Telling stories is a great way to connect with your audience, and for life coaches, business stories illustrate the struggles and successes we all share.
It doesn’t matter if you are on stage, teaching a class, writing an email to your list, recording a podcast or writing a blog post. Business storytelling could and should should play a big part of your content creation and marketing strategies. But how do you come up with those stories in the first place? Here are seven tips to help you keep the business story ideas flowing so you can find just the right one for just about any situation.
Share A Recent Encounter
Often the best story are happening to you and all around you. Think about a client who is successful in her achievements? Can you tell her story as an example to newbies? What is the best coaching conversation you ever had? Or which complement from a client meant the most to you? And why was that story most meaningful?
Recall A Conversation
Conversations offer great story ideas. Without going into too many details or sharing too much information about the person you were talking to, what was the underlying message of the conversation in your storytelling. Example: One parent, who called me, was frustrated her their three-year-old daughter was always singing, dancing, and seemed “overly” playful. The daughter was a total contrast to their eldest daughter, aged ten, who mom described as most like the parents. Parents and older daughter liked to read, study the stars, read science-type magazines. The younger child shared few, if any, interests with the parents and older sister. I shared with the parents how there are different temperaments, and because the older sister was an intellectual, didn’t mean that the second child would be of the same temperament. No, the younger child was the talkative, creative, dancing ballerina.. They got it, and I didn’t hear from them until ten years later. Now older daughter is thirteen and younger daughter is six. Mom called to share how the knowledge of temperaments changed their lives. They started offering the younger child outlets for her dancing body and creative brain, as they offered the older child classes and experiences in which her strengths could flower.
Dig Deep and Share A Childhood Memory
Childhood memories are another great source of story ideas. The memories that stick with us from way back when are often the ones that taught us a valuable lesson or had a significant impact on who we are today. Think back to what you remember from your childhood and how you can tie those memories into what you’re doing today.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
Stories are going on all around us. Pay attention to the situations and conversations people have around you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many story ideas you’ll get just by paying attention your surroundings. Example: I went to the hospital when I felt sharp pains crackle cross my chest. Heart attack? Not sure! Go to bed or go to the emergency room? Go to the hospital. Over five hours, I was admitted, assigned a bed, tested, and the doctor finally arrived in the early morning to tell me the news.
“You have a pulmonary embolism.”
“And that is….?”
“You have a blood clot in your lungs.”
Carry A Little Notebook
We’ve established that there are conversations around us from which we draw a story theme. as you observe those stories, which are memorable that would be a good fit with the content or product. Stick a little notebook and pen in your purse, briefcase or jacket. Keep it with you and jot down short notes about ideas, thoughts, conversations and situations that have storytelling potential.
Listen To Your Family and Friends
Pay attention to your loved ones. They are sharing stories with you on a regular basis. Listen to your kids when they come home from school. Sit down for an after-school snack, and ask them about their day. You’ll have an almost never-ending supply of storytelling material. Listen with rapt attention to feel their emotions and exemplify those feelings in your story, as they are genuine and believable. Keep looking for new ideas and keep telling those stories to grow your business, connect with you readers and make the sale.
We have all fallen victim to erroneous thinking. Sometimes we use it on purpose to make ourselves feel better about making a bad choice. Well, defiant children know how to use them to. However, if the errors in thinking are not challenged, the pattern can be detrimental later in life.
Children don’t see things the same way that parents do. Without the benefit of years of experience, they act on emotion and instinct. In particular, defiant children want what they want and don’t mind using negative tactics to get it from parents. It is all about them. Instead of evaluating a situation to see all sides, they only consider how they feel. Children with mental disorders like Oppositional Defiant Disorder can get caught in a bad cycle. They start acting on these thinking errors and things spiral out of control from there. As long as you feed into their way of thinking with your behavior or responses, they will continue to manipulate, yell, scream, and terrorize others. The solution is to get help.
Thinking Errors Defiant Children Use
All of us have experienced erroneous thinking. Sometimes we use it on purpose to make ourselves feel better after making a wrong choice. However, one habit of defiant children is using such thinking errors as excuses or reasons for their desires or behaviors. As parents and parenting coaches, our role would be to challenge the error-prone thinking, lest it becomes habitual.
The Mind of a Child
Children and parents don’t often see eye-to-eye. Children act on instinct and emotion. Parents respond from their years of experience. Children want what they want, and defiant kids and may use negative tactics to get what they want from you. Defiant children are absorbed in their needs. They are capable of knowing only how they feel at that moment, and they don’t evaluate a situation to see all sides. They haven’t matured to that point yet. Children, diagnosed with a mental health issue, can get caught in a negative cycle. They start acting on these thinking errors, and a situation can quickly spiral out of control. If you feed into the thinking errors, then you also get caught up in their behavior. They could continue manipulation through yelling and screaming.They could terrorize everyone around them. The solution is to get help.
Parents Know These Four Thinking Errors
- The road to healing could be long; the first step is to understand your children.
- The second phase is to know how they think.
- The third step is to observe and understand how they get their way.
Injustice stance: This is the thought that the entire world is against the defiant child. When things don’t go their way, then nothing is fair, and they shouldn’ have to comply. This thinking translates into this kind of logic in your child’s head: “School sucks. Therefore, I don’t have to go.” A defiant child can also be passive-aggressive. If not heard, then moving too slowly in the morning means they get their way and stay home from school.
Pride in Negativity Stance: Defiant kids can convince themselves that they know more than their parents. Defiant kids are perfect for making their point in statements of which their parents aren’t aware. They could say a lot of hurtful words. They learned how to steal something, or how to take drugs, or how to play mature video games they shouldn’t be watching. Telling you that they don’t know what you are talking about is to make you feel stupid, or to feel hurt that they have one up on you.
Dishonesty Stance: Kids do lie and will continue if parents don’t catch them in the act and deal with the situation immediately. Any delay would be considered a victory scored by the defiant child. Defiant kids use lying, telling half-truths, and keeping secrets to deny that their bad behavior.
Victim Stance: As the last victim, a rebellious child blames someone else for what happens to them or for what they do. Even if they are the aggressor, the “other” person ís at fault always for what they had to say or what they did to victimize the defiant child. Recognize the methods that rebellious kids use to justify their behavior. Teach them and help them to change their way of thinking.
Life Coaches and Certified Parenting Coaches deal often with two primary issues: time and energy. The classic secret to time management for an entrepreneur is to show the client how to manage their personal organization and not time. Whereas, managing your energy relates to Full-Wave-breathing, exercise, and movement.
Just as electrical equipment functions best when receiving a solid surge of electricity, so do you. In your case, the power you need is energy, which gives you stamina for the day and the ability to kick into high gear when necessary to deal with a problem. It’s not that you have to be perky all day or load up on four shot espresso coffees to get focused. Yet, you do need to know your energy is at its highest and lowest as the entrepreneur working from home.
When you understand how your personal energy patterns ebb and flow, you use that knowledge to support your time management strategy. Are you a night person, who works late but starts slow in the mornings? Are you an early bird who can get up before dawn, exercise, arrive early at your desk to get organized for the day? Then you are a lark!
Or are you a mid-day entrepreneur who starts slow, picks up speed then tapers off in the late afternoon? These patterns relate to your natural energy flow also called bio-rhythms. Some people chart these patterns weekly and monthly and use them to make their schedule, work, or travel commitments.
Or, you can observe yourself and note which hours are your prime working hours–the hours when you can be highly productive with the least effort or tiredness. Just make a simple chart of the day on graph paper or on a spreadsheet-based graph.
List your waking hours on the bottom and a high, medium, low rating along the side. Then make an “X” for your energy level at each hour of the day. As you connect the dots, you’ll notice a pattern of energy highs and lows. Do this for several days and see how consistent the pattern is.
Knowing your prime working hours (early bird, midday, evening) is extremely helpful in how you schedule the complicated tasks in your workday. If you have a choice in scheduling the time to make a presentation at a conference, and you are a midday person, ask for a time between 11 am to 3 pm.
Don’t say yes to the 8am presentation time. You will wake up sluggish and not be sharp even though you know the material. The same is true for dividing tasks. With a large project, divide the elements so that you plan to work on the creative writing or material calculations during the prime energy time of your workday. Your mind will be more alert and you will have the energy to focus on complicated work.
During your off-peak energy times, gather related materials or do some aspect of the project that is less detailed and does not require a high level of creative energy or decision-making. After using this approach for a few weeks, you’ll see what happened on those days when your time management plan seemed to derail even though you were motivated to do the work.
You simply scheduled the wrong task for your lower energy times and so your output was less than anticipated. As with electrical power, peak periods are more expensive. Peak periods in your workday, as an entrepreneur are more valuable, so allocate them wisely and use that high-energy surge to get the work done faster and better.
Stubborn children test your patience and parenting skills to the limit on a regular basis. Is this just part of raising children? All children go through at least two stages of being stubborn. Stage one is the “terrible twos,” when they learn to say “no” and then learn “yes.” The teen years is also when they say “no” as they practice making mature choices.
If a doctor has diagnosed your child as having ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), you will encounter similar issues. Differences between the two diagnoses relate to the frequency and the severity due to the cause of the defiant behavior.
To understand the child’s problems and being able to develop suitable plans and consequences are the first steps for parents. Whether your child experiences the stubborn stages, dealing with ODD, or has another major issue, address the problem early. In fact, at the first sign of rebellious behavior, teach and modeling acceptable ways to react and respond.
Next is an example of a conversation between a stepmother, whose 12-year-old stepson came to live with his dad, the new stepmom, and and younger sister.
- Stepmother: Can I help you get settled into your room?
- Stepson: You’re not my mother, and you never will be.
- Stepmother: You are right. I am not your mother, I am your dad’s wife, your stepmother. I asked if I could help you get settled.
- Stepson: You’re a liar. You don’t want to help. By the way, I do my own laundry and I cook my own food.
- Stepmother: All right, let’s back this conversation to the beginning. If you are going to live here, we have some rules about respect. We show respect in our action and words. You don’t get to call me a liar, and I don’t get to call you a liar. Can you live with that rule?
This stepmom felt that this boy was begging for some attention, for some rules. He wanted to know if he was welcome in their home. Several weeks passed before the stepson settled into accepting that he was in a new home with people who would love him, but also not let him fall into his defensive anger.
Strategies To Help You Handle Stubbornness
The first approach is asking why a child behaves the way he or she does? Understand that you, as the parent, can best understand explosive behavior as a form of developmental delay. Dr. Ross Green, the author of The Explosive Child, suggests that the following questions will help parents see more clearly the crux of the problem.
- This child acts this way because…
- How come what works for other kids isn’t working for this child?
- What can I do instead?
- Build a sound basis. Parents start teaching expected life skills at the earliest ages.
- Clarify perceptions through answers to the more common questions.
- Focus on the present: What is happening right now?
- What is the BIG major issue?
- Distinguish between needs and wants.Which needs or wants can be prioritized?
- List your options.
- Hold yourself accountable.
- The problem is…use your best descriptions.
- Brainstorm. Write down your best ideas that might help solve the problem.
- Consider the pros and cons of each possible solution.
- Which of the possible solutions seems likely to work?
- Plan out the solution step-by-step: What? When? How?
Refuse to bargain: Kids use bargaining to make several points: get out of chores, make a break or cut a deal. Children learn to accept the consequences of their choices and behaviors.
Reinforce the positive: Reward their positive behaviors. Point out when your child completes a job and has done it well. Support and praise a thoughtful decision. The power of positively deserved praise cannot be under-rated.
Bland opt-in offers don’t address the visitor’s problems with any urgency – and they don’t entice people enough to fork over the name and email details. So what can you offer that sets you apart from other marketers in the same niche?
Find Out What Your People in Your Niche Needs
One of the worst offenses to your visitors is to offer them something they don’t need. When you think of need, dig down deep. Dig into why a client feels desperate, or curious, or thoughtful. Or determine what a prospective client needs by asking questions or asking them to fill out a survey intended to discover needs. Then you can supply the solutions.
Instead of of selling How to Have Pretty Skin, instead, touch on the concept of shame and beauty with a report called, “7 Ways to Clear Up Acne Overnight.”
- Be specific about the problem.
- Add a sense of urgency to get the solution.
- Don’t offer a report on how to make your first $100 online, but offer it on how to make that first $100 today.
If you don’t have a list yet and you don’t know what your audience might need, start researching. Where do you look? Where do people routinely go when they need advice from others in the same predicament?
- Online forums
- A specific Facebook group
- Asking on Facebook for your friends to respond to your questions.
You can go to Google, type in the niche, and the word forum. (parenting forum). Choose from Google’s menu of forums to see what people need. Here’s a great example: http://www.psychforums.com/insomnia. You don’t have to go into the conversational threads to get some great opt-in report ideas for insomnia. Examples could include:
• Natural Insomnia Remedies
• How to Fix a Messed Up Sleep Schedule
• How to Sleep When You Don’t Feel Tired
• A Beginner’s Guide to Curing Insomnia
Another place you can visit for ideas on what consumers need is the comment section of other blogs. Whenever you see a blog with a thriving community, people often comment and discuss their needs – especially if the post doesn’t answer all of their questions.
Look at these blog comments, for example: http://sleepstarved.org/2010/08/25/unexpected-help/#comments – reading through that, you can get some ideas for niche reports for your opt in offer.
For instance, one comment talks about the difference between insomniacs and perpetual thinkers. That could spark the idea for you to create a report called “Do You Really Have Insomnia?” The report differentiates between someone having sleep problems and someone whose mind won’t shut off.
Another place to see what people need in any niche is through keyword tools. There are both free and paid also tools. Ubersuggest.org is a free option. Just type in your niche and you can see what people want to know.
Using this tool, if I type in “insomnia” first, one of the top 10 listings is “insomnia cures.” Click on it and go one step further, and you see report ideas such as:
• Insomnia cures for depression
• Insomnia cures during pregnancy
• Natural insomnia cures
Deliver Value They Would Pay For
For many marketers, their big mistake isn’t in coming up with an idea. The mistake is failing to provide value. This is your very first impression with a potential new subscriber.
You want to go above and beyond and wow your audience with what you over-deliver to them. When you start planning your opt- in offer, think of it as a paid offer.
For example, you want to give away a whole course–where they download it or access it and can’t believe you just gave that away. In this example, new members to your audience will be sharing it with others.
The next step is to price your opt-in offer. In that way, you can show more value by saying, “My FREE Gift to You: Download My Insomnia Kit Now (Regularly $27)!”
Your subscribers want true value. You could increase conversions whenever you put a product in the marketplace. Your readers will be thinking, “Wow, if she gives this much value away for FREE, I can’t begin to imagine what great information s/he’s charging for!”
Make your opt in offer longer, meatier, and more informative than the competition. Another way to do it better to be very cutting edge with your information.
So take your niche and go to Google and type it in. Then click on the News tab. So here’s an article I just pulled from the recent news about insomnia:
You can add that to your report. This up-to-date research might give someone a huge relief from their worry – or it might alert them to urgent information they need to know now.
Offer Multiple Formats for Your Prospective Subscribers
Many marketers just offer updates on a product or information product. That’s the worst type of opt-in offer to have. Anyone can go to your blog through their bookmarks, or choose to use an RSS feed to check for new content. Here are some of the formats you can choose to offer for your new subscribers:
Email Series: These can be done in a variety of ways. Usually it’s a timing slant. So for instance, you could offer:
• 7 Day Diet Plan
• 2 Week Sleep Improvement Course
• 365 Day Stress Relief Tips
Short Report: You can create a short PDF file for your subscribers to download and devour. Extra points if you encourage them to share it virally with their friends!
Membership Access – Give someone access to something exclusive – a membership site. You can have a free level where users get in and get to see inside, and then they can level up to a gold or silver membership.
Audio File – Not everyone likes text. Some people like to learn on the go. You can create a podcast that subscribers love. It can be you talking or you interviewing someone – or even you being interviewed by someone else!
Video File – A video course is a great opt in freebie. Not everyone has fast Internet, so if you go this route, give them the download files to watch on their desktop so they don’t have to worry about streaming speed.
Split Test Your Offers – Make sure that whatever option you choose when creating an unbeatable opt in offer, you test and tweak throughout the year. Set up a split test so that you have different offers.
See what people like best. Test different formats for the same information. Test different offers completely. Test different ways of saying what it is you’re offering them as a freebie.