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Shut up you don't know nothing!

Shut up you don't know nothing!

May 15, 2010

Harsh isn't it?

I'm not making this up. I'm sitting on a train coming back from speaking at an event for the fitness industry in New York two weeks ago and a woman beside me is saying those words to her young son. While she's having a conversation with someone else, he struggles to interrupt and share his thoughts and his mother turns to him and says: 'Shut up! You don't know nothing!'

He tries again a few minutes later ' 'Shut up! You don't know nothing!'

It's sad but people are what they're told ' especially when told by someone in a leadership position.

What a sharp contrast to the story I shared in New York and the powerful lesson all business leaders could learn from ' the same one that made one business $11 million.

Look, it's a fact that we learn what we can and can't do largely by what we're told by those closest to us. And what was really sad about how this one mother was talking to her son is that he's going to grow up believing he really doesn't know anything.

Who knows what will become of that young man. My hope and prayer is that he will be able to overcome the negative messages coming from his own mother, but we all know the odds are not in his favor. If he does, what an incredible before and after story that would be!

Fitness trainers deal with incredible stories of change all the time. People come into their facilities overweight, out-of-shape, not feeling good about themselves, struggling to overcome negative messages from family and friends ('you can't lose that much weight ' you'll waste your money ' you'll go a few times and give up like you always do ' shut up you don't know what you're talking about') but despite it all they come out with amazing stories of change.

I call it 'Spotting the Story' and it's one of the most powerful things you can do to promote your business. Why? Because everyone loves a great story of overcoming incredible odds to produce amazing results. Think: 'Rocky,' 'Rudy,' 'Star Wars' or Ali Vincent.

Here is Erik Chopin. The question for you is how can you show a before and after impact that your business has made on your customers?

Don't recall Ali Vincent? You will ' she's the first female to win NBC's Biggest Loser TV show who went from 234 to 122 pounds (losing nearly half of her body weight!).

What a great story of overcoming incredible odds! And 24 Hour Fitness, which provides the training facilities for the Biggest Loser contestants captured it all to produce an amazing story of transformation and change. I estimate that with the publicity generated from stories like this one, 24 Hour Fitness earned an additional $11 million in revenue ' simply by spotting the story.

They tell their stories with pictures and videos showing the trainers working with clients, encouraging them and motivating them while they undergo a dramatic turnaround.

Just about every business has a story to tell ' incredible before and after stories that show how customers' lives have been changed for the better.

And if a guy who builds sheds can talk about changing lives I know you can. Seriously, one of my clients, Paul Johnston, who owns the Shed Shop in northern California created a book called 83 Ways a Shed Has Changed People's Lives.

Most shed manufacturers sell a shed based on its utilitarian purpose. Not the Shed Shop. Johnston has a passion for marketing sheds to solve the challenges his customers are facing such as what they do when they run out of space for their tools in the garage. Or their pottery is taking over the living room. Or they may need a room of their own to teach trumpet lessons.

He's even credited with saving a few marriages with his sheds. And he tells about these real-life before and after stories in his book that he also uses as a promotional tool packed with one testimonial after another. How does he get those stories? He holds a contest every year for the most original and unusual shed uses! What a great idea!!

You can do it too. It's simply a matter of spotting the story. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to help you spot the stories in your own business.
1. How have we made our customers lives better? (Focus on just a few customers when answering the remaining questions.)
2. What challenges were they facing before they came to you?
3. How has your product or service made a difference in their lives? (Be as specific as possible!)
4. What was your role or your company's role in that process? What obstacles did you have to help the customer overcome? How did you assist in making the changes needed?
5. What pictures or videos can show to help you illustrate your story? (Remember pictures tell a thousand words and leave prospects with a mental image and help reinforce your branding in the minds of your prospects).

Every business has incredible before and after stories to tell. It's simply a matter of spotting the story. Try the 5-step exercise above and I'll bet you'll find a few you can use to grab your prospects' attention.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,