Win Friends and Deals by Telling Your Story With Kat Maningo From The Empathy Firm

The statistics speak for themselves. We are 22 times more likely to remember a message when it’s wrapped in a story*. If you want to stand out, grab attention, and align others to your cause, tell a story.

People are drawn to stories because stories are mirrors we meet ourselves in; we root for underdogs because we all started somewhere before our rise to triumph.

In an era where the internet has democratized the ability to share voices, products, and messages, how does a business stand out among millions of others with similar solutions?

Trust and likeability associated with your business. Icon and titan of sales Zig Ziglar said it best:

“If people like you they will listen to you but if they trust you they will buy from you.”

Stories grab attention—no small feat in this noisy, saturated world—and real stories, which resonate with people’s hopes and visions, inspire trust.

We sat down with Kat Maningo of The Empathy Firm to get her perspective on the value of storytelling in creating a brand that thrives today.

Storytelling as a marketing tool seems to be all the rage these days; why do you think that is?

There’s so much to take in these days. Consumers are oversaturated, skeptical, and thirsty for something that feels real and honest. Businesses can no longer solely depend on the fact that they created a solution in order to attract customers; people need even more reason to connect, to buy in.

It’s no coincidence that an app like Clubhouse skyrocketed in a time of collective isolation and distance: it’s a platform built on listening and community.

Humans crave connection; we are hard-wired to seek it out for survival and meaning-making. 

I often think of scholar Margaret Mead’s theory that the first sign of human civilization was a healed femur (thighbone). In the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.

A healed femur is evidence that someone bound up another’s wound, carried them to safety and tended them through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts.

Moving first in sharing your narrative, your human truth, is where trust starts. 

Frame your solution in a story that arouses trust and inspires action, and you have the foundation of a brand that can scale.

What does storytelling have to do with sales?

A sale is made only when someone trusts that a desirable result will be produced from the transaction. An ethical, leadership-oriented way of selling is one that tells a story that meets your potential customer where they are and tells the story of their possible ascent into a more heroic version of themselves.

What is more compelling: “I have an automated prospecting system for coaches,” or “How a solopreneur went from $5K/MRR to dream $100K+ months in 90 days using an automated prospecting system”?

Do you think having a personal brand is important for business leaders?

Your personal brand teaches others how to see you. It tells the story of you, your accomplishments, and what you inspire in others even when you’re not present. 

I think a strong personal brand is a coefficient that makes all other parts of a business easier; it reduces the amount of skepticism a customer may have about whether or not they can trust you to help them. Your brand is a legacy and credibility asset, a “serendipity vehicle,” as David Parnell coined, that creates higher probabilities of luck in attracting talent, deals, and allies. 

Each of us right now plays a role in relationship to others: seller to buyer, leader to team, partner to partner. Each of us arrived in these roles through one party trusting the other and deciding to share time and resources.

The more credibility and trust-building assets you put out into the world, the easier everything becomes to get to where you want to go.

What about your story?

My story is really about grit, never giving up, and never compromising in my mission to uplift others. I’ve lost big three times in my life, and in a million smaller ways on the journey. I lost my first career path, two almost-marriages, and the first business I ever co-founded and grew. I’ve survived domestic violence, racist assault, and an incredibly rare form of cancer. 

The amount of times I wanted to give up and almost did is very much in proportion to how difficult my life has felt at times, but every time I came close to giving up – I remembered how much it matters to fight for goodness in the world, and every time I have taken up the sword of that fight, I have found champions alongside me to help — whether mentors, friends, clients, or business partners — and it always began with me sharing my human truth, a vision of what I want to create and where I want to go. 

What would you say to people who are afraid to share their story?

On the other side of fear is everything you want. People only project insecurities for personal reasons, whether they are intimidated, want you to continue to make them look good while you play small, or because of their own personal aversions to risk or failure. Start by asking yourself — Why NOT me?

No one wins alone. Not Olympians with gold medals or billion-dollar CEOs. It wasn’t until I leaned into the discomfort of sharing bravely that I attracted the connections that lifted me into the most challenging and fascinating chapter of my life. People can’t be drawn to you if you don’t tell them what you’re about. I amplify my work with The Empathy Firm through my stories, and now I challenge you to do the same with your business.

*Link to Study Mentioned Above.

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