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Simplify Your Content With Sidedoor Stories With Jen Liddy
I’m looking forward to sharing this episode’s industry expert with you. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about story. More importantly, we’re going to be talking about the side door story. “What is that?” Maybe you’re asking yourself that. I was too, but you’re going to love finding out what it is, how to use it, and how it will be a game changer in your business. Let me tell you a little bit about our guest. Jen Liddy left her high school teaching career to avoid a life doomed by grading crappy ninth-grade Romeo and Juliet essays. In 2013, she made a terrifying leap to entrepreneurship and learned everything the hard way.
Now, as a content creation specialist, Jen helps personal brands uncomplicate content and step off the content creation dreadmill to get out of content chaos with strategies that easify, simplify and make the content feel good for you. Content creation can sometimes be something that could set you off on a spin, but we’re going to uncomplicate it for you, and we’re going to talk a lot about stories. Let’s talk about Jen. Jen, thank you so much for being here with me.
It will be fun. I’m excited, Patty. Thanks for having me.
I’m excited too. I could see how grading ninth-grade Romeo and Juliet essays would not be fun. What you’re doing right now does sound like fun getting off that dreadmill. That sounds exciting. Tell us a little bit about that. Here you were doing this, and when did the light bulb go off? What’s the story that made you get from that to taking that terrifying leap?
I’ll be brief. Essentially, I was a high school teacher. I taught English, and then I taught at the college level. I found that every day in the shower, I’d be washing my hair going, “Is it worth it to get a sub now, or should I just go in and do the thing?” That was an indication to me that I was on the edge of burnout. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I love teaching, and if I didn’t have to grade crappy essays and didn’t deal with parents, I would probably still be teaching.
I left teaching right before the onset of the smartphone, so when my students were playing with their phones under their desks, they were texting. They were pressing the sevens like JKL. Do you remember how we used to have to text that way? I can’t even say that technology drove me out of teaching, but the grading was grading.
I happened to be working with a personal trainer at the time who was struggling to take control of the back end of her business because she was amazing in the front of the house but in terms of organization, systems, communication, marketing, and all of those things, that wasn’t her strength. I was like, “I’m a linear thinker and a good communicator. I’m super organized. Let me help you.”
By slowly taking on some roles with her in terms of trading and helping her, we wound up becoming partners. I left teaching to step into this role as the operations and communications person for a brick and mortar fitness studio. That’s where I learned all of the things about entrepreneurship that you don’t learn. If you’re a teacher, you certainly don’t ever think you’re going to be doing this stuff.
I learned the hard way of having to figure it out, and all of the inflammatory thoughts that I had about, “Who am I to be doing this? I’m a teacher, I’m not a business person,” but I had to learn these things. When I learned them, I took them with me when I left that business. When I left that business, I was like, “I want to work for myself.” I want to help creative women because what I saw when I was always working at the front desk was my most creative clients at the fitness studio also usually had businesses, and they almost couldn’t get out of their own way.
Because I’m a super concrete sequential person, but my clients tend to think in highly creative circles in the ethers, I was like, “I can take your ideas and make them linear. We could put them to work.” As I started to do that for myself after I had left the fitness studio, I leaned more and more into my expertise, which was teaching and language, and then I became a content creation specialist, so that’s all I do now.
I don’t do general business coaching or accountability coaching anymore. It’s just leaning into this lane of helping people get out of the content chaos but to do it in a way that works for them because a superpower of teachers is they are able to meet people where they are and take them where they want to go and differentiate it for them. There’s not a one size fits all way to do marketing, and there’s not a one size fits all way to do the content piece of the marketing. That’s how I got where I am now. I just leaned into my strength.
The thing you said there that stopped me in my track is when you said parents. I was like, “It wasn’t the teenagers? It was the parents?” I was like, “What?” I get that, but I’m thinking, “Teenagers hitting this J and K or whatever,” and I think at that time, they made noise when they did that too. That must have been tough. I could see how that would’ve been the dreadmill and why you might have thought that maybe you needed a sub. I get that.
It’s funny because, for me, when I get in the shower, I have markers in my shower, and I get some of my best ideas in the shower that I would forget. Sometimes I get distracted, and I don’t call it squirrel. I call it Brilliant Idea syndrome. I finally literally put markers in my shower so I could write on the walls of my shower so that when I get out and dry off, I can be like, “What were those great ideas I had? There they are.”
The other place I think creative people need something like that is in their car because that’s where I get all of my ideas too. That’s why I always have my phone with me. A lot of times, content ideas come while you’re in the shower or the car. Getting them onto a note is so valuable.
It is funny that you say that because, for a long time, I did it this way. Now, I use my phone too, but I used to carry a little handheld recorder, and every time I get in the car alone, my husband’s like, “You talk to yourself?” I’m like, “Sometimes I need to talk to an expert.” However, when I get in the car, thank God people talk so much through their car phones that when I’m talking, they’re like, “Nobody’s in the car. Who’s she talking to?” It’s because I’m talking to myself. I’m going to tell you, I think of that through my speeches, all my stuff, and I record.
I had found that when I didn’t do that, I would think about it, and when I’d come home and go to write it down, I’m like, “No. That’s the concept, but I said it’s much better in the car.” I would then record it. Maybe you’re going to get five words, and then you’re going to erase, but those five words were the five words. The shower and the car are where all the brilliance is. On that note, let’s talk about content.
When I said those words, I don’t know how many people out there went, “Ugh,” because that’s how we feel when we think about content creation. We have many thoughts in our heads and ways we want to serve. There are so many things we want to say that we don’t know how to say them like, “How should I create it? What should I do?” Sometimes you’re an educator, and sometimes you’re more creative.
Now, you have all these pieces and let’s not even talk about what your strategy is going to be on how you’re going to put it out. There are so many different components. Before we go there, I always love to know what not to do as much as I love what to do, and I always like thinking about what the myths are. What are the BS stories that we’re telling ourselves? What are the myths and the BS stories that you hear over and over again? Let’s bust those right now first.
I’m so glad you asked me this question because I was going to dive into this. The first thing I want everybody to think about is how at capacity you feel right now. The number of messages you are taking in every day and the amount of overwhelm you feel in your life, your audience feels that too. The first thing you can do to ease some of your content frustration is to merely start saying less.
This doesn’t matter what platform you’re on. If you’re a TikTok or a reels person, you know you’ve got between 16 and 32 seconds to get their attention. That’s pretty much people’s capacity, but maybe instead, you are on LinkedIn, or you have an email, or maybe you have a podcast or blog. If you constantly feel like you need to come up with a huge caption for your Instagram post or a 45-minute solo podcast episode, I want you to know you don’t.
Your audience is subscribed to a lot of podcasts, and they can’t even consume it all. You’re allowed to say less. Have it be more impactful. Reach them with a message that’s so clear about what they need, but it doesn’t need to go on and on. I ironically took a long time to say less. That’s the first myth. You don’t need to say a lot. Another thing is every time you think, “I need to be on the new platform,” that is stressful for you. Even if you have a team or people behind you, it can feel like you’re like a piece of taffy being pulled so thinly. You have to decide what platforms are working for you. For example, I have a client who constantly told me she wanted to write a blog but hated writing.
Why would you try to have a blog if you hate writing? I have another client who struggles with writing, and she realized that she can open up her phone and do a quick video and now turn it into a reel, and it’s done for her. Where do you feel comfortable? That’s another myth. You think you need to be everywhere, but you’re not serving yourself or anybody because you can’t keep up with it.
That is so true. I tell this to my clients too. Sometimes when I feel resistance to something, I say, “Here’s the thing you got to know.” It’s like when you go to the gym, and they say, “I want to work on my abs, but I have a bad back and getting down on the floor and doing sit-ups isn’t going to work for me.” If that trainer is a good trainer, they’re going to say, “That’s okay. We’ll have you do a different exercise to work that muscle.”
It doesn’t mean that there’s a one size fits all like, “This is it. This is the one thing you have to do.” Like your client, five years ago, I realized that every time I sat down to write a blog, I couldn’t do it. Not because of that but because my brain would go so fast. I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up. Every time I had to sit down to do it, I would get sick to my stomach. I said one day, “I’m not going to blog anymore.”
I said, “I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to blog anymore. I’m a speaker. I’ll talk.” I decided, “Do you know what I think I’m going to do? I’m going to publish a magazine, and the magazine’s going to come out quarterly instead of weekly or monthly.” Now, I only have to write an article every three months. I can write an article every three months. For the past five years, I have had a magazine, and that took so much stress off of me.
To your point about less, it does make sense because the bottom line is if you are building up and you’re telling this whole big, long thing that you’re teaching, the fact of the matter is by the time you get to the point, they’re gone already. People want to know in snack size and little bites, “What do I need to do now? I’ll come to see your next post that will tell me what to do after that and what to do after that.”
I remember the days, and I’m sure you do too, when people used to write these super robust, beautiful newsletters, and I would go and look at them, “This is some great content. Let me put this over here in this folder. I’m going to come back and read it.” I never would get back there and read it. Whereas now, I have people who, sometimes, in their newsletter, it’s like a paragraph.
Also, because it’s only a paragraph and it tells me a story, they tie it back to whatever the point is that they’re doing, and I read it. I love the story. I read the point they were making out of it, and I move on. I feel like we’re shifting in the way that we have gone from this robust down to smaller snack-size content. In some ways, we should embrace that and be so thankful.
I love that you said we should embrace it, especially people who come from academia and now own their own business or who come from industry and now own their own business. It’s very hard for them to feel like it’s okay to not only say less but also make it more informal because that’s not how they were taught to be professional. When we’re talking marketing, that languaging is so different.
Another myth that I want to bust about this is that you don’t have to be stiff and “professional,” to be, and there’s this stamp that you’re supposed to be putting on of the authenticity and what that means. We’re going to talk about that a little bit more. That doesn’t mean bleeding all over the internet and bringing everybody into your gynecologist appointment with you. Authenticity doesn’t mean that, but it doesn’t have to be stiff. There’s already a veil between you and your audience, and the stiffer your language is and the more formal it is, the bigger the chasm between you.
If you can embrace that this is the way it is now, you can rage against it all you like, but for marketing purposes, this is the way that people want to consume content. I guarantee you there are people out there who still would love to write a 3,000-word blog. There’s probably still an audience for that, and it’s rich with SEO. I get all of that, but it’s depleting you to try to create that every single week. Also, it’s depleting your audience because they can’t keep up with you. You’re not only yourself a favor. You’re doing your audience a favor, too.
That’s true. Also, you said something that makes a lot of sense. Who are you even writing your content for? I know all the SEO people. I get it, and I understand SEO clearly. I understand there’s a need for that, but think about where your target people get their content. Look at your analytics. Are they staying on your website? The average time people spend on a website is two minutes or less. Are they consuming your content there or not? What are you using it for?
I figured out pretty quickly why people go to my website, how long they’re there, what they are consuming when they’re there, and where I should spend my time. When you are spending time on social, you have to know that you’re competing against all those animal photos that everybody thinks are so cute and all those cute babies and all of those things to stop the scroll.
You want people to know that. I have a friend who says, “Be brief, be bright, be gone.” It is so funny. She’s like, “If you can’t say it in a sentence, that’s hard.” I had a therapist come on the show once, and she said that our mind could only take about twenty words. Even in an elevator pitch, twenty words. She said, “Here’s the challenge.” After that, what happens is our mind starts striking out some of those words, and we don’t control what they strike out.
If you can keep it to less than twenty words, you can control the narrative. If you go over, they’re going to strike out the words, and they may be the words that are the most important words. When she says that, I always, in my mind now, count to make sure that I can keep it to 15 to 17 words I can. It’s not always what I have to do for what I’m doing, but I always have that in the back of my mind making sure that when possible, I do that.
Say less. You can come back to that every time. What we can talk about here, and this is a great place to shift into, is that you’re vying for attention on whatever platform it is you’re using. What I’m going to talk about now is very relevant. A lot of people equate content with social media. Social media is a tool that we use to share our content. I’d love to disabuse people of thinking like, “She’s talking about content, so she must be talking about TikTok or Instagram.” I’m not.
I’m talking about where you love to be and where your people are. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, “How are you showing up so that your audience can hear you with the words they need to hear?” It’s not what you want to talk about. It’s what they need to hear. That’s another shift that people need to make. What almost always grabs people’s attention is talking and sharing value through a story.
If people could learn more about how to use the story in a strategic way that relates to the audience, it would make it interesting for the audience so that they can gain your trust, learn more about you, and eventually hire you, but it’s a long road. Storytelling is a great strategy for people to use. We can talk about the different ways to tell stories. If you’re not using stories in your content now, what you might be doing is sharing a lot of “value” by telling people what to do like, “Here are three steps to get a better night’s sleep. Here are seven things that a strong leader has.”
You wind up teaching and teaching, and you don’t find any conversions or engagement with that. That’s because your people are not only at capacity. Maybe they’ve heard it before, but what they’re doing with that is they’re thinking, “She’s teaching me the hows. This is so awesome. I need the hows. I’m going to save this for later and go back to it because I don’t have time right now.”
If anybody’s reading, like you and me, and I do the same thing, I never go back to that kind of stuff, but if you can engage them with a story and get them thinking critically about the thing that you want to teach them, it’s much more impactful to them, and they will remember it more. It will become part of them. They’re like, “I remember that story you told about X, Y, and Z,” and then they’re engaged with your content.
Also, they know somebody they want to share it with, but if somebody reading is questioning that, there is a reason why everywhere, even on Instagram, where you can click and save it. If you pick out your phone, pick up your phone and go to your saved collection on your phone, how many things do you have saved? I have so many saved, and whenever sometimes I’m thinking about content, I go to my saved for inspiration. You don’t always go back and look at them, but you save them.
The thing is, if you are doing it, then your people are probably doing it as well. Those three things, seven things, or whatever, make a lot of sense. We’ve been told for a long time, “You need to add value,” and that’s what we keep hearing. That’s why people think I need to shove as much value as I can so that you can see that I give valuable information so you’ll hire me, but they’ve probably moved on.
What I want to say about the value piece is if you’ve shared value by telling something educational and giving all the steps away, I’m not even talking about how you feel like you’re being generous and giving, but it’s not valuable if people aren’t using it. That’s not creating value, number one. Number two, when you give away so much of the hows, your audience gets lulled into thinking they should be able to do this on their own.
“Patty told me the three things I should be doing to get more speaking gigs or be a better leader, or whatever it is.” She’s telling me right there, why can’t I do this, and that’s because we know, as experts, people need their hands held. They need more than information. It’s setting your audience up for failure if you are only focused on all of that how-to valuable content.
That is so true, and I learned it the hard way or the humbling way. I am an educator at heart. I was a trainer before I became a speaker. When I became a speaker, they would always say, “Give your speech and then leave this time in the end for Q&A.” I have to tell you that in the history of my career, in which I have been a speaker for many years, I have never had anybody ask me a question in Q&A.
I don’t even do the Q&A anymore because the fact of the matter is nobody would ever ask any questions, and I couldn’t figure it out, “I’m so approachable. Why would somebody not ask me?” I finally started asking people, not from the stage, but I would ask them like, “You didn’t have any questions?” Pretty soon, people finally got brave enough. They would say to me, “Patty, you gave us so much information. I needed to implement all that information before I took in any other information. You’re so generous with your brilliance and stuff.”
I realized I was doing them a disservice because they probably weren’t even going to start the things that I gave them because they were so overwhelmed by how much I gave them. It took me time. I thought that’s what I was being paid to do. That was the value I was bringing. It took a while for me to realize that they just needed to know what was the thing they needed to get started or to take the next step and maybe the step after that. That’s all they need. They’ll come back to you after that and say, “Patty, I did that. It worked, and then I did that. What do I do next?”
We are coming back to that say less.
If you can do it in a story, sometimes they don’t recognize the thing, but they recognize it in a story. You’re nailing it now, which is important. I have to tell you. It was hard and humbling for me to get that. If you resonate with this, tell me. How I was taking it was that, “If I’m going to give you this much value for free, how much value would I give you if you wrote me a check?” I thought that was what I was saying. They’d be like, “Look at all this that she taught us, and we didn’t even have to pay for that. If I hired her, can you imagine?”
That is not true. It makes you feel good, and this is what I think happens. If what you’re hearing from people all the time are compliments, having people tell you how brilliant you are, having people say all of those things, but they’re not hiring you, you’ve given them too much to consume. Do you want compliments or cash?
I’ve even learned this, and this might be helpful for people in your audience. It’s even inside my membership, which is the Content Creators Studio, where every single month, I teach an element of content creation to make it easier. You might use the word dumbed down if you were coming from academia, which is where I came from, and, “I would have to dumb it down for people,” but it’s not. I did a training on how to write your About page. As I was going through creating the training, I was like, “This is way too much for them. They’re going to feel totally overwhelmed by this. They’re not going to be able to take action.”
I taught them how to create the first of your About page. Even that for them was like, “I don’t know if got this,” and then they got to do it. Everywhere in our lives, we can benefit ourselves and our audience by saying less. It doesn’t mean you’re not bringing value. It means that you’re giving people the opportunity to have tangible success.
That is probably true for most of my life because I remember that when I had teenagers, and I would tell them, “Do this and do this,” I couldn’t tell them more than three things. If I told them five things, they would come back, and their brain couldn’t hold five things. I would say, “What did I just tell you to do? I know that you heard me.” They’ll repeat them back to me, and then they’ll come back 15 minutes later. They’re like, “I forgot.”
I’m not saying that we’re teenagers, but the fact of the matter is there’s a lot going on in our brains at the same time. If you’re creative, once people start teaching it and telling me, part of the reason I can’t take anymore after that is because as soon as they start the first thing, part of my brain is listening. Also, the other part of my brain is thinking about how I’m going to implement the thing that they told me first.
Some people may be detail-oriented. For them, it’s all about making sure they have all the details before they would start, but whatever it is, we all have different communication styles and how we take in information. I would always do that. The greatest thing that happened to me when I used to go to events all the time is I had a friend who could type at the speed of sound. Literally, she could get every word, even the ums, as they were saying it. She was that good of a typist.
When we would go to events, she would be typing, and I’d be taking notes, trying to keep up. I’d miss things they were saying because I was trying to do them. Finally, one day she said to me, “Patty, I’m going to tell you what, you’re the best strategist I’ve ever met. How about I take notes on what they’re saying, and you take notes on strategy?” I never took notes anymore on that, and she taught me a framework of how to take ideas and strategies. That’s all I do now, and it became such a beautiful thing for me to do that.
I would share strategies for me and for her. She would send me the notes, and we would swap. Now, we don’t have that person, but it did teach me very quickly what my strengths were and how I take in things. I know that a lot of times when I’m saying yes or when I’m saying no to things, how I choose whether I purchase or not is in the format that I know I’m the best at taking in. We should be thinking about that when we’re thinking about who our right-fit clients are and how they want to take it in too. You are right. Less is more, for sure.
Now, I want to talk about this side door story because here’s the thing. When I hear stories, sometimes people, taking them into the gyno office was probably the best way I’ve ever heard somebody say that. My gut was belly laughing when you said that, but it is true. We all know how some people, the stuff that they will share under the guise of being vulnerable and authentic, you could tell your story, but some of the detail is a lot.
When I hear that, even when it touches my heart, and I’m thinking, “I want to give them a hug right now. I want to call them on the phone. I want to pray for them,” whatever the case may be, for me, it doesn’t always mean I’m going to hire them. One thing has nothing to do with the other, but usually, I’m thinking, “Were you brave?”
I’m not saying that I don’t think people should be authentic and vulnerable at times, but at the same time, less could be more as well in some of those things. The other flip of that is I’ve also had clients come to me and say, “Patty, I don’t have any stories to share. I haven’t had this great triumphant thing happen to me. I haven’t gone through something and come out the other side. I haven’t had this horrible tragedy thing happen to me. I’ve had a well-balanced regular life. What kind of stories can I share?” First of all, let’s define side-door stories because I love them.
There are lots of different ways to tell stories. There’s your basic story, which I call a front door story. You walk into the house, and you have a story to tell. A great example of a front door story is, “Here’s a client’s success story. Let me tell you. This is where she started. This is where she is now. This is what happened in the middle.” It’s a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it’s very clear why I’m telling this story.
In front of your show, you asked me, “Tell me your story.” I started with, “I was a teacher, then I moved into entrepreneurship, then shifted, and here I am now.” It’s very basic. It’s an easy-to-see story, “I’ve told you I’m going to tell you a story. Here’s the story,” and you followed along very easily. It’s an obvious way to tell stories. This is an acceptable way to tell stories.
What happens as a content creator is sometimes you get a little bored with telling those kinds of stories, and you want to get to the next level of storytelling, or you want to play around with it because you will get bored with your content way before your audience gets bored with your content. You have to come up with ways to tell stories in a more interesting way, and that’s where I came up with the idea of side door stories.
It sounds like it’s more complicated, but once you get the hang of it, I promise you can use this. The first thing you have to buy into is that everything is content. Everything is a potential story. Going to Target is a potential story. I had the cable guy come to deal with some of our stuff on our internet, and I immediately started seeing stories I could tell my audience. I’ll break this down for you, but I want you to think of this as a less obvious way for you to make connections to your audience.
There are ways to do it. I’m going to break those down too. A side door story, I want you to start to think about the topics for your audience that are probably pretty important for them. For most people, especially in the coaching space, I could list a bunch of things that are applicable to almost everybody’s audience, like boundaries, confidence, kindness, inner criticism, communication, and self-care. Almost every coach is going to be talking about those things.
If you are always coming into a story about boundaries and talking about boundaries, you are going to get bored with your own content, and it won’t resonate with your audience. I’m going to take boundaries, for example. Every single morning, my dog begs for his breakfast, but the cat also likes to eat from his dish, and it drives him bonkers. Before he submits to eating his own meal in his own dish, which he desperately wants, he has to stop himself from eating and circle the perimeter of the house three times to make sure she’s not going to encroach on his breakfast, nor can he stand for her to even watch him. He has to do this thing. He can’t tolerate it.
He makes this very clear boundary in his little teeny tiny dog world about his stupid breakfast bowl, and he does not apologize for it, even though the rest of us are going, “Max, give me a break. You’re such a ding dog.” We are always teasing him. He doesn’t understand, but this is his instinctual way of holding a boundary for himself. That would be a way to talk about boundaries in a way that is a little bit funny. It lets your audience know a little bit about your life and gets them to see this idea of holding space without it being like, “I’m going to talk about boundaries now.” How does that sit with you?
It sits well, and I love it, but I have a question. We’re going to use that exact example. If somebody used that exact example happened, would you feel the need, or would you need to then tie the story to a business principle?
For me, yes. You want to tie it to a business principle or whatever principle. If you’re a health coach, you want to tie it to your health coaching. Whatever it is, you want to tie it back, so your audience doesn’t have to do the work of extrapolating the lesson in it. This is way easier than you think it should be. I call them trail markers. Along the way, while you’re telling the story or when you’re ready to transition into the lesson after you’ve told your little story, it’s something like, “This is a great example of this and that.”
“You might see this happening in your marketing also,” or, “This is why this kind of thing is why it’s also important with your sleep cycles,” or whatever it is you’re talking about. A little phrase moves you from this abstract like, “Why the hell is she telling me this thing?” In fact, “Why are you telling me this thing,” is another great transition into the more practical piece of the story, but all you need is one little bridge statement that gets people from your little story. I’m talking about a dog and a cat eating breakfast. This is not the depths of humanity moment.
No, but when you were talking about boundaries, this is what I’m going to say I felt. I love the story. I leaned into the story. I thought, “This was so great,” but then when you got to the end of the story, I realized that you’re teaching us something now. I thought to myself, “That’s great,” and because it’s about boundaries and you say that, I was waiting for you to say it. Some of you may be feeling this in your business. What do you do that maybe you’re setting up a boundary, or is there a boundary that your client needs to have?
To me, I’m like, “I’m a business person, and I’m connected to you on business. You’re not my best friend.” It’s not like my best friend told me that story so she could end it there, and I’d laugh, and it would be a story. If I’m in business now, I’m thinking, “How are you tying it into something?” To me, it’s about boundaries. Now, I want to hear the lesson.
What I shared in the beginning story part was the setup. It’s to hook you. It’s to get you leaning in and saying, “My dog does this too.” You start to think about it and visualize it, but my job as the content creator is to make that leap for you. What you said was, “How might this resonate in your business now?” Let’s say I worked with family dynamics. How might this be resonating with your family right now, or whatever it is? That is your job as the content creator. I want to say that as content creators, we have a heavy lift. We have to come up with the story and make it interesting, and we have to make the leap for our audience because they shouldn’t have to extrapolate, “What’s the lesson here for me to apply to this thing?”
What you did that I love, which was almost like another myth buster, is that when I said what I said, which was, “You told us that story, I loved it,” I was waiting, which you were stopping because you were going on with what we were going to talk about and then I was like, “Now, she’s going to tie that into boundaries.” The thing that popped into my head when I was listening to you say that is, “Before we had this conversation, I would have thought if somebody was going to do that on social, then now I want them to draw the story for me of the boundary.”
Now is the business piece, but the way you left it open-ended reminded me of how when I’m a speaker, I don’t want to tell the whole story because I want them to be in the story thinking about filling in the blanks. Here, I’m telling you the story about the dog and the cat. How could this be happening in yours, and their brain will fill in that spot versus me having to teach the business lesson that may resonate with some people but may not resonate with some people? However, if they fill in the blank of how the story relates to something in their business, you get more buy-in because it’s their story now too.
When you are asked a question, your brain can’t help but fill in the answer. Let me give you another example. I told you that the cable guy came. There are so many things that happened when this cable guy came. He blew away my expectations of what usually happens when the cable guy comes. He went throughout our entire house, and he found all of the problems that we were having. He found splitters all over the house. He found these things called amplifiers that weren’t working anymore.
It was like a nightmare mess, and the house the internet was chugging too hard, and no wonder it wasn’t working. It was split up into a thousand places. The other thing that happened was I was looking at my whole cable system through the eyes of this person, and I was like, “This is a nightmare. This is a mess.” With that one thing that happened alone, there are so many stories I could extrapolate from that. In your own content, for example, “Do you have splitters going off? Are you thinking something is an amplifier, and it’s not working for you? Would it be better to upgrade to one platform you can lean into and have it do that hard work for you?”
That could be a story that I pull out of here. Another story I could pull out of it would be, “Have you reviewed your message from your content messaging through the eyes of your audience?” Are they seeing it the way that you are seeing it just like the cable guy was seeing the cable box and all of the nightmare of wires the way that he was seeing it versus how I was seeing it? It was like, “I have stopped seeing the landscape of these wires in my living room for years at this point.” There are so many things. Is your customer service what people expect? Are they going to be pleasantly surprised? What I mean is anything as banal as the cable guy coming.
When you start to think about what your audience needs to learn and start saying, “How is this thing,” like this thing that I teach, you start until you can’t stop yourself. You’re like, “This thing happened when I was waiting for my kid in the bus line, and it reminds me of this thing that my clients do,” and that becomes a story. The more that you practice this, the better that you get at it. It makes creating content for you way more fun. It’s way more fun for your audience to read that type of stuff too.
The other thing it does is an old-school marketing strategy that a lot of people are still doing. They’ve been told that there should be a call to action in every single thing they do. You read to the end, and then it’s, “Get on a call with me. Go click on this. Buy this,” or whatever the case may be, but when you tell stories, it gives me a lens into who they are and are they the right vibe for me. The reality is whether they said book a call and click here or not, if I got the right vibe and thought, “I love the way she does the story. I think she could help me,” they wouldn’t even have to invite me.
I would know to go to their website, and I’m sure that if somebody does discovery calls, there’s probably a place on their website to do it. I don’t have to see it in their social post. I could go to their website, and I could find it. I was talking about this thing with somebody else, and I realized that in the last three clients that hired me, I had never had a conversation with them, and every one of them referenced something from my social.
There was this thing I did on Instagram, which she didn’t even like or comment on. I’ve been following this whole story thread that you’ve been talking about this on LinkedIn, and one of them was like, “I heard you speak five years ago, but then I saw you post something, and it reminded me of what you spoke about.” They all contacted me, and all three of them hired me and all on the same day too, which was coincidental. With that said, don’t think for one second that whether people are engaging with you or not engaging, they are still reading and seeing. When people get to see you as a person who is also an expert, there are a lot of experts that do what you do. They’re choosing to work with a person who has your expertise, and you need to show up as the person first and the expert second.
The other thing is when you ask somebody a question like, “How is this the boundary situation that’s going on in your business? What can you do this week to think about this or that?” whatever the point or lesson you’re trying to make is, that is a call to action. It’s not picking up the phone and calling me, but it is getting them focused on thinking more critically about a thing they may have never linked before and they may never have felt safe enough to ask before.
Sometimes when you come in through the side door and present something in a softer and more entertaining way, it is valuable. Also, it might get them thinking like, “I never thought about that before, and now I feel a little safer, a little not judged.” It’s like “This is happening to other people. Maybe now I’m a little bit more willing to take action on it.”
That is so much easier to think about instead of thinking, “I need to post something. What brilliant thing do I want to talk about?” and figure out how you’re going to break that down into this many pieces and all that stuff. Honestly, there are a million stories. I knew this girl once who used to tell the most amazing stories, and I asked her one time. I said, “Which comes first for you? The story or the lessons?”
She says, “I always think about stories and stuff.” This is the one line that I remember. She was Italian. She was in her 30s and hadn’t gotten married yet. She’s telling this story about how her mother went to these nuns and asked them to pray for her daughter to find a husband and whatever. The funniest part about it is that when she was done with the time that they were supposed to pray for her, she said, “My mom had to decide whether she would renew the subscription.” It was so funny the way she took that and said, “Is she going to renew the subscription because I still hadn’t found her a husband, or was she going to ask them to upsell her into a better package?”
It was so funny how she took that funny story with the nuns and made it all about upselling, sales, and subscriptions. It was so hilarious that literally, I probably heard that story years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. I thought it was so funny, but the reality is she never gave an answer. She tied the two things together, and it was so entertaining. I like side-door stories even better than front-door stories.
They’re fun once you start to get them. One of the things I want to share with anybody who’s reading is you don’t have to be funny. You might be thinking, “I’m not clever. I’m not funny. I’m not a good storyteller. My mother told me I was always a crappy storyteller.” You can learn how to do this. The best way to learn how to do this is by reading good stories and asking yourself how it is like that.
Because we’ve talked so much about saying less, your stories don’t have to be long or epic, or highly detailed. Some people get mired down in the details. You might start with the story like, “The cable guy came.” I’m telling you. The minute the cable guy came, my brain started working overtime on stories I could share with my audience and then the others you could reverse engineer, “I want to teach my audience about doing less. Where can I find examples in my life of that lessons?” You can reverse engineer it. You can go back and forth either way. There’s no one right way to do it. Start training your brain, and you’re going to be shocked at how much goodness it brings you.
This has been phenomenal, Jen. I love storytelling. I even think this would be something if you’re a speaker and a lot of people who read my show are speakers. This is a good way to be able to pull in these side-door stories in your speech too. A lot of times, when we’re speaking, you tell a story. You got to take them through the whole loop, and you got to take them out of the mucky muck and bring them back. These side-door stories help to expand your thoughts. Even though you’re saying less, they’re thinking more. I like that. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us because this has been fabulous.
I’m glad that you are so excited about it. I hope every single person here feels as excited about telling a little tiny story. Again, it does not have to be epic, but I want to encourage everybody to think about, “How this is like that, and how can I share it with my audience?”
That is such a great takeaway. If that’s not enough audience, she came bearing a gift. Her gift is going to help you too. Tell everybody about your gift.
One of the things I found over and over for people who create content is that planning gets in their way for lots of reasons. It feels very overwhelming. They have so much to say. They’re too creative to plan and all of those things. I created a customized content planner because I saw over and over crappy planners out there, like a big sheet of blank squares. I’m like, “That is not helpful if somebody doesn’t know how to plan content.” I created the customized content planner that brings you through how to get your ideas out of your head, plan them out, and then wring more out of them so that it goes further. You can download the customized content planner at JenLidddy.com/contentplanner.
I know everyone’s going to want to connect with you. How can they connect with you?
Simply go to my website, JenLiddy.com.
They can connect with you and get the content planner all in the same place. As if you didn’t give us enough information, it was so great, and I love that it’s like you gave us less, but more. You managed to do that for us. We always like to end the show by asking you your number one marketing media or money strategy.
It’s not going to surprise you, but I’m a teacher. I have two Master’s degrees in Education. My favorite way to market is to teach people things that give them value they can take action on right away and give them a small win. My strategy is I use tactics like social media. I have a podcast called Content Creation Made Easy. When it comes down to nurturing somebody to convert them to a client, I almost always either get them by referral or it’s the teaching because once people understand that can be a lot easier, they want more.
That makes a lot of sense. That’s a great strategy to use. Thank you so much, Jen, for being here with me. Make sure you grab the planner. Make sure you connect with her. She has a lot of great information on her website. She made the planner editable, which is wonderful. I wish everybody had done that. That is great. You put some thought into that as well. I appreciate you being here with me.
I appreciate you giving me a platform to share this with people. Thank you so much, Patty.
To the audience, thank you so much for being here again with us. I love it if you show up week after week. I appreciate it. If you’re joining us for the first time, thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I’m sure you did. Please subscribe so you don’t miss any more great information. While we’re thanking people, I couldn’t go without thanking our sponsor.
Meg Schmitz is the Founder of the Take the Leap Franchise Consulting Company. Did you know the franchise industry is booming as people look to diversify their income streams with essential businesses without having to quit their day job? To learn more and to schedule a call, go to MegSchmitz.com. The conversation is free, but the insights are priceless. Thank you so much for being here. I hope you have a phenomenal week. We’ll see you again next episode.