How to Use Your Guilt Story to Propel Your Business

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I love stories. I love that Mister Rogers used to say, “It’s hard not to like someone once you know their story.”

At the end of this post I have a very specific type of story I’m hoping you will share in the comments.

Mister RogersStories are how we share emotions, connect, explain, visualize, learn, grow and bring a dose of reality to the often plastic art of marketing.

Stories are also how we manipulate. We all have our own narratives that keep us from doing, being and achieving. Stories create guilt as certain as they create joy.

And yet, stories are the thing of life that keeps it real – that keeps it human. Who among us doesn’t enjoy a great story no matter if it’s a story of personal tragedy or personal triumph?

One of the most important ways we as marketers can connect with our clients is to tell, collect and build stories with, in and around the community that is our business.

Today, I wonder if you help me collect and build what I think is one of the most important stories – the story of guilt.

Now that may not seem like an altogether positive story angle, but so much of what we do and don’t do is driven by guilt. It’s the emotion at the center of many of the organized religions in the world and it’s a deeply rooted driver of a great deal of human behavior.

Understanding the impact of our own guilt story is key to building a business and key to understanding what drives and motivates our clients.

Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever considered how it might hold you back? Have you ever wondered what holds your clients back, what really motivates them to buy, why they actually don’t do what they know they should do?

I contend the answer is their guilt story and it’s the single greatest hurdle and opportunity on the road to success.

So, let me (over) share part of my narrative because I’m going to ask you to do the same if you so choose.

I used to feel tremendous guilt that I did not finish my college degree almost thirty years ago because I wasn’t sure why I wanted one other than I was told that’s what you do. I thought I started my own business in because I didn’t think I could actually get a very good job. I’ve built my business through little more than hustle but I still feel guilty that it’s not three times bigger than it is, that my books don’t sell as well as some other author, or that my clients don’t always get the results I know they can.

So, that’s a big part of my guilt narrative, but here’s the part that makes understanding and acknowledging that narrative work.

I’m also driven by the fact that I get to go to work every day helping clients address the guilt they feel. I know that they feel guilt that they don’t understand marketing, that all the changes online make them feel out of control, that they feel as though they don’t have any idea how to grow their business, that this business they started to get more life is actually sucking the life out of them.

Now, these feelings are part of their story and they may or may not actually be true, but going to work on that has become a bit part of my story.

That knowledge is what I use as a higher purpose for what I do, that knowledge is what allows me to kick guilt to the curb, and the pursuit of service to this higher purpose is now how I choose to measure success.

So, do you understand your own guilt story? Do you understand the guilt story your clients are using?

I believe that’s the key to using stories to keep it real. You must understand the stories you tell yourself that hold you back and those that you tell yourself and others that propel you forward. From that point your job is to transfer this art to your staff, you clients and your community.

So, if you’ve come this far, I’ve got a question – “What’s your guilt narrative sound like and how do you help your clients understand and face theirs?” Care to share?


Your Guilt Narrative, Your Marketing Story

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