Captivate and Inspire Prospects with Story Power Marketing
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Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Welcome, everybody to this week's podcast episode for the Financial Freedom for Physicians podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Christopher Loo. And as you know, we talk about four different types of freedom: time, financial, location, and emotional freedom. And in that light, our guests started out as a physician audience. And now the brand has expanded so that entrepreneurs, business owners and investors are coming on to the network. So in that light, hopefully, both sides can benefit. And I’d like to introduce Tom Ruwitch, and he's going to talk all about marketing and sales. And we'll go from there. So Tom, welcome.
Tom Ruwitch: Thanks. Glad to be here.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: I know you're a consultant, an expert in content marketing, and you're also the founder of Story Power Marketing. So it's really interesting, because a lot of companies, especially these days, have to grow a personal brand, and develop an online presence. Digital marketing is a way to do that. So tell us more about yourself, your company, how you got started, and we'll go from there.
Tom Ruwitch: Sure, sure. I'm the founder and the CEO of Story Power Marketing. And coaches, consultants, professional service providers, including physicians, hire me to help them power up their content. Develop stories, more creative content, because most who are doing content in any way are dishing out the same old boring, blah, blah, blah, content. And then their prospects are tuning out and moving on. And then they feel frustrated and stuck.
They keep hearing that content is king, that they need to do email, they need to do social media. And so, they do it. But it's a slog, it's hard, it feels frustrating. And they soldier on, but they hate every minute of it. So we help our clients transform their content from boring to brilliant, and turn the marketing process from frustrating to fulfilling and fun. And ultimately, the bottom line transforms from pitiful to profitable. The bottom line is if you can power up your content, develop more creative story powered content, you'll be the one who stands out. And prospects will be more likely to tune in and turn on so that you're putting out client attracting content instead of prospect-repelling content.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: I like that idea of prospect-repelling. Interesting.
Tom Ruwitch: There's a lot of that out there. We all get it. We all were on the receiving end of that. Those emails, another one of those social posts. So there's a whole lot of that stuff out there.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. What's interesting is that, a lot of what you're talking about is product market fit with the content. But many business people say they don't have an interesting story to tell. What's your response to that?
Tom Ruwitch: Well, they're starting from the premise that storytelling and content creation is all about me, me, me. I have to tell stories about myself. And it's okay to have yourself in the content. In fact, it can be better to do that. But you want to start by understanding your prospects' stories, understanding what makes them tick. And the framework that I teach for storytelling is called the three E framework. And it begins with empathy. That's the first key to understanding your prospect, understanding your client, what makes them tick, where are they? What are they feeling? What's frustrating them? What's keeping them up at night?
The second E: envision. Where do they want to go? What is it that they want to achieve? What's the pain that they want to overcome? And what will that look like and feel like and allow them to move forward? If you can evoke that story, that journey from before, that you recognize by empathy, to after that you recognize through envisioning what they want and need, then they're going to lean in and they're gonna say, tell me more how you know? Yeah, I want to take that journey. How do you do that? Those are the stories that you want to be telling.
And the E is enabled. You are an enabler. You are the one who is going to help them move from before to after, to achieve the journey. And if you are able to frame it that way where the prospect can say, Oh yeah, I can relate, I want to feel better or achieve this or whatever the story is that you're telling, then you've completely changed the dynamic of how selling is going to work. No longer you the pitchy pest. You are now a welcome guest. You are now the person who is enabling. They're saying, Tell me more? How do I do it? And now you're explaining the product, the service, the treatment, whatever it is that you offer. And they want it, because you already sold them by evoking the story, their story.
Now, you can still put yourself into the conversation. But this is not all about sharing your legendary origin story of how you rose through the ranks and blah, blah, blah, that stuff only matters to your audience to the extent that your story reflects back on their story. So don't worry about it. If you don't think you have an interesting story to tell. You do, probably. But that's not where you need to begin.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I love that. Always starting with the customer first, getting in their mindset, what is their avatar. I know you have a lot of do's and don'ts for storytelling for business. Can you expand upon that?
Tom Ruwitch: Well, yeah, there I mean, there are tons of them. And the first one that I started with, don’t make it all me, me, me; pitch, pitch, pitch. That's a really, really, really important one.
I'll share with you three storytelling principles that are the fundamental do's, okay. The first one is, keep the focus on your prospects’ emotional journey. I was talking about that before, the focus is really about your prospects’. Number two, keep it human and personal. One of the great don'ts of content marketing, marketing in general, is don't just dish out information. Information is not enough. Experts, positions, consultants, coaches, whomever, they are subject matter experts. And the tendency when they're putting out emails or social posts or whatever it may be, is to dish out all sorts of information.
And here's the thing - and I say it with all due respect to all of you who have subject matter expertise - the information you have is no better than the information the next person over has. The question is, how are you going to stand out and be recognized and noticed beyond the person next door? So information is not enough, you have to make it human, and you have to make it personal.
And then the third principle is to keep it simple. So many of the so-called storytelling experts and gurus out there want you to master the seven steps, the 10 stages, archetypes of storytelling and all this stuff. I just shared with you a couple of minutes ago, a three element storytelling framework, three E's empathize, envision, enable. If you can master that, which is so much more simple than memorizing 10 things, whatever it may be, you're going to be so much better off than the people who are getting stuck in all that complexity.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: You say that storytelling does not have to be so complex. What do you mean by that?
Tom Ruwitch: Well, it's what I was saying before that this idea of - I'll share a story. I read a blog post recently and the guy who wrote it was suggesting that we learn this thing called Freytag's Pyramid. I have no idea what Freytag's Pyramid was. So I looked it up. Freytag was a European playwright. From the 19th century, I think early 20th century, I forget. And Freytag created this very complex storytelling framework for writing plays. And I think that's great if you want to be a great playwright, master Freytag's Pyramid.
The problem is, storytelling coaches will tell you to master the elements of screenwriting. There's one guy out there who will talk about the fact that you, as the business person, you're Yoda guiding the customer who's Luke Skywalker. And you have the backstory and the conflict and the resolution and this and that. I have a client who came to me after going through all of this complexity. And he said, Tom, the thing I really like about working with you is that you keep it simple.
I don't want to have to memorize all of the elements of a screenplay, or he didn't cite Freytag's Pyramid, but it's the same idea. I don't want to have to master the Freytag's Pyramid to write an email or to put out a social post. Keep it simple. Don't get hung up on all of this complexity. You don't have to learn art types or whatever the complex storytelling gurus are claiming, you need to know. Just keep it simple.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I like how your whole premise is improving the content and making it more engaging through stories. We’re talking about basic storytelling principles. What happens if the audience is serious business people, and they don't want to hear stories? How do you respond to that?
Tom Ruwitch: Yeah, I hear that all the time. You know, that, Oh I'm a professional and stories are for the campfire or for putting your kid to sleep or hanging out at the bar. And, frankly, that's one of the problems that a lot of professionals have with marketing. They try to be so darn serious and so darn professional, and they never let their guard down. They never lower that, that professional persona.
And the thing is, I'm a serious business person, I'm here to help grow my own business and help you grow your business. So I'm not some fool and some frivolous idiot who is just spouting stories, for stories sake. I am sharing stories and delivering information, so that it will be more captivating, more interesting and have more personality.
People choose to do business with you, when they know, like, and trust you. And if you put some personality, and some storytelling and some personality into your copy, people will be more likely to pay attention to you to tune in. And the ones who are I'm a very professional person, and I'm going to sit from on high and deliver a lecture with some very valuable information. That's what I mean by the same old blah, blah, boring content. That stuff's a dime a dozen. You'll never stand out if that's all you do.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. And that being said, when people, especially in today's creative age, lots of content creators, content marketers. How do you come up with content ideas? And how do you overcome a blockage of ideas?
Tom Ruwitch: Yeah, that's a challenge. A lot of people will tell me, you know, Tom, easy for you to say, write stories, I sit down at the computer, and I'm looking at the blank screen, and it's sort of Once Upon a Time - now what. Writer's block. And I feel for people who suffer from writer's block, I've had the experience.
I often share the story of a guy named Eugene Schwartz. Eugene Schwartz was an adman in the 60s 70s 80s, one of the great direct response copywriters of his age. And Eugene Schwartz wrote hundreds of ads, and made millions and millions and millions of dollars for his clients and for himself. And he claims he never once suffered from writer's block, not once. And when people would ask him, what's the deal with that? Never suffered from writer's block? His response was: copy is not written, copy is assembled.
Copy is not written, copy is assembled. It's a profound idea, but it's a really important idea, if you can get your mind around it. What he means by that is, if you do the work of what I call discovering the story, if you do the work of understanding what I was talking about before, what makes your prospects tick, leaning into that empathy of knowing your prospects, understanding, envisioning where they want to go. And then understanding how you enable that. If you do the research, really know what makes your prospects tick, you will have the building blocks that you need to later assemble stories. So that creating stories, it's not some act of magic, it's not some act of creative genius, you don't have to be a creative unicorn to write stories.
What you need to do is gather the pieces, which anyone can learn to do. I teach my clients how to conduct story discovery in a systematic, methodical way. And then, when you have those pieces, you can then assemble them into different structures. Email, social posts, the front page of your website, whatever the case may be. And then on a consistent basis, you're going to be evoking those same stories, the same journeys, where your prospects are, where they want to go. Where do I get my ideas for those stories? I'm not telling them the same way over and over again, I'm getting them from a slice of life, things that happen to me. I'm getting them from things I read or things I see.
So I shared with you a story a moment ago. I read an article about some dude who wrote about Freytag's Pyramid. I turned that into a story that evokes the journey of, hey, you can move from feeling stuck in complexity, to feeling relief in simplicity. That's the story I tell, because I understand that my prospects want that journey.
So if I understand that my prospects want that journey, when I read some article that some dude is like, oh, you know, I have to learn the Freytag's Pyramid. Like, ooh, that's a story I can tell that my prospects will relate to. So it starts with knowing what my prospects will relate to, what my audience wants to know, the journey they want to take. And then all this stuff that happens around you. You read an article, you see something on TV, something happens to you in your own life. You begin to recognize those as things that you can share, tell that relate to the stories, or are the stories, that have an important lesson for your clients?
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I love that. One thing that I love is just being curious through either YouTube or the media, and then getting ideas from there. This has been a really interesting conversation. What do you think is the most important skill and quality that you need to be an effective business storyteller?
Tom Ruwitch: Yeah, it’s funny you asked that question right after talking about curiosity. Curiosity is right there at the top of the list. Listening, paying attention, noticing. Because the whole idea is that storytelling is, as I mentioned before, is not about me, me, me, me. Tell, tell, tell, tell, tell. It's about listening, noticing, understanding, empathizing, envisioning, all of which requires a certain amount of habit in practice. Pay attention to what your prospects are telling you.
That's part of the story discovery method that we teach. It's not just about going into a room, pulling from your head, what you think makes your prospects tick. There's a whole method to story discovery that involves curiosity, paying attention, listening, noticing. Those are the fundamental skills. If you do that, you'll gather those building blocks that enable you to assemble content in a simpler way, as opposed to hoping for the creative magic to strike when you sit down to write an email or a social post.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. I really got a lot out of this. The importance of stories, taking the information and making it engaging. Which is another level. A lot of people are interested in reading about you, finding out about you, learning and maybe even working with you. So how can they do that?
Tom Ruwitch: Yeah, thank you for asking. The best place to go is to my website, which is StoryPowerMarketing.com. Join my email list, it's a great place to start. And then also look for the link on the website called resources. We have a seven minute video, the Three Keys to Master Storytelling. We have a downloadable eBook, The Storytelling Hall of Fame, great examples of advertising and marketing that is story powered, all sorts of resources there, you'll also be able to reach out to me and contact me.
After you get my emails, I'm going to provide information on how you can contact me, and I make space available on my calendar to meet with people who want to dive a little deeper to talk about what's working for them, what's not, and how I might be able to help. I open time on my calendar. If you're really interested in diving deeper. I'll schedule time, just reach out to me after you get my email when you sign up. And also on LinkedIn. Look me up on LinkedIn. I'm happy to connect with you there.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Tom, this has been a great discussion. A lot of pearls and gems; a great conversation. For all of the listeners, Tom's resources will be in the links, in the show notes. So thanks so much for coming on to the podcast and we look forward to hearing about your future success.
Tom Ruwitch: Thank you, Christopher. Really enjoyed being here. I appreciate you and the podcast and I'll see you down the road.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at Chris@drchrisloomdphd.com. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!
Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.