exactly what’s wrong. Picture yourself at the movies. We expect to see certain beats, even if we don’t know what they are exactly, because each beat in the story is another phase of human growth, and we know what human growth should look like.
You may be sitting in the theater ( or more likely these days at home, on the couch), watching a movie that isn’t quite working, and you know something’s off when the beats are missing or out of order. Why? Because you know you don’t like it. You might say, “I don’t know where this is going.” You might say, “This is stupid.” Whatever you say, it feels frustrating even if you don’t know exactly what’s gone awry. You just know that it’s wrong or something is missing. My husband hates to watch movies with me because when something isn’t working, I tell him why. And then he becomes even more focused on what isn’t working rather than enjoying the parts of the movie that are working. But in any case, this illustrates why it’s so difficult for entrepreneurs to get the three layers of story into alignment.
Unless you’ve been trained in the art and science of commercial storytelling, where are you? Stabbing around in the dark. You know it’s not working, but you don’t know why. And then what happens? Eight years of blogging in isolation with only your mom reading your posts until something clicks, if that happens for you. Most entrepreneurs never make it to the click. Yes, a story can come together with all three layers of story matching up and all the beats present and accounted for and in the right order. But how often does that happen on accident? Not very often. This is why most businesses fail. They can’t “get their stories straight,” so to speak, and they die on the vine for lack of cashflow and ever-dwindling enthusiasm.
So here’s what you need to know. The first skill of a business that goes to seven figures and beyond is the art and science of commercial storytelling. It’s a skill acquired over decades. And if you don’t have time to acquire a skill, what can you do? You can buy it. In my signature coaching program called Gateway to Seven, the first thing we do is get your stories straight. I help you bring all three layers of story into alignment with all beats present and accounted for and in the right order, and that creates the click. How do I help you do this? I invented a process that does for you in about eight weeks what took my colleague Jody eight long years.
When you go through this process, you will experience what one client described as, “An effing revolution in my brain.” Everything becomes clear. The fog lifts. You’re no longer confused about how to describe what you do and the commercial value your business creates. Suddenly, you tap into the meaning behind your business in a way that draws everyone closer to you. They all want what you’re offering. And then the sky is the limit.
That’s why this is the first thing I help you do in Gateway to Seven. Consider it millionaire school. It’s just like law school. You want to be a lawyer, you go to law school. You want to earn millions of dollars, you come to Gateway to Seven and you learn to create millions of dollars.
So that’s what I have for you today. And now, if you want to learn the second skill for creating a business that goes to seven figures and beyond, join me for the next episode. I’ll tell you what it is. And thank you so much for being here today.