Last week I wrote a post for a writers' blog on Memoirs and how when someone out there tells you you should write a book about your life, well, maybe you shouldn't. The purpose of a memoir is to show change, struggle, and ultimate success over what can be devastating circumstances. The book: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston is a perfect example of this. He's the rock climber whose arm was caught under a boulder and rather than die, he chose to cut his arm off.
It's an incredible story of survival but it's also a story of human triumph. Some of us would have pitied ourselves for our arm lost. Ralston chose otherwise and shows us how his life has changed for the better.
If you have a life changing experience that taps into lessons to which we can all relate then by all means, go ahead and write your book. If, however, you simply have a Dear Diary chronicle of activities (Dear Diary, Today I made banana bread and then went to the pool) then perhaps it would be best if you turned your literary efforts in another direction.
However... as someone who is marketing a product, idea, or platform – then you absolutely must consider writing a snippet-story of your life in order to get some much needed credibility. Putting a personal story (it doesn't have to be long, think of it as a mini-episode) under your marketing profile lets people know that you own the knowledge in that area. You are the expert. What better way to do that than by giving concrete examples of how you have incorporated your information and breathed it into your life. Think of it as a personal self-testimonial of your product.
One of the best ways to create a Self-marketing story is to first decide on the lesson you want taught and then go through your catalog of personal stories to find one that fits.
Want to demonstrate how efficient your company is? Pull out a story from when you were a kid and you figured out a faster way to give the dog a bath.
Want to sell your honesty? How about that story when you were a starving graduate student and you found a wallet filled with money. Did you keep it? No, you turned it in the police.
One marketer who does this well is Larry Winget author of books with provocative titles like: Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life: A Kick-Butt Approach to a Better Life. Winget is a motivational speaker and author who uses stories and personal examples to get his point across. And what's his point? That you adopt (or at least consider) his life philosophy by reading (and buying) his books. All of his personal stories and anecdotes are designed, not to teach a lesson of change based on his life experience but instead to further his message and platform. He's been able to create a rather effective little empire doing this.
Although his books contain a lot of personal information they are not memoirs, instead they are marketing material. Memoirs have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, there is a climax and a resolution. Although a self-story also has a beginning, middle and end, the purpose of a Marketing Self-story is to goad someone into movement, to create a want followed by an action, to show that you have the insight to be an expert in your field.
A memoir has a linear story line, a self-marketing story is a snapshot in time. If you can stretch out that story to fill a book like Mike Sanborn and John C. Maxwell did in their short book: The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary- which is the story of a postman extraordinaire, then all the better. Not only do you establish expertise in your field but now you also have a product to sell. Win-win.
You know you've got a winning self-marketing story when:
It furthers your platform or your brand and not necessarily you-the-person.
It's not long and involved, rather it's short and to the point. It gets in and gets out when its job is done.
It focuses on a lesson or moral that creates a call to action.
You have a story where a struggle is overcome or a proverbial light of wisdom is turned on.
It feels like the perfect example to prove that point, the reader should leave with a sense of “ah-ha” and further respect for your knowledge in that field.
People have forever told stories, they remain one of our most effective ways to teach (I ask you, would you ever leave a trail of breadcrumbs to follow in the woods?). Using well written life snippet-stories as a way to market yourself and your platform is an incredibly effective and creative tool that will allow you to grab the attention and respect of your audience.
Wendy E.N. Thomas is a freelance writer and Instructional Design Consultant for High-Tech Businesses. She is located in New Hampshire, U.S and has over 25 years experience in the High-tech field as a Technical Writer/Instructional Designer.
A features writer, interviewer, and columnist, Wendy has been published in national magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and blogs.
Her current project is to blog about life lessons learned while living with 6 kids and a flock of chickens.