How Popular Thought Leaders Attract Followers Through Their Stories

Being a thought leader is no walk in the park. Staying in demand is even harder. I’ve seen a lot of speakers and subject matter experts come and go over the last decade. The ones that became the most successful the longest, know how to tell stories people need to hear.

Most executives get into the speaking circuit because they know solutions others would benefit from but they have a hard time getting people to listen. Especially early on. Everyone talks about the importance of having a digital presence and digital marketing but how do you grow an audience from scratch?

The first thing to know about creating traffic is that you’re not creating it. Your job is to convert it. The internet is traffic. It’s already there waiting for you.

Brands and companies winning with digital marketing are producing the most helpful and unique content by sharing their expertise on their subject matter in a way that relates to the people seeking something new and different.

Content marketing isn’t new it’s been “a thing” for thousands of years. The term “content marketing” was adopted in 2007 though to highlight the shift away from traditional interruption-based advertising to the maturing discipline of value-oriented content creation. It was a reminder and call to arms to stay grounded in the way humans communicate.

By telling stories and sharing experiences people can relate to.

Gary Vaynerchuck is one of the most in-demand corporate speakers today on digital marketing. But people don’t follow him because he talks about digital marketing. They follow him because they first related to his story and experience is something they want to replicate for themselves.

Gary grew his parents’ wine business from $3 million to $60 million by being one of the first companies to use YouTube to make wine video reviews to sell their inventory. He left that world and grew an 800 personal digital marketing agency for the world’s biggest brands. He isn’t just talking about digital marketing he lives and breathes it.

Similarly, Simon Sinek didn’t blow up for telling companies to update their mission statements. He shared his experience of how he quit his corporate job because he felt a lack of excitement and of attention to basic human emotional needs at large companies in a TedTalk that became the 3rd most popular watched presentation of all time.

Sinek explains complex obvious problems by sharing stories that create shared experiences.

Over the last 8 years our Chairman, Jeffrey Hayzlett, has delivered over 1,300 keynote presentations by outlining in vivid detail, how he and his team went through one of the largest gut-wrenching turnarounds in American business history. Telling his experience validates what every other company in the world is feeling and going through. Unmitigated massive ongoing scary changing business landscapes and how to face the fear of the unknown.

By sharing experience, we spread knowledge.

The point is some of the most in-demand speakers and thought leaders are not just marketing themselves as speakers available for hire. Popular thought leaders today are the missing messages for change in increasingly outdating industries. Telling hard truths most aren’t willing to say.

The most effective way to share your message is to tell stories.

Marketing and soap operas:

The phrase soap opera came about in the mid-1930s because the sponsors of the earliest radio shows were soap manufacturers targeting housewives through daytime radio ads for woman.

Attention from the same advertisers then shifted in the 60s to TV programming for working moms. High drama shows involving betrayals, breakups, dark secrets, and intimate storylines were capturing the attention of the masses. It was in that shift where marketers learned the mainstream attraction and power of storytelling. They integrated their advertising where people were listening to stories.

Digital marketers today are now scrambling to become the story not just interrupt them.

The emergence of the soap opera sequence:

Marketers only have seconds to capture strangers’ attention.

They are doing so by getting people hooked on an idea. This isn’t about manipulation it’s about getting to the point of what really matters to them.

Digital marketers today have adapted a term known as the Soap Opera Sequence to structure their communication in story form intended to create drama, build suspense and anticipation, and ultimately entice people to take action.

Telling your story using the soap opera sequence

1. Set The Stage:

Start off with an eye-raising statistic or enticing question.

2. Backstory

What’s the dramatic pain point everyone knows in the industry but nobody is talking about that creates trust and allows the know you’re just like them?

3. Hitting the Wall

What reoccurring business problem stopped you from reaching your goal that your prospect can relate to?

4. The Epiphany

What epiphany did you have that solved the problem in a new way that others should know? The secret you learned that changed everything after you implemented it?

5. The Hidden Benefits

What unexpected benefits emerged as a result of the changes you implemented?

6. The Call to Action

Why act now versus later? What will it cost not to act right now?

When communicating with purpose to attract your tribe, use the soap opera sequence to make your content stand out by telling a story that your audience can relate to.

It isn’t about putting out content. It’s putting out content in a relevant and meaningful way.

There has always been too much content. The only way to stand out is to relevant and different. Tell your story like nobody else!

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