How to Craft Your Signature Story: A step-by-step breakdown for powerful stories (+ where to use them in your business)
by Cheryl Binnie

Ever notice how there’s so much hype in the marketing world about STORIES?

Well, there’s good reason behind it…

Stories are an incredible tool to communicate who you are, what you do, and what makes you different.

Scientifically speaking, stories are attention-grabbers and have the power to activate our whole brain, evoking sensory experiences and memories that connect us to the story…

…and that connect us to the storyteller.

(Hint-hint: that’s YOU!)

Research shows that when we hear a new story, our brains search for a connection or shared experience.

A great story can even make us produce extra dopamine – the pleasure hormone.

There are even studies that show, when a human is listening to a story, they’re not passively listening. They’re experiencing it. So it’s an incredible way to help your audience learn a lesson or feel like they’ve gone on a journey of discovery with you.

That’s why so many marketing & business experts, gurus, and coaches are saying, “Use stories in your marketing!”

But the problem is – no one ever really tells you HOW to craft those stories.

If you’re wondering, “What are some types of stories and where can I use them?” you’re in the right place!

You will eventually have an entire collection of stories you can use in a variety of circumstances (we’ll talk about that in a bit)…

But the first story you want in your arsenal is your Signature Story.

Your Signature Story

This is the story you use when introducing yourself.

It shares how and WHY you got into your business. And it becomes what people remember about you (because people are way more likely to remember a story than they are tips, advice, or strategies).

For example…

Maybe you had a big health scare, and traditional medicine wasn’t helping – so you took matters into your own hands and healed yourself. THAT inspired you to become a health coach, and now you help others heal themselves.

Or…

Perhaps you were a total oddball growing up. You always wore the zaniest outfits. In high school, everyone thought you were just a weirdo. But later, people started asking you for help with their own wardrobe and signature style. Now, you’re a personal stylist who specializes in people who feel like they don’t fit into any typical fashion boxes.

The point is…

Choose a Signature Story that is the best introduction to your business and that will connect people to you right away.

That future client should walk away from your Signature Story thinking, “Wow! She gets it/me!”

How to Structure an Engaging Story

Your story will have several beats:

  1. The Set-Up/Intro
  2. The Inciting Incident
  3. Turning Point/Climax
  4. The Realization/ Discovery
  5. Summary of your Actions or Decision
  6. What Life is Like Now
  7. Your Message

Let’s break it down…

…so you can build it up!

1. The Set-Up / Intro:

This is where you establish what the status quo was – how things were, back before you (or the person in the story) had the solution.

This should also show us who you were as a person (or the person this story is about). For example, were you constantly worried? Did you used to second-guess every decision you made? Were you quiet in meetings at work and let co-workers walk all over you?

2. The Inciting Incident

This is where the conflict is introduced – the problem (or your awareness of the problem) becomes obvious for the first time.

Maybe you got sick, and that set things into motion.

Maybe you were always unlucky in love until you met your soulmate in the most unexpected of ways… but you weren’t emotionally prepared for it.

Or perhaps you took a trip around the world that really opened your eyes to a universal struggle.

3. Turning Point / Climax / Main Event

This is a specific moment in time – the breakthrough moment.

This is where you (or the other person) hit rock bottom.

…OR you had an AHA moment.

…OR you realized you could HELP people with this problem you kept seeing!

…OR you told yourself, “Never again.”

Whatever it is, really take us into that moment in time.

“I remember sitting in the doctor’s office when she told me…”

“It was in that moment, holding my daughter as she sobbed about the bullies at school, that I realized…”

“My husband said to me, ‘You know what? I’m just about done. I can’t be in this marriage if this is what it’s always going to be like.’ That’s when it hit me. And it hit me hard…”

Now, you may have multiple turning points in your life.

But for the purposes of your story, choose just one – the most dramatic, vivid, or important one.

(If you have lots of dramatic moments, choose the one you think your people will relate to the most, or the one they need to hear in order to warm them up to the content you’re teaching.)

Remember – you can always share other turning points in other stories!

4. The Realization / Discovery / Decision

Continue on from the Turning Point Moment, and tell us – what was the decision or realization you had in that moment that changed the trajectory of your life?

Whatever Realization/Discovery you share should support the message you want to impart. (See below.)

5. Summary of Your Actions or Decision

What did you DO about it?

  • Created a system or discovered your Point of View?
  • Started studying and learning more, so you were able to turn things around for yourself and teach others?
  • Decided to start helping other people with this same struggle?

6. What Life is Like Now

This is where you show us that the dream can be a reality – because you’ve made it a reality for yourself, and they can, too.

You can share the results you’ve had in your own life or the results you’ve helped your clients achieve.

Whatever supports your message!

Which leads us to the grand finale.

Drumroll please….

7. Your Message

Your message helps differentiate you from your competition, stand out, and attract your ideal clients.

This part of your story is what shines brightest, whether it’s at a speaking engagement or on your homepage.

What’s the lesson you’re sharing? That “moral of the story” mentioned above? Sometimes, your moral will be the larger message of your business, summed up in a powerful statement.

And sometimes it won’t! Sometimes, it’ll just be a tiny lesson.

For example, if you’re teaching a workshop, you may have a teaching point that you want to support with a story. In that case, “the message” you choose would be the teaching point itself.

Ex. If you teach a lesson on overcoming your fears, tell a story that ends with the message that facing your fears head-on can be incredibly empowering.

That’s the beauty of storytelling! You can make the story fit whatever lesson or message you’re trying to impart.

Psst… Want more step-by-step help figuring out WHICH story to use as your Signature Story + how to craft it? Grab a free copy of my Signature Story Workbook, a fill-in-the-blank guide to telling an intro story that resonates with your ideal clients:

Click here to subscribe

Where to use your Signature Story (and other stories!) in your business

Once you have your Signature Story, you’ll use it all over town:

    • Sales conversations
    • Speaking engagements
    • Email newsletters
    • Networking events
    • Promotional emails
    • Webinars
    • Videos
    • In conversation
    • Everywhere!

Now, the Signature Story is the most important story for you to have in your arsenal.

But why stop there? You can use other stories all over the place, too.

Let’s take a look at some of said places…

Use stories to illustrate a teaching point in your speaking events, workshops, webinars, interviews, and videos.

Each time you teach a strategy, tip, or learning point to a live audience, you want to help your audience members lock in the learning.

In the speaking world, this is often called an “anchor.”

Typical anchors are things like, “Share your thoughts with the person next to you,” or, “Do this journaling exercise for the next 5 minutes,” or, “Someone raise your hand and share an ah-ha with the group.”

But can you guess one more type of anchor?

Hint: you’re reading an entire article about it.

That’s right! Stories! *insert big, cheesy grin*

Stories are great way to illustrate how the thing you just taught plays out in real life.

For example, if your first teaching point in a 60-minute presentation is, “Why you may need to eat more food to lose more weight,” tell us a story about a client who was totally resistant to that idea… but once you finally got her to try it out, she started shedding pounds!

Use stories in your emails, newsletters, blog articles, social media posts, and guest articles.

When you’re engaging with your followers regularly, you gotta keep it interesting, educational and inspirational. (It doesn’t hurt if you’re also entertaining.)

You could use the same tip above – tell a story to “anchor” in a lesson you just wrote about.

Or you could tell a story that ends with a lesson or takeaway.

Or you could tell stories simply meant to inspire your readers.

For example, you could tell a story about how a client tackled a specific problem or a story from your own life experiences.

(Note: A story about a flop or perceived “failure” can be even more powerful than telling story after story about your successes and how awesome you are. Just make sure to include the lesson you took away from that flubbed event.)

You can keep it short and casual, like, “The other day, I was making a PB&J. And I spilled grape jelly on my new white pants. Ugh! And it made me think… [insert some amazing realization your people would appreciate here].”

Or you can make your story the bulk of your article and tack on a takeaway section at the end.

To keep your story well from running dry, start looking for funny or interesting little scenes or conversations throughout your day.

I suggest you create a folder or document on your computer where you can keep adding story ideas – so you can always come back to your collection of stories at any time.

(Even better if it’s a running document or note you can access from both your phone and your computer, so you can jot down ideas on the go AND access it immediately when you sit down to write.)

Use stories to transition into your pitch during speaking events, webinars, and videos.

When you think of the word “pitch” you might think of an elevator pitch. (Heck, you might even think of a baseball pitch!)

But in this case, a pitch is an opportunity to make an offer. You’re the presenter and are offering something to an audience (like a free strategy session or paid program).

Your pitch is when you start selling.

Which can be really scary.

And awkward.

When I work with entrepreneurs on their talks, webinars, and video scripts, the BIGGEST trouble spot is the moment where they try to transition from teaching… to pitching and selling.

They get all apologetic.

Or they start talking waaaaay too fast.

Or they suddenly go from being a warm, lovely expert… to a weird, pushy “salesperson.”

And it happens so quickly, it’s jarring to the audience.

That’s why I LOVE using a story to transition into the pitch.

Choose a story that’s super inspiring – like a story about how you (or a client) overcame crazy odds – because you figured out the XYZ thing you’re about to pitch them on.

Or tell a dramatic, emotional story that really shows what’s at stake – like a story where you almost gave up – because you were missing this crucial XYZ piece that you’re about to pitch them on.

For example, if you opened the presentation with your Signature Story, you could transition into your Pitch Story by saying something like, “So earlier, I told you my story about how I got started in XYZ. But what I didn’t tell you was how hard it was.”

Then create a takeaway or lesson for that story that sets up your pitch:

The thing is, it’s really hard to do this on your own. You may have the strategies and the steps, but what happens when you get home tonight? I see it all the time. People get all excited at presentations like this, but they get home and never follow through on the things they learned…

Paint a picture of what life is like WITHOUT the knowledge or results your product or service provides… and then show what life is like WITH it.

Then transition into your pitch:

That’s why, for everyone here today, I’d like to offer…

Your story is offering the gift of inspiration and possibility.

Your PITCH is offering the gift of realizing that inspiration and possibility.

Your turn!

Are your wheels turning? Ideas brewing?

It’s time to grab your pen and paper.

On your mark…

Get set…

Storytime!

xoxo,

Cheryl

Psst… Want more step-by-step help figuring out WHICH story to use as your Signature Story + how to craft it? Grab a free copy of my Signature Story Workbook, a fill-in-the-blank guide to telling stories that resonate with your ideal clients:

Click here to subscribe

 

Want to ENGAGE your audience & readers? Use stories! Here's how to craft a powerful story that'll resonate with your ideal clients...