Connect with Customers by Telling Stories … About THEM

Last week I watched a man do amazing trick: he took the most boring subject in the world and made it fascinating.

I’m in a BNI (Business Network International) group. If you’re not familiar, it’s 25 to 40 or so business people getting together each week to pass referrals to each other. Members have opportunities to educate each other and visitors about their business.

Last week it was David George’s turn to give his presentation. David is a commercial insurance agent.

Insurance = RIVETING subject matter, right? Of course not. And nobody understands that better than David.

He could have done what most people do. There would have been nothing wrong with talking about himself. After all, this is self-promotion time. The idea is to encourage the other members to refer business to you.

He could have said:

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I know my stuff. I’ll make sure you’re covered without selling you too much, and when disaster strikes I’ll be ready to help you file your claim. Basically, I’m awesome.”

And that would have been perfectly fine.

He didn’t do that, though.

Instead, David spent most of his time telling us a story that wasn’t really about him. It was about a client whose restaurant was destroyed when a car crashed into it.

He told us about what he saw when he arrived after getting the call. The dining room was in shambles. The restoration company he’d called was on the scene, taking pictures of the debris.

He told us about the employee who was seriously injured as she was preparing food; about how she is now permanently disabled; about the GoFundMe page the owners set up to help cover her medical expenses.

Why did he tell us all this? First, because he’s a good guy who genuinely cares about his clients. Second, he understands that he could talk to us for hours about how great an insurance agent he is and it wouldn’t make a shred of difference in our level of interest.

What we relate to is not what he does, but why he does it: to safeguard his clients, people just like us.

David told us a story about someone else from his point of view and in doing so told us more about himself than he otherwise could have. Maybe more than he realized. He demonstrated his ability to care. He gave us the eyewitness account of someone who was ready and willing to be there.

What kind of stories are you telling?

Are you just gathering up testimonials from clients to promote yourself, or are you demonstrating the strength of the relationship you have with your clients by telling stories about them?

Are you just soliciting reviews about your products, or are you giving positive reviews of the people who use your products?

Are you just boasting about the quality of your services, or are you delighting in the positive effect those services have on your customers?

In other words, your marketing can either be self-focused or customer-focused. It’s the difference between advertising and relationship-building; between bragging and serving; between arrogance and humility.

Which do you think your customers are more likely to respond to?

The Greiner’s GoFundMe page to support Tina Scruggs is at