Discovering the origin story that will connect with your customers
You were taught at school to always include a beginning, middle and end to your stories. And you keep hearing how much people love “origin stories”, so how do you actually go about using these in your business writing to connect with customers? Because you’ve tried writing this stuff and following these rules and you’re still getting that bloody tumbleweed in response. Knowing where to start the story is a major sticking point for many business owners – you’re not alone – and it’s time we sorted it out.
Why start(ing) at the very beginning doesn't work
Of course, the old advice, and Maria’s infinite wisdom in the Sound of Music would tell us to start our stories at the very beginning. Why is this horrible advice? Well, it leads to stories that:
a. Waffle on endlessly
b. Leave your audience asking, “So what?”
If you follow that priniciple of starting at the very beginning, this manifests in About pages, Home pages, social media messaging etc. that is muddled and just screams, “me, me, me”. You’re so far from being an egotistical maniac, that this then leads to you feeling embarassed and weirded out by your own messaging.
It’s also really tricky to unpick The Beginning; there’s often no one set “in point” in our stories. Your journey to where you are now and the way you help people has had so many detours, side characters and is comprised of so many building blocks that need filtering to shape a great, connecting origin story.
For me, I could say that my journey as a Copywriter began with:
… a crayon and wobbly hand telling of the story of a fairy and witch – age 5 (ish)…
… a teacher who encouraged me to believe that my aspiration to, “be like J.K. Rowling when I grow up” was completely feasible…
… a last minute decision to switch from a Law degree to an English Literature degree…
… a red laptop and a burning desire to create as an escape from a job I hated…
… a group public speaking course for female business owners where I saw just how powerful and transformative telling our business stories can be – and all of the deep emotional stuff that holds us back from doing so.
Bet that last one got your attention, didn’t it? That’s a hint at where we’re going with this.
The origin story mistake
Ok, so what is an origin story anyway?
[ awr-i-jin stawr-ee, or-i-jin ]
a backstory, or established background narrative, that informs the identity and motivations of heroes and villains in a comic book or similar fictional work: The superhero’s origin story begins with a tragic accident that left him scarred, but also resulted in his supernatural powers.
The trap this might have led you into, is the one where you position yourself as the hero of the story. And that’s where you end up sounding confused and egotistical. Let’s flip things. It’s time to make your ideal client / customer the real hero of the story.
In my own example above, the “in point” of my origin story is the one where my ideal client became my muse and the hero of my story; I saw female business owners overcome intense fear / emotional trauma / social binds to tell their stories and that changed everything.
Making your ideal client the hero of your origin story
At this point, you’re probably wondering how to put all of this into action so that you can make better connections through your copy. And the first place I’d recommend starting is, “the kitchen sink”. I don’t mean your actual kitchen, I mean put absolutely everything down on paper. Get to know your full, true, authentic journey inside-out. Then go through this and highlight the bits that are relevant to your ideal clients / customers (this does mean you need to be really clear on these) – where do they become your muse or hero? Why? What changed because of this pivotal moment?
This is the origin story they need to hear. This is what they care about. This is how you make connections.
Need help picking out the gems, heroes and relevant plot twists of your business story? That’s exactly what I am here to help you with! Get a flavour of how I can help.