The Story Inception

Digital Business Strategy Program

Q&A

I’ve put this doc. together based on feedback and questions asked about the Story Inception Method & Digital Business Strategy Program.  The most common question I received — by far — is some variation of...

'Will The program work for my business?'

I’m going to unpack a part of the puzzle that I hope will help answer this question for you.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. (Ours is a world of probabilities, not absolutes.)

So, instead of providing a definitive answer, I'll explain how I think about that question so you can answer it for yourself.

Before I do that, it's important that I establish a foundation. How I think about (and teach) marketing is less about the business, and more about the business owner.

From that perspective, here are five characteristics you will find SIM has — if these resonate with you, it's likely that you'll find it valuable.

If these ideas don't resonate with you, I am probably not a good fit for your needs (but we can still be friends!)

#1: Lead with empathy for an audience you seek to serve.

That means taking the time to understand your audience's fears and desires, and a willingness to provide value (i.e., create customers) before money changes hands.

#2:  Relationships first, transactions second.

Invest in building trust and rapport with your audience first, knowing that positive results (for you and your customers) will follow.

#3: Emphasise durability and play the long (infinite) game.

We're building assets that last for the long term, get stronger with adversity, and adapt (and improve) along the way.

As infinite players in the infinite game of business, our focus is on cooperation vs. competition, and improving ourselves, not 'beating' other players around us in a game of winner takes all.

#4: Frameworks/Templates. SIM will 'teach you how to fish'.

Together we go through a 60-day process that will show you how to think about different aspects of marketing — Connection, Community, and Conversions — as well as how I think about each one (and how they fit together into a cohesive whole).

This is combined with practical exercises that you have to complete before you can move on... 

#5: Optimize the whole system for what matters most. 

For me, that means optimizing for happy customers. Every decision I make is held to that standard.

I’m not optimizing for clicks, leads, or even sales — I’m subordinating all of my decision-making to one goal for the entire business. 

That may sound complicated but, once you've internalized the idea, everything is easier and far more powerful.)

Returning to the original question — is SIM right for your business?

Ask yourself these questions...

Then pay attention to how your answers feel.

  • Do I care enough about my audience to do the work necessary to identify their deepest needs and desires?
  • Am I willing to give value first and trust that value will return back to me as a result. (If your idea of 'value first' means give me your email and I'll send you my lead magnet, then that is not what I mean.)
  • Am I willing to play the game of business with an infinite mindset, focusing on improving myself to improve my results?
  • Do I want to learn how to think about marketing vs. what to think?
  • Do I know what I want to optimize my business for at the highest, system-wide level (and am I willing to subordinate all decision-making to that goal)?

There is no right answer to these questions — there's only your answer.

If you read those questions and feel a sense of excitement, the program is probably right for you. 

If instead, you read those questions and feel anxiety or unease, they probably aren't. 

Not yet.

That's not meant to be overly simplistic. 

However, one thing I've learned over the years is to trust my judgment. 

If something feels 'off' to you, it probably is.

Derek Sivers said it best -

"If you're not saying 'HELL YEAH!' about something, say 'no'.
When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than 'Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!' — then say 'no.'
When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say 'HELL YEAH!'"


I hope this email helped answer this question.

If nothing else, I hope it helps give clarity on the idea that plugging anything into your business, does not make magic happen. 

What does is the approach you have to it and the way you think about your customers. SIM will help you develop a meta marketing strategy that will influence your thinking long term...

SIM is not magic fairy dust that you just sprinkle.

The magic is in understanding that there are unpredictable positive behaviors when you treat your business as a system optimized for one goal and that all the parts work to serve that single goal.

The magic is in the interaction of the parts working together to produce a happy customer factory.

If this resonates with you, I welcome you to come on a journey with me:

Let's start by having a chat... You can book a call at a mutually convenient time, with me here.
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The next topic is storytelling.

It's a central part of what I do and what I teach.

It's also often greatly misunderstood.

I’m going to teach this from two slightly different perspectives because I've both been shaped by different experiences. 

Together, I hope how I've expressed the essence of storytelling and how accessible it is to everyone (no matter how 'boring' you may think your life experiences are) is helpful.

If that connects with you in the gut, or heart, let me know.

Okay, first up:

Stories convey emotion and inspire action. They pull our audiences toward us naturally, magnetically, and powerfully.

I’m going to explain how to make storytelling easier and more effective. However, before I do that, I want to take a step back, peek behind the curtain, and shine a light on what I’m really doing here.

Yes, I’m sharing ideas I've been thinking about for a long time.

And yes, I’m drawing attention to how the programme I have created fits within those larger ideas so that the right people can self-select what fits their needs when the time is right for them.

But, I’m also doing something else — something that's more subtle, and arguably much more powerful. And that requires some explanation…

Benjamin Zander has been the conductor for the Boston Philharmonic orchestra since 1979. His staggeringly beautiful TED talk — The transformative power of classical music — has been viewed more than fourteen millions times.

To put that in perspective, fourteen million minutes is nearly twenty-seven years.

Toward the end of his presentation, Zander described a moment that changed everything for him.

"I was 45 years old - I'd been conducting for twenty years - and I suddenly had a realization: the conductor of an orchestra doesn't make a sound…
He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful. That changed everything for me…
I realized my job was to awaken possibility in other people."

When you strip away all of the details, that's what I’m really doing - awakening possibility in others - perhaps even in you…

These emails are meant to educate and inspire, of course. But, more than that, I want you to see the possibility that exists when you take action in the direction of something meaningful to you.

But, it's not just inspiration.

That only lasts so long.

It's also about action — relentless, consistent commitment to actions large and small. Day after day, iterating your way to your unique definition of success.

When it involves storytelling, taking action - putting words behind periods, as the writing coach likes to say — is where I see my customers encounter challenges.

"I don't have any good stories to tell — what do I do?"

I get this question A LOT.

It's so (so!) easy to over-complicate storytelling.

Don't!

Think small, start with whatever is right in front of you, and you'll realize that inspiration for stories is everywhere, including:

  • In the books you've read.
  • In the movies and videos you've watched.
  • From the pithy conversations you've had.
  • In the podcasts you listen to.
  • From what you’ve learned from the articles you've read.
  • Jokes and anecdotes you've heard… stories entertain too.
  • From what you have observed… People and situations
  • And much more…

The most common mistake people make when using stories in their marketing is assuming that they have to tell their story.

Personal stories certainly can work, especially if they communicate valuable insights to your audience.

More often than not, however, relying solely on your own day to day experience leads eventually to 'stories' like:

"The other day I was driving to the mall and someone cut me off.
I was so mad, and that reminded me how I used to feel mad all the time before I discovered X, Y, Z supplement ... now I feel like a million bucks every day..."

(With an obligatory affiliate link to that magical supplement, of course.)

Yawn.

If you're regularly consuming information, stories are all around you. Stories need to be interesting and engaging, but they don't need to be about you!

In January 2020, Impact Theory founder Tim Bilyeu interviewed motivational speaker (and master storyteller) Les Brown.

After recounting a series of health and other challenges Brown has faced (including Stage 4 cancer), Bilyeu asked: 

"In the beginning, how did you crawl out from under the labels people were putting on you?"


What happened next is amazing. 

Brown began to answer the question, and then transitioned effortlessly to a story about American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Then, he switched back to his own experience and finished answering the question.

The story Brown shared about Mead is vivid and memorable. It captured the audience's attention and made Les Brown's point for him.

It didn't matter that the story wasn't about him or that he wasn't even present for the event. It's a story Brown had heard, and telling that story answered the question Bilyeau had asked perfectly.

Watch that exchange here (through 9m:43s).

(Make sure you watch the entire interview too. Les Brown is a master of his craft and his skills are on full display. Their conversation is awe-inspiring.)

However, a word of caution...

Not all stories have the same power. Many fall flat.

How do you know if a story is worth sharing? Simple — how does it make you feel when you tell it?

Sad?

Angry?

Inspired?

Moved?

Curious?

Engaged?

Anxious?

Powerful?

I share stories because I want my audience to feel something. 

If you don't feel something when you share the story, it's likely your audience won't feel anything either.

Stories also create tension, and tension seeks resolution. That need to resolve tension pulls your audience forward as if they're tethered to a giant elastic band.

And, just like the punch line of a good joke, there's a payoff when the story resolves. 

If you want to experience what this resolution feels like viscerally, listen to Kevin Costner tell Graham Norton about helping a difficult friend.

Kevin Costner - Story Inception Method

In less than two and a half minutes, Costner builds tension. 

And, just like Ben Zander's rendition of Chopin, that tension builds and builds and builds until it finally releases unexpectedly.

Listen to the audience's reaction at 2m24s - that's what resolution sounds like. 

That's what you want your audience to feel when you weave stories into your communication.

Stories are all around you, waiting to be woven into your communication. 

Start simple 

Pick a favorite scene in a movie that fits what you want your audience to feel and build a message around that.

Here are three options to choose from for practice.

Pick one that fits a project you're working on (or a project you hope to work on), and see where it leads. Weave the story in delicately, or make it the core idea.

The primary goal of a story is to elicit emotion.

This can be overt or subtle like this email. 

Both work because story is the (emotional) delivery vehicle for the (marketing) message.

A simple workflow I use goes like this:

  1. What is the marketing message you want to send?
  2. Find a story that creates context and a lead-in to deliver #1 (This rarely needs to be your story.).

One last thing ... 

The most important lesson I shared today is hidden in plain sight.

Once you see it, everything changes.

If you're ready, here's my invitation to you to join me on this journey.
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Let’s dive down a bit of a rabbit hole...

It will require you to use your gray matter to internalize some ideas. If you do, the reward could be seismic.

Promise.

Ready? ...

If you spend any time selling either online via Zoom or face to face in the real world, you'll understand the need to handle objections smoothly and effectively.

The conventional way of selling is to pitch your offer, then plan for all of the ways someone might say 'No', 'I'm not sure', 'Let me think about it', or 'Let me talk with my spouse', and have an answer prepared (or, even better, pre-built into your copy).

If you've ever been subject to a hardcore sales experience, especially over the phone (framed as a free coaching call), you know it can feel gross.

Even if the product or service is great, high-pressure selling can leave customers feeling manipulated, bullied and coerced (or worse, tricked).

I believe there's a better way (shocker!).

Instead of focusing on handling objections, I think about establishing a series of beliefs...

What does someone need to internalize and believe before s/he can accept an offer as the right solution for him (or her) at that moment in time?

When you focus on objections, you're framing your thinking in the negative. 

You're assuming someone will say no, and your energy and attention are trying to turn a no into a yes.

The subtext is to try and sell 'everyone', because pretty much everyone is fair game in this model.

That's exhausting and, let's be honest, it's not a lot of fun.

In contrast, establishing beliefs is inherently positive...

I’m assuming the right people will want to say yes because I've taken the time to take them patiently and methodically on a journey where what I have to offer is the obvious, logical choice for their needs.

Maybe not at this precise moment — but at the right moment for them when they're ready to buy.

I'll unpack this idea with a few examples. The Inception Engine within SIM takes a deep dive into this 'chain of beliefs'.

OK, let's look at the importance of beliefs from three perspectives:

  • Yours.
  • Mine.
  • Us (i.e. You and me).

What I’m really doing here is awakening possibility in others.

To do that effectively, I need you to believe that what you have to share with the world is valuable.

If you don't accept that, nothing I do or say really matters. Sure, you might buy SIM, you might take action, and you might even get a few meaningful results.

But you won't go the distance.

You won't push through when it gets hard (and guess what, it always gets hard — don't believe anyone who tells you different).

Until you believe — deep inside — that you can create real value for an audience, I will not have accomplished my primary objective (which is awakening possibility in you).

The other side of the coin is whether I believe in the version of marketing I do and teach.

Let's unpack this a little more because the distinction is important:

Belief = Noun: an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.

Facts = objectively verifiable.

I'm 6'1". Clearly defined. Specific. Easily verifiable. No grey area.

A Belief can't be objectively verified. A Belief is based on education, experience and context. It’s based on a gut feeling.  A level of faith is required. There is  no empirical data that supports it. 

People believe what they want to believe.

Religion is the obvious example because truth is subjective in that context. It can't be held up in a court of law and defended with empirical data. It's an act of faith. Conditioning. And Perception.

A series of beliefs built up over time forms our world view. Together they form a bubble around us that new ideas have trouble penetrating. We are safe in our comfort zone.

If your potential customer is to buy from you, they must take on board and agree to new beliefs that move them towards an inevitable conclusion… That you are the person they must do business with.

The version of marketing I do and teach requires a level of belief you need to accept that it'll work for you, in your unique context, for your audience, and for the product or service you provide.

I can't promise you this.

I can't objectively guarantee that if you do the work to your best ability, the outcome you get will be an order of magnitude better than what you have now.

Many marketers will dole out guarantees left and right, like cotton candy at a fairground, that if you follow 'their system', you'll earn whatever promised riches.

But I’m not one of these marketers (again, shocker!).

I wholeheartedly believe in my version of marketing because it's what I do myself, and, for me, the results are undeniable and verifiably.

Black and white.

I've seen businesses transformed when they follow my lead, not just in the results they see, but in how they feel about the work they do.

Moving from a finite to an infinite mindset requires a belief that (future) downstream results will be desirable and (subjectively) inevitable.

A leap of faith, yes. But only because you're starting on a new journey that for you is still unproven… and uncomfortable (at least to start with) like any journey.

Iterating away from the almost instant results of direct response with its default short time horizon to the longer time horizon when you choose — fortified with belief — to play a very different game and know you're on the right path to where you want to get.

I also have to believe in what I’m offering. (Notice I didn't say what I’m selling.) That's certainly important, but it's much more than that.

I have to believe, without reservation, that:

  • Every idea I've shared in my free content (emails, articles, manifestos, comments, etc.) is accurate and effective.
  • Every example I've given conveys the truth about the specific example, and is representative of a larger truth (not just a one off, lucky exception).
  • The principles I've built Story Inception around — like leading with value, playing the infinite game, thinking in probabilities, etc. — are the most effective way for you to get results.
  • My actions — how I do what I do — is 100% congruent with what I teach.

That brings us to the third example — what do we (you and me) need to believe to be successful together?

I need to agree that you're going to do the work — I can't do the push-ups for you.

I need to agree that when you have questions, I’m going to be there to help you work through them.

That doesn't mean I’m going to hold your hand and do the work for you, but it does mean that we're all on the same team, and I may need to clarify, expand, or better explain an idea occasionally.

I need to believe that the methods I teach are going to be effective for your specific needs. That means saying NO to potential customers occasionally when it's clear we're not a good fit (which further reinforces your belief when I say that our methods are a good fit).

When I place my attention on these beliefs, I never have to think about objections. The right people self-select IN, and the people for whom I’m not a good fit self-select OUT.

And that's exactly the way it's supposed to be.

One more thing while I have your attention — I will be sending a Q&A email to you tomorrow.

I've been getting many great questions and want to make sure I've answered everything.

(If you're new to our tribe, this is an opportunity for us to mention that I don't do any last-day 'bonus stacking' or other similar nonsense. Instead, I like to say thanks for your attention by giving away something useful that's also not for sale.)

If this connects with you, Here's my invitation to you to join me on this journey.
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We’re on the home stretch.

Let's dive into your questions and our answers...

Question #1: When will enrollment open again for SIM?

I don't have an exact date in mind yet because I’m planning to create an online version early next year, and I want that work to be completed first. Sometime in the second quarter of 2021 would be a reasonable estimate.

Question #2: How many LIVE coaching calls are included in the Story Inception Program?

The program runs over 12 weeks and includes thirteen 60-minute coaching calls with me, personally. If you then sign up for the client-services upgrade, you will have bi-weekly 60-minute calls and WhatsApp support over the next 6 months.

Question #3: — My audience doesn't tolerate marketing/selling — will your course work for me?

My program focuses on helping you to attract, engage, motivate and inspire people to work with you by marketing with them, not at them. Acting like a lighthouse rather than a tugboat attracts your audience to you using the principles of story and by walking your talk.

I don't teach (or use) persuasion techniques, NLP, coercion-based sales, or hard-core direct response marketing tactics.

That's just not who I am.

Instead, I believe that giving value first and building environments that my ideal customers want to inhabit is the best way of creating a long-term business.

It is important to note that what I teach is 100% congruent with what I do. If you enjoy my emails and free content, and you believe your audience would like to be treated the same way, you'll find that SIM teaches you how to do that.

There is no daylight between what I teach and how I show up in the world.

Question #4: My budget does not include advertising for the moment.

Good. You should not spend a dime on advertising until you have positive cash flow in your business. You can start by using the simple organic process, I teach, to reach out to potential customers and validate your offer.

That takes time and energy but not money.

Question #5: I want to build my brand and scale my sales without spending a dime more on advertising than I do already. Can SIM help me do that?

I believe that when you have built an emotional bridge with your audience, you have the makings of a recognizable brand. The best way to evoke emotion online (or anywhere else) is by telling stories that resonate with your audience and that are aligned with your core values.

To deepen such a Connection takes time which is why creating a Community is so important for your Long Term Business.

The Hybrid Traffic Engine will empower your paid and organic traffic systems so that one leverages the other to maximise your revenue.

These are the foundation stones of Story Inception so the short answer to your question is Yes, SIM will help you build your brand and scale your sales.

Question #6: Now isn't a good time for me to buy your course. What should I do instead?

I have created a community called the Story Marketing Tribe. As a member, you get access to training to help you tell better stories, understand the principles of fundamental marketing, and have access to me on a weekly basis.  You can find more details on the SMT here.

In the meantime, don't feel like you have to buy anything if the time is not right for you. There's tremendous value in the free material available inside the Story Marketing Tribe.

Having said that, I have a duty to remind you that at some point you will have to invest in your business to make sure it grows the way you want it to. 

It is far better to invest in discovering a profound marketing strategy that will help you get there than invest in digital tools.

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Conventional marketing wisdom says... Make a big push for orders.

You know already I’m not going to do that. (What can I say ... I like to zig while everyone else is zagging.)

Last year I had a crazy idea and decided to write all my ideas on story-driven marketing in a book,  which is now available on Amazon (Free on Audible for the moment).  

My plan was and is to make sure you have an overview of what is involved and start to implement the principles I set out. I created this  'Digital Business Strategy' book to give you all you need to get started on the journey to building a Happy Customer Factory.

This last is bittersweet. 

There's amazing energy associated with writing close to 25,000+ words for people you care about.

It is a privilege for me to create and my audience makes that possible. 

I can't thank you all enough.

Like much of what I create, my final (free) gift to you started with the phrase, "Hey...What else can I give you that will help you on your journey..."

Here's the context…

This was a presentation I made to a Community of eComm entrepreneurs about building a brand and scaling sales without spending more on paid traffic than you are now…

You can access that recording here (1h31m).

Hope you get value from it.

Thanks again for joining me on this journey. I am profoundly grateful for your attention.

If you still have any unanswered questions about Story Inception, DM me by clicking this link. I'd be happy to answer your questions .

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