Sharing Your Story Of Overcoming Adversity

Back in the May 2016 issue of the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter, I wrote about how you need to craft your personal story as part of your marketing.  I personally think that’s one of the best issues of the newsletter (you can buy that one issue as a back order if you’re not a subscriber) because it goes into the psychology of establishing credibility and authority with your audience.

Building that trust and position of authority is a critical step that’s often underdone by people when they are building their business, so it’s worth knowing how to do this.

One element I touched on in that issue of the newsletter was the “woe to win” type story that people often craft.  In the internet marketing world, this story is so overdone that it’s become farcical.

“I was living out my car, just me and my dog.  I was eating scraps that I found out back of McDonald’s and I honestly didn’t know what would happen next.  Then I release an info product about cost-per-action marketing and made five figures in seven hours.  My world totally changed and now I have a mansion, a summer home and three cars all paid for with cash.  Join my coaching program.”

If just two short years ago you were dumpster diving for your dinner and your road to win was telling people to how to carve out their riches online telling other people how to do the same, you’ve got a credibility problem.  Extracting yourself from the basement by pretending to be successfully living in the penthouse is duplicitous and wrong.

Does it work?  All the time.

I could name at least a dozen people who will tell you how they were homeless and now they’re crushing it on the interwebz without ever having done any of the hard work.  They just told everyone they were successful and wrapped that lie around very superficial products.

The problem when you behave like this is that to be successful your target audience has to be stupid and desperate.  You need to find a wide enough group of “marks” that you can spin your story to and tug at their heartstrings.  These people are usually pretty much broke themselves or in the express lane to broke already and so the whole thing becomes a wicked race to the bottom.

As you can no doubt tell, I hate when people use a “woe to win” story as the centrepiece of their marketing.  When you hear it for the second or third time you notice how rehearsed it sounds and the more the person tries to make it sound painful, the more you can tell they are acting.  It has the opposite effect of what it is intended to have.

But does that mean I’m not a fan of discussing how you’ve overcome adversity?

Don’t be stupid, that stuff is gold.  Talking to people about how you came to a realisation that you were on the wrong path, talking about the pain of that realisation and the negative impact it had on you are great ways to teach and build affinity.  When done properly, people relate to the emotional undertones and it strengthens their bond with you.

A good example is how I use it when discussing Casual Marketer.  I often talk about how just over a year ago I spent the time to count how much content I was creating on other people’s platforms.  I was stunned to see that I was often writing 2500 – 3000 words of good content in a day and effectively posting in places where other people reaped the benefit of that work both in the short and long term.  It was painful for me to come to the conclusion that my efforts were building other people’s businesses while only establishing myself as a minor authority.

That’s a story people, especially my target audience, can entirely relate with.  People have said to me that they read that story and find themselves nodding their head.  It casts me in the light of a guy who realized the error of his ways and corrected it.  More subtly, it builds my authority as a publisher – most people sit there and think, “Crap, he’s writing and publishing 2500 – 3000 words a day, I want to know how he does that because I want to do that too.”

Everyone has had some kind of adversity in their lives.  Some of my personal tragedies are not things that I want to share publicly because they are personal.  For other people, those things may have shaped who they are today and why they’re doing what they do.

I think the secret is making sure your story establishes you as an authority and not as a victim.  You don’t want people feeling pity for you, you want them feeling empowered by what you’ve done.  You want them to see themselves in where you were and become inspired to follow your journey out of their situation to something better.

Your adversity story, should you choose to use one is a celebration of you overcoming a bad situation, not a pity party – remember that!

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