by Jackie Simmons

Reading this will cost you approximately 5 minutes of your life. What’s your time worth? Is that the “value” of this article? No, that’s just the initial investment.

Every time you introduce yourself, your company, product, or service, you’re inviting people to make a decision about your worth. Many people do not realize that face to face, voice to voice, in a message, or on a page, all communication is an invitation for the worth of what you offer to be judged.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could make it easy for people and just tell them the value you’re bringing to the party?

Unfortunately, for most of us the answer is “no”, for two reasons. The first reason is that the exploration to discover the “worth” is a necessary part of the Know, Like, & Trust journey (“KLT”). Done well, the KLT journey is a treasure hunt where you control the treasure map. A well-done treasure map has just the right amount of content to engage and leaves the real treasure hidden until the very end of the journey.

A well-done treasure map is not easy to find these days. Most are over-loaded with content-laden clues that become distractions and often lead your prospects down dead-ends and blind alleys. And as bad as that is, it’s not the main reason you can’t make it easier for others to judge the value you bring.

The second, and main reason, many of us cannot simply tell people our worth is because we simply don’t know . . .

We don’t know what our products/services are worth in the eyes of others. We don’t know because we’re often too focused on what we believe our products/services are worth. But beliefs are not facts and knowing the facts about what’s valuable to my prospects, changed my treasure map. The challenge was that my prospects were not willing to share what value they placed on my products and services until after they got to Know, Like, & Trust me.

I discovered that there’s a way to shorten the KLT journey. Simply replacing content-based clues with story-based clues made the KLT journey faster, much faster.

But not just any stories work. The journey became shorter only when my map became loaded with hero stories. Hero stories where I’m NOT the hero. This is the opposite of “expert-status marketing” and it worked to help people get to know, like, and trust me.

What I learned is that when your stories are real-life and avatar-relatable, your prospects will complete the KLT journey quickly, feeling that their time getting to know you was well-spent.

Stories help us by allowing us to “try things on”. Stories help our brains quickly decide: “Is this me or not me?” And that’s the decision everyone makes before they can see the treasure you are sharing, much less assign a value to it.

Too many times we are offering our treasure before this decision is made and people walk away from the very things that could help them the most.

So, what stories can you add to your business treasure map?

Who are your heroes? Are any of them your clients? Are any of them local? Have any of them helped you find meaning in your life or career?

My heroes are the tireless patriots who support our country’s heroes, our military veterans. Unlikely heroes, I’ll grant you. They’re almost invisible, yet their clarity of focus to their mission is magnetic and they drew me in.

They drew me in with the story of veteran joblessness and its causal link with veteran homelessness. The injustice of our military, who risked their lives so that we could have security when we lay our heads down at night, not having that same security was a story that moved me to tears and then into action.

I’d like you meet my heroes. You’ll find them at every Veterans’ Services office in the country. Because of their willingness to tell the story and their commitment to the creed of “No Money, No Mission” a.k.a.: all missions being self-funding, the “Let’s Sock It To Vet Homelessness” Movement was started. This mission offers drug-free ways to reduce chronic pain and anxiety, two of the largest barriers to Vet employment.

If you’re not sure who your heroes are, answering these questions might help.

Who’s inspired you recently? What cause are you committed to? Who inspired that commitment? Even the simple story of a mentor helping you discover a path that led you to how you currently help others, will help move people along the KLT journey.

What if your personal mission to help others became part of the treasure map you share?

Do you think you’ll feel more confident sharing what you offer if you’re also sharing the story of why it matters?

So now you know, the way to make it easy for people decide “What it’s worth”, and to see the hidden value you bring to the party is through your stories.

Did you catch it? Did you find the “hidden treasure” that makes what you offer more valuable?

The hidden value in what you offer, is YOU and what inspires you. So, tell us your stories and let us get to Know, Like and Trust you. We really do need what you offer.