A small time team/athlete gets a once in a lifetime chance to compete against a sporting nemesis, but to win must face and overcome fierce external and internal obstacles. Sound familiar? It should. From Rudy to Rocky; Hoop Dreams to Karate Kid; and you to every client you’ve ever coached: it’s the classic sporting story. And with good reason. At it’s core is transformation. Transformation, change, evolution; call it what you like but us humans are hardwired for it. Why? Night to day, Winter to Spring, youth to old age; everywhere we look transformation is reflected back to us. It follows then that when we hear stories with that same pattern we immediately connect to them, remember them and more importantly – pass them on.
Knowing this, it’s no surprise that stories riffing on the transformation theme have been used by cultures for thousands of years to share ideas, morals, values and history. Its even less of a surprise that because of their sticky quality, stories and storytelling, is now a critical marketing tool. For those of us working in fitness this is excellent news; transformation is at the core of what we do. So, how can we take a leaf out of the finest storytellers books and start spinning more of our transformational yarns to convert connections into clients?
Here’s some steps to get you started:
- Mine for your stories: From how you got going, to the biographies of your staff and the successes of your clients; you’re sitting on a gold mine of stories brimming with the potential to ally you with clients. Identify the ones worth telling by looking beyond sets of dates or events to the theme of transformation lurking below them. It’s here that the emotional juice lies, the stuff that really connects us. If in doubt think back to the above movie references and remember a transformational story has these four ingredients: a person, goal, obstacles and a resolution brought about through internal or external change.
- Settle on a platform: Back in Mark Twains’ day if you wanted to tell your story, there were two platforms – books and newspapers. Nowadays a storyteller is spoilt for choice; with just the click of a button they have the power to publish in the form of a tweet, blog post, YouTube video, Instagram post and more. As a storyteller in training your best bet is to play to your strengths. Do pictures come more easily to you, or words? Choose your weapon and stick to it: its better to master one platform than poorly communicate across many.
- Consider your presentation: It’s one thing to identify your story, it’s another to tell it – particularly in a business context where the pressure is on to look like you’ve got it under control. With storytelling, however, authenticity is everything. Let your guard down, tell your story as it really is and you stand a better chance of connecting with your clients and in turn gaining their trust and brand loyalty.
- Find your voice: The mechanics of writing, taking a picture or shooting a video can be overwhelming. “I’m a Coach or Gym owner, not a storyteller” you might say. Not so; you’re human, making you a natural born storyteller. The trick, however, is not trying to write like J.K Rowling or Hemingway but to find your own voice and use that. Your voice, incidentally, is just that – how you talk. Write like you speak and act on camera as you would in real life and your authenticity will hook your audience.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Like most things in life, the final step to storytelling perfection, is practice. Keep writing, videoing and taking pictures; the act of repetition will build your storytelling muscles while observing (via metrics) how your stories are being met by your audience will help you refine both your message and communication skills.
Many of us were moved to take up sport because of a book we read or a movie we watched. Inspired by our heroes’ story of transformation, by their attempts to become bigger, better, faster and stronger, we jumped into fitness and eventually underwent our own evolution. Now in the business of introducing fitness to others your story of transformation is your single most important tool in capturing the hearts and minds of your clients and therefore, their business.
Learn more about doing business the OPEX way by scheduling a consultation to discuss the OPEX Gyms Accelerator Program.