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What’s Your Story?


If you’re determined to be a success in business, then of course you’re a lifelong student of marketing.

And even though much of what passes for television entertainment today is nothing more than a complete waste of time, you know that you can learn something about how to successfully market and grow your business from just about anything.

Case in point…

My beautiful wife Michele and I watched an episode of the “America’s Got Talent” show the other night.

Sure, most of the winning acts that the judges sent through to the next round of the competition had decent enough talent, but they also had another key element in common: magnetic personalities and inspiring stories.

A few examples…

A 10-year old singer was the front man for a mariachi band. Without the kid, the band would have been booed off the stage in seconds as a cheesy, run-of-the-mill group of musicians completely unfit for any kind of consideration as one of the most talented acts in the country. But since the 10-year old had an engaging personality and a voice that one of the judges called “surprising” for someone so young, this act captured the attention and affection of everyone.

Was his an extraordinary voice? Not by a long shot. In other words, had the singer been a 30-year old, this act would have had absolutely zero chance of winning the judges’ favor, or having the audience stand to its feet. On its merit alone, this act was no big deal at all. But thanks to the “surprising” child singer with the winning personality, the mariachis marched on towards immortality.

Another act featured a “human cannonball” – a guy who gets shot out of a big tube and flies through the air into a net. Once again, not anything anyone would really call “talent,” but his drama-filled buildup – complete with stories of a broken leg and assorted other injuries – got the judges and the crowd all riled up and earned him a spot in the next round of the competition.

And finally, the best example of all…

A backstage interview introduced us to a very nice guy with a stuttering problem and a guitar. As he made his way to the stage, I observed, “Here comes the Jim Nabors story.”

(In case you’re not familiar with Nabors, he was a beloved star of the entertainment world starting in the 1960’s. He exuded a humble, southern charm and spoke in a funny high-pitched voice, but as soon as he opened his mouth to sing, out came a surprisingly deep, rich baritone sound.)

Sure enough, that’s almost exactly what happened here. Before he started to sing, this contestant explained to the judges how he was an Afghanistan War veteran who was injured by a grenade, which caused his stuttering problem. He immediately had all three judges – and the entire audience, including the Sipress household – in the palm of his hand, of course.

He then proceeded to sing a tear-jerker ballad with a fairly-good voice, until there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. When the audience finally stopped their prolonged ovation, the judges unanimously gushed over the singer (justifying their emotional response by trying to convince themselves that he had some kind of “special tone” to his voice) and enthusiastically sent him through to the next round.

Without their personality and stories, these were nothing more than slightly-above-average-at-best performers. With them, they became overwhelming sensations.

Which raises the million-dollar question…

How much easier is it for someone to become a sensation when they have both talent AND a great personality/story?

That’s the question you should be asking yourself.

Hopefully, as an entrepreneur, business owner or sales professional, you have talent and provide an excellent product or service. Unfortunately, that alone doesn’t entitle you to success – it’s merely the ante to get into the game.

To cut through the clutter and stand out from the crowd, you need to take the time and trouble to develop a winning story and personality to go along with your impressive talents and skills, thereby avoiding the danger of ever being seen as “just another ___________.”

Consider Frank Perdue’s commitment to cultivating “tough and tender” chicken, Orville Redenbacher’s passion for producing the world’s best popcorn, Smokey The Bear’s dedication to defending our nation’s forests.

(That’s right – if you’re not willing to be the heroic personality behind your own business or brand, you can create your own character who is.)

However you choose to do it, a key to building a long-term successful enterprise instead of merely a day-to-day, transactional business is the same as advancing on a TV talent show: you must develop your own attractive character, complete with an engaging personality and a heroic story.

4 Responses to What’s Your Story?

  1. Craig Reply

    June 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Steve, great article. I don’t usually watch ‘America’s Got Talent’ (my family does). But, you’re absolutely right! My ‘Attractive Character’ has always been my son ‘Mini-me’. It connects with people in many different ways: 1. People who have no children who admire my deep love for my son; 2. People who have children, but admire my deep love for my son; and 3. People who have children and share the same deep love for their child(ren). People can get any type of product/service anywhere. But, when they hear and connect with your story, they can only find one ‘you.’

    Great example.

    Craig Valine
    Pasadena, CA

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      June 6, 2012 at 7:39 am

      Thanks, Craig.

      Your Comment is worth “one MILL-ION dollars”!

      (All kidding aside, I’m one of those “type 1″ folks who loves how you keep your fans in the know about Mini Me’s adventures!)

  2. Scott Melrose Reply

    June 6, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Steve, great post. Thanks!

    Of course as one of your mastermind members you have even provided me direct suggestions on how to accomplish this.

    My character went to the printer with the first issue of my newsletter yesterday. I’ll provide copies for all of the attendees at your 6/18 event as I win the Marketer of the Month Award. 😉

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      June 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Congratulations on getting your first newsletter done, Scott! Looking forward to seeing it, and hearing your success stories from it…

      And best of luck to you in our Marketer Of The Month Competition. I hope you win!

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