“People don’t buy services, they buy stories”
I was recently working with a couple of my one-on-one coaching clients who are both facing upcoming marketing presentations where they’re hoping to gain new clients. Without sharing particulars of their situations, I would like to share a few things to think about before you take that stage in front of your next audience.
One of the things I’d like to shout from the rooftops is that people don’t buy services off a sheet of paper that lists what you offer. They may buy your services when they meet you in person because you have the look they’re after. But to appeal to an even wider audience, it’s important to tell stories about real people who have worked with you (change the names if you need to protect someone’s privacy) and the success they experienced.
Here’s why you want to share a variety of client experiences. First of all, it lets the audience members know that you’re professional. You’ve had experience. Image consultants could easily intimidate an audience by their well-put-together look. Someone who meets you could think, “Well, of course she looks great. She’s just naturally beautiful!” But when you tell stories about regular people in all shapes, sizes and age groups who had great success working with you, you’re giving that person in your audience the proof she needs that she could get those results as well.
When you’re giving promotional talks, there are a few things to be cautious about.
Caution #1 “Don’t let anybody else steal your thunder.”
When you’re putting on a workshop, you might be tempted to bring in other people to add value to your program, such as a makeup artist. If this is a marketing talk and your purpose is to get more clients keep the focus on you and what you can do for them. What you have to share is plenty of value for an audience.
A makeup artist can create dramatic results in a short period of time. As she demonstrates her artistry, the whole audience could lose track of you very fast! The makeup artist will walk home with ten new appointments and you could go home with none. Have more faith in yourself and the value you have to offer. You transform people’s lives with the work you do. Keep the focus on the services you want to promote.
Caution #2 “Don’t explain what you do as an image consultant without peppering in lots of success stories.”
Rather than try to explain what an image consultant does, tell stories that demonstrate what you do. Realize that what they hear in terms of other people’s experience of you is much more powerful than a piece of paper that lists a menu of your services. If you are giving a one-hour talk, you should be able to easily fit in 6 memorable client stories.
Here’s an example of a story I’ve used from my experience: When I first met my client Anne, she was dressed in too tight cargo pants and a short-sleeved t-shirt. In my style interview with her, I learned that she was a police captain, wore a uniform most of the time and lived with her son and husband. The more I got to know her through our interview, the more I discovered her sharp wit and her playful side. I asked her, “Would it be okay with you if we put more attention on your playful side through your clothes, hair and makeup?” She LOVED the idea! On a shopping trip, I got her into a classic black pant that looked great in the size she needed to be in, a size 14, and added a feminine blouse (to bring out her girly side) in a bold, black and white, fun graphic print. Then I gave her a larger-scale red handbag. She looked at herself in the mirror she just lit up! She was so happy to see this side of herself she nearly pranced with joy. She came alive!
In this simple story I was able to let my audience members know that I take people through a style interview, get to know who they are and then translate their personalities into the right clothing pieces for them. I pay attention to fit, color, style, and hair and makeup as well.
Caution #3 “Don’t rely on your memory.”
Every time you work with a client no matter what kind of appointment, you could be gathering fabulous client stories that will do your marketing for you. I keep a client journal and when I’m done working with a client that day I do my best to find a few minutes to sit down and write in it. Here are some of the things I might put into my journal:
• What was accomplished that day • What new things did I learn from working with this person • What were challenges she had • Things that she said during our appointment that I could quote directly, such as, “I never knew I could look so great” or “I feel so me” or “When you showed up today I had nothing to wear and now I have tons of things to wear!”
Ready to collect your stories? Pick your top ten client stories, write them out and practice them so you have great marketing tools with you at all times. Let your stories illustrate all the services you provide. Okay, time to get out there and win over some new clients with your great talks. Good luck!
Pick a journal and write out your client notes.