There’s a lot of ways to promote yourself and I’ve certainly discussed a lot of them on this site – everything from How To Get Thousands Of Fans By Acting Like You Need 10, to How To Get More Twitter Followers. I’ve even talked about how to promote yourself by not promoting yourself at all.
But while tactics like those can be very effective if you choose to implement them, there’s an overriding guideline you can follow to ensure that anything you do to promote yourself will be more effective. And it’s so simple that it’s just three words you can apply to anything you do to promote yourself.
The secret to successful promotion is to tell your story. [tweet this]
Stories Are Powerful
There’s a reason why stories have been around for thousands of years and why they get passed on from generation to generation – it’s because they’re incredibly powerful.
Stories take information and add an emotional bent to it that people connect with – in short, a good story makes people care about something.
It might inspire people, might entertain them, might anger them, or might make them feel some other emotion, but ultimately a good story will make somebody feel something. Stories get people’s attention, stick in people’s minds, and impact the people who hear them.
On the flipside, raw information is much more likely to be ignored.
Think about your own tendencies as a consumer – do you tend to be more engaged with stories or just raw information?
And yet, most comics focus their promotional efforts around sharing information as opposed to telling stories.
“I have a show this week,” “Watch my new video,” “Join my email list,” etc. – these are all common examples of comics pushing out information to people as opposed to telling a story that fans (or potential fans) would be more likely to care about.
Everybody has a different story and there’s no single way for you to tell yours, but it’s worth considering how you can incorporate stories into how you promote yourself and your comedy.
The Three Chapters Of Your Story
While your story will certainly be unique to you, there are essentially three “chapters” to it that are universal. No matter how you decide to tell your story to the world, you’ll want to tell it in a way that allows people to connect to all three aspects of it.
Where You’ve Been: People will be interested in your background and they’ll be interested in the experiences that have formed you. Don’t be afraid to let them know how you grew up, where you came from, what inspired you when you were younger, and how you got to where you are.
The more you let people know about your backstory, the more likely they will start to see similarities to their own and the more likely they will be to start to care about your future. The story of Where You’ve Been can function like the first chapter in a story – it’s your way of building interest in the main character (you), and in turn it will make any stories you tell going forward more interesting to people.
For example, how much less interesting would filmmaker Kevin Smith be to fans if they never knew about his background as a guy who was so passionate about making movies that he maxed out his credit cards to make Clerks?
Where You’re At: Comics tend to exaggerate the level they’re at in their career when promoting themselves or their work – that’s a mistake.Don’t be afraid to be honest about where you’re at in your comedy career (even if you just started a week ago) and tell the stories of what you’re actually going through at the moment.
The stories of an open mic comic can be just as interesting as the stories of a headlining comic…if they’re told well. [tweet this]
You know what’s not interesting? The stories of an open mic comic who pretends they’re more than an open mic comic. Look at the experiences you’re having right now as an opportunity to share those stories with people as opposed to thinking you have to wait until you’re rich and famous to have a story to tell. Most people aren’t rich and famous and can’t relate to the stories of people who are – it’s actually much easier for them to relate to stories of people who are struggling to succeed.
What you might see as a challenge is actually an opportunity.
Where You’re Going: Don’t be afraid to share your goals and dreams as part of the story you tell to potential fans. People will be more likely to connect to you (and rally around you) if they know where you’re hoping to go and more importantly, why you want to go there. A great non-comedy example of this is social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk who constantly references that he hopes to someday own the New York Jets.
Does that have anything to do with his business? No, but it’s become a big part of his story. His fans know that’s his dream and that makes him more human.
Your Story Should Influence Everything You Create
Now that you (hopefully) are starting to think through what your story is and how you can tell it to people, the next thing to do is to realize that your story should influence everything you create. Your content – everything from your material on stage, to your tweets, to your videos, to your website, to your blog posts, to anything else you create – should be a reflection of the overall story you’re trying to tell.
That doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes create stuff just for the sake of it being funny, but ultimately you want it all to reflect your personal story. That may seem restrictive at first glance, but it actually should make content creation easier for you because if gives you a focus. If you’ve always wanted to blog but have no idea what to blog about, then why not start by telling your story?
Let the concept of “telling your story” be something that can guide you, help you find your voice and use it as a means to make your promotional efforts more compelling and less spammy.
For example, the next time you’ve got a show to promote take a couple minutes to think about if there’s a way to promote that show in the context of a story as opposed to just telling people to come to it. This is just a random example, but which of these tweets do you think people would be more interested in:
The Info Option: “I’m performing at the Local Comedy Club this Saturday night. Buy tickets here! (with a link to the tickets page)”
The Story Option: “Here’s 3 things I’m going to try for the first time ever on stage this Saturday night (with a link to a blog post on the subject)”
That’s just a random example, but hopefully it helps get across the idea that you can use storytelling to change the way you promote anything and drive more interest, attention, clicks, and most importantly – caring.
One Final Thought…
While a focus on telling your story can be a really helpful tool when it comes to promoting yourself (and creating content for that matter), it’s important to recognize that it won’t work if you’re not a good storyteller. It also won’t work if you try to make up your story – it’s got to be real because people will see through you if you’re trying to create an “image” of yourself that isn’t accurate.
Just like anything, it will take time for you to get a handle on what your story is and how to tell it, but the rewards if you do it right can be huge.