Are you a business owner seeking ways in which to better connect with your audience? How can you create a meaningful relationship between your business and your clients that will last? What stories and experiences do you have that others will connect with?
In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks with LaToya Smith about why you should tell more stories.
Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.
She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.
In This Podcast
- Why storytelling is important in business and marketing
- Some mistakes people make in their marketing and how to rectify them
- How can you become better at storytelling?
Why storytelling is important in business and marketing
Storytelling in business is important because it helps you to find and connect with an audience. Stories that you have will help you to connect with your target group of clients that are within your niche.
Speak to your audience; ‘how is what I have going to help you in the future?’
Learning to speak to their pain-point, as a counselor or therapist, will help them to trust you and feel that you are on their side. By showing that you understand them, you give them a space to rest and talk it out.
With branding, there is a story in it. By placing your story or your mission in your branding, it will enable people to connect to your business on a more emotional level than simply seeing the services that you provide.
Some mistakes people make in their marketing and how to rectify them
Probably the main mistake is that people don’t tell any stories at all. It’s like strictly down-to-business and it’s just like any presentation.
By not sharing or telling any stories at all, you lose out on the chance to really draw your audience in and explain to them the meaning behind your mission. Without that human-connection in business, it can become quite dry and emotion-less.
In presentations, some people show too many slides. There are so many slides that you end up missing out on the connection and whatever message was in them gets lost in the unnecessary information.
We’re so busy sometimes trying to give people every stat and statistic, you know, and it’s like ‘just talk to me, like be relational’. Even if you wanna give me a statistic just talk it out because now I can hear you better than me reading it.
Having too much information given in such large quantities to your clients, both in marketing and in branding, gets confused in the traffic and you run the risk of losing them.
One thing about geometry that I remember is that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. So if you wanna take your audience from point A to point B, at least have it be a beautiful journey.
Keep this distance between two points succinct and sincere, by using storytelling as the medium in between. Using too many unnecessary facts creates confusion, therefore focus less on slides and more on stories to share with your audience.
Sometimes business owners are too focused on making the sale that they completely leave out the connection to their clients. By not finding a common ground between you and your audience or clients, they will not feel that you have their best interests at heart, especially as a counselor or therapist.
Not having any story may also backfire in that you are now trying to sell a service or product to the wrong audience. Go back to who your ideal audience is and work from there to build an authentic connection between you, your mission, and their needs. This simplicity and working with your ideal audience is a cornerstone of good branding.
How can you become better at storytelling?
You are more talented than you realize when it comes to storytelling. Every day, numerous times a day you tell stories to those around you, although when asked to specifically tell a story people may suddenly become shy.
There’s always been somebody listening, and how we’re being asked to be intentional about telling stories and build connections with those we don’t know. I think that’s the scary part.
There will be moments of nervousness but that is fine because it shows that you care. When you become nervous, just think back, how many stories have you told around the dinner table?
A good way to connect is to tell your ‘why’. These backstories of why and how you started, draw people into the conversations around your business and evoke emotions in them. Explaining the backstory also makes you more authentic within your branding and how you position yourself in relation to your clients.
When you create this authenticity, your audience will be more comfortable around you and will then respond, to you and to your mission and business.
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Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
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Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.
Hi there. Thanks so much for joining us today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today we have LaToya Smith with us as a guest. LaToya is a licensed professional counselor. She has provided services to youth and adults in outpatient school, in home and community settings. LaToya firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or at the place where they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome. LaToya is the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency. LCS is a private group practice located in Fort Worth, Texas. LaToya also launched a platform called Strong Witness, which is a platform designed to help people share their stories and connect with others. And just recently, she has come on board the Practice of the Practice team as an online storytelling consultant. Hi, LaToya. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Hello. Good morning here. Thank you for having me. I’m excited about it.
Yes. So am I. So, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you ended up becoming passionate about storytelling?
Sure. As you mentioned, I started a platform called Strong Witness, which is about helping people share their stories, and then connect with other people. And I became passionate about storytelling… you know what, I normally say, because I had a story locked up on the inside of me for years, and it was a painful story, something traumatic from childhood. And then, I would tell a little to people here and there, but once I released the whole story, once I just wrote it all out and I was like, oh, wow. And then I began to speak it so freely, because it was my truth. And I realized, you know what, that’s my story. I’m not going to be ashamed of it. I’m not going to let it bind me up. I’m not going to let it hinder my growth. I’m going to talk and share my story. And then I began to help other people open up. And then I realized, the more I share my story, there are people around like wow, you know, that happened to me, or, you know what, I was so encouraged by your share I want to share too. And so, you know, every April for the last, I would say, maybe three, four years, I’ve been doing a storytelling event for Sexual Assault, Child Abuse Prevention Month, and where I have other survivors come out and begin to talk and share their story. And so then people began to open up.
And then lately this year, or for the past year, I’ve been doing certain prompts on the Facebook page, it could be, you know, I’m from Fort Worth, and people share that. Or I’m making black history and they’ll talk about their business or whatever they’re doing that’s innovative now. Or even young people who graduated in 2020 and have to share their story of all the excitement they had about senior year, whittled down to drive-by graduations, there’s a whole story in that. And then what I realized when I reflect back over my years, I always loved stories because stories are what helped me connect with other people. And I was just saying the other day that when I was younger, I used to be a really, really good… well, maybe that’s exaggerating. I used to be a good athlete. [Unclear] really, really good.
We’ll take your word for it.
I’m sure there’s like some VCR footage somewhere of me doing something. So when I was younger, I was an athlete and I was extremely shy. But playing sports helped open a door for conversation and friendship and relationships. And then I realized where my sports did the talking for me and it started… you know, we could start with that story, whatever happened on the court, whatever happened on the field. And then as I got older, and I was not able to play sports anymore, because there just wasn’t that, then I had to let stories lead me. It could be some type of similarity I have with somebody, whether it be like, oh, that was funny what happened in class. Or, oh, did you see that right there? And then laugh. I had to find something that was a story because I was too shy to just initiate then, I was too shy to initiate with a ‘hello’. So I realized that stories have always been a part of all of us and I needed stories for connection. And now I’m intentional about using stories for connection.
Hmm, that’s amazing. I think we all kind of, as you said, you went through that personal experience yourself, but we all, I think, at some point in our lives, we’ll come into contact with the power of storytelling, just personally and how much of a relief it is to share your story with someone and as you say, then soon you realize that so many other people out there have had a similar experience as you. And that in itself brings so much comfort. But I’ve even noticed over the last couple of years or so there’s been this increasing trend of telling stories in business. So can you share why storytelling is important in business and marketing as well as on a personal front?
Right. I think it helps to build your audience. Stories connect you to your target audience, it connects you to, speaking of a therapist, to those in your niche. So a lot of times when we open a door and say, listen, that’s what we’re taught to do – speak to your audience. How is what I have going to help you in the future? And a lot of times, if I open a door, that’s what I thought when I opened my practice, I was gonna open the door and people were gonna come running in and be like, I want therapy. And it didn’t work that way. So after a while, what I had to do was I had to learn to speak to their pain point, and there’s a story in there. Not like, hey, I know you’re hurting, come over here. But listen, I know that you are overwhelmed, you feel like you got ten jobs in one, everybody’s pulling on you, everybody wants your attention, like, you’re this superwoman, but you know what? You can take your cape off, and you can rest here. And then begin to [unclear] oh, man, you spoke right to me. I’ve got several calls, several emails that said, you know what, I want to speak to LaToya because what you said in that ad, or what you said in that video, I felt like you were talking right to me. I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling, but you just said it. And that’s what brings your audience in, that there’s a story behind it. So sometimes it’s a spoken story, sometimes… I know branding is not just the logo, but sometimes within the logo, there’s a whole story there that we can pick up on, that we see. But also, the owner, the therapist, the representative of the company has to be able to speak that out. Because we’re really locking in with people’s emotions, that’s why they buy our product. That’s why they come and see us because there’s emotional connection.
Absolutely. I actually had two people on this podcast who both of them had a story behind their branding. The one was called Little Red Telescope, and it had to do with how he had owned a little red telescope in his childhood and how it had meant so much to him. And he decided to incorporate that into his branding. And actually, it became quite a story of his business because he realized that a telescope allows you to look at things from afar, and you kind of see things from a different perspective and he incorporated that into his counseling as well. And he said that, you know, often clients would come and kind of their first question would be, why is your practice called Little Red Telescope? And that would kind of break the ice, because then he would start with that story. And that would also help them to relate to him, that he was also just a person who had had a past, and things like that. And the other one was Blue Boat Counseling, and that was also I think her husband had also had a blue boa growing up, and he had had some really good memories. And they actually got someone to almost sketch the exact replica of this little blue boat that he had to kind of have as the icon along with the logo. So it just goes to show how powerful storytelling can be in branding. And I think it’s what a lot of brands are turning to now because people are looking for that authenticity. They don’t just want kind of this pretense, corporate message that a lot of brands used to put out. They almost want that authenticity now. So what are some mistakes that people make when it comes to marketing, or attempting to connect with their ideal client, and how can storytelling rectify this?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I’m really just stuck on the fact that you just said authenticity. I think that is huge. And I think, you know, one of the main mistakes that people make is that they don’t tell any stories at all. Because like what you just said, if a story makes me authentic, a story makes me stand out and want to connect with somebody, like in other words, you’re not just a run of the mill. You’re not just out here to take my money. You’re not just out here, just so you know, to stack your numbers up, like, you really care. And what’s behind your why and your starting point is because you care about me. You know what I mean, even if they had no idea who LaToya was, like, but the feeling I get is that you care about me. Oh, I’m signing up. You know what I mean? So that’s the authentic part.
So one of the main – probably the main – mistake is that people don’t tell any stories at all. It’s like, strictly down to business and it’s like, listen, it’s this dry presentation. It’s about listen, let’s hit it and quit it. Do you want it or not? I remember, and I was telling this story the other day, too. I was doing a presentation once, and I had everything mapped out, everything outlined and, you know, I like to use like black ink, I may get a red pen, write some notes, and I may use a pencil, and everything was to the tee. And when I went up, which should have been like a thirty, forty-five minute presentation ended up being ten minutes, because I just ran ran right through it. And it was so embarrassing. That’s why I tell people, it was the longest walk back to my seat because all I did was read off the paper and there was no story. There was no connection to the audience. But I got so nervous that I just read everything straight down. And then my mistake was I never connected to who my audience was, but I wanted them to believe every word that I had to say. And I wanted them to stay locked in. And I wanted them to believe that I cared, but I had nothing behind it to bring any type of connection. So the number one mistake is that there’s no stories to bring any connections. And they don’t know that, even if I think my outline was most authentic thing there was nothing there to connect it.
Another mistake I think people make is that, especially in presentations, there’s so much… too many slides and not enough story. I think we’ve all been to those presentations where they had the, what is it called? The PowerPoint packet. And there’s like a hundred and twenty-five slides in the packet, like, front back, you know, nine to a page and it’s just like, okay.
We’re gonna be here a while.
Mm hmm. There’s so many slides that you miss what people are saying. So I think it’s another issue, is that we’re so busy sometimes trying to give people every statistic, you know, and it’s like, yo, just talk to me, like, be relational. Even if you want to give me a statistic, like, just talk it out because now I can hear you better than me reading it. Or just send me the article and give me like, the CEU, like, send me the credit. You know what I mean? Like, save my time and send me the article, and I’ll read it. But I think too many slides, they kind of jump… kinda like in traffic. You can ride a smooth road sometimes. That’s what story is, right? So one thing I remember from geometry – I was really bad at math in high school, like horribly bad – but one thing about geometry that I remember is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
So now, if I got to go, if you want to take your audience from point A to point B, at least have it be a beautiful journey. Like, it can be, like, we can go a country road and you can paint this elaborate picture where I love countryside roads. But sometimes we take people on, we wander and it’s nothing but tumble wood, because we’re just going on and on about useless facts. Or sometimes we cram so much stuff in there, it’s like we’re stuck in traffic and we’re going absolutely nowhere. So if you want to take your audience from point A to point B, at least have it be the most beautiful, Wizard of Oz, Yellow Brick Road type trip, and that we’re just skipping along the way together. That’s the beauty of story is [unclear]. So less slides, more stories, definitely tell stories.
And then another big point I see people make is that they don’t make any connection at all, because they’re so… they just want to make the sale. They just want to push the agenda. Maybe they talk so much about themselves that there’s just absolutely no… they found no common ground whatsoever between themselves and the audience. And sometimes that’s because you’re talking to the wrong audience. You know, I had to learn when it comes to counseling from my practice, who my target audience is. And then when I get in front of an audience that’s not mine, yeah, we can all talk about mental health but sometimes you got to realize that it’s hard to make a connection because you’re not even… you’re telling stories to… or you’re telling the wrong stories, or you’re talking to the wrong audience altogether.
That’s such a good point. Because I think we kind of always go back to who is your ideal client? And that’s kind of the foundation of branding, because obviously that’s the point of your brand, is you’re there to serve your ideal client. So it’s so important to know who your ideal client is. And that’s such a good point that you could be talking to the wrong person and it could actually be your audience that you need to change. But also, just the way that you illustrated those three points right there, incorporating stories was exhibit A, was so incredible because you keep people engaged with just the pictures that you paint while you’re kind of speaking and it’s definitely not a talent that a lot of us possess, so that’s very cool.
So on that note, how can our listeners become better at storytelling?
Mm hmm. I think, like, what you just said – it’s not a talent that a lot of us have. But I think that we are more talented than we think that we are. Because if we could take a poll… you ever read those, like, things that say, like, how many times you touch your face during the day, or how many times you look at your cell phone? And then you’re like, when we hear that number, we’re like, what? That’s ridiculous. But then when you think about it, it makes so much sense because we look at our phones so much, or we touch our face so much throughout the day. And I think that people, we’re more talented than we think. We probably tell so many stories during the day. From hey, how you doing? Oh, man, let me tell you, right? Or, you know, last night I went to… I mean, it’s all stories. Or every time we sit down and grab coffee with a… well, it depends where we’re at. I know we’re in a pandemic, but when we used to. [Unclear] we used to drive to have coffee.
Yeah. Okay, so let’s connect there over these virtual zoom meetings, how many times have we told stories? Whether it be like starting off a work meeting, whether it be connecting with a friend, family reunions, dinners, with everything we’ve always told stories. I think we have it on the inside of us. It’s just that when somebody says, tell one, we’re like, wait, what? Who’s gonna listen to me? We’ve all been listening to you. There’s always been somebody listening. And now we’re being intentional about telling stories to build connection with those we don’t know. I think that’s the scary part. So [unclear] helping people see okay, ways to mask it and ways to connect with realizing that, yes, sometimes there’s going to be that little bit of a fear there. Or sometimes when you feel like you’re put on the spot like a deer in headlights feeling, but you’ve been here before.
That’s what they say, like basketball players, a lot of times when they’re at the free throw – they can make a three point, they can jump up and dunk, but when they’re at the free throw line and everybody’s looking at them, they’re like shooting bricks. But the way that sports therapists help them get through it, it’s like, listen, you’ve been in this situation before, you know. So it’s no big deal. Relax. You’ve been here, go through the same routine, two dribbles, bring the ball up, pause, then shoot. And that’s the same thing with stories, listen, you been here before. How many stories you told the dinner table? How many stories have you ran home – I’m the youngest of five, so I would always run home and try to tell a story from the day and nobody cared. So I’ve been trying to tell stories since I was like, in elementary school, and they’ve been shooing me away. See now it’s all coming back to me. I’ve been a storyteller. Nobody listened to me when I was young. So when you run home.. we’ve always told them, and now it’s the idea of now you’re telling them to people you don’t know, because you want them to listen to be connected to your product or what you have to offer.
So another big way to connect with people would be able to tell your backstory, or tell your why. Like you just said, we talked about the telescope or the blue boat, there’s a backstory to that. And when you tell me your why, now I’m more drawn in. I’m intrigued, like, I’m actually leaning into the conversation. And now you evoke some type of emotion in me, and I’m like, ooh, tell me more, or sign me up. Because now I know the why behind it. And I know it goes back to that word. Now I know how authentic you really… you really do care about me. Go ahead, sorry.
No, I was just gonna say I think that’s a really awesome tip. And it’s a good place to start because it’s also a place where our audience will feel comfortable; they’ll feel comfortable talking about their brand because that’s something that they obviously know a lot about. So starting with that point. Like I said, with the people that I interviewed previously, they said that kind of broke the ice for them with the client, because like I said, it was telling a story, and it’s something that they feel confident about. And then they kind of feel more comfortable to engage further.
Oh, yeah. I think definitely. There’s a quote that Steve Jobs used to ask, he said, what makes your heart sing? And if you can communicate that to somebody else, man, like now, it’s like you’re human, and you’re not like some superhero either. And now we can sit down and now we can chat because I know the reason why. I think it’s beautiful. That’s why I say stories build connections.
Absolutely. So what are some examples of how you’ve been successful through storytelling?
Hmm. I think just that because what I was telling before, like, I used to be so shy, and then I didn’t know how to communicate. But then when I can start with a story, now I can engage people. Stories help, like I mentioned a minute ago, like that fear and deer in headlights, stories make me comfortable. So I can get in somewhere now when I do a presentation, or now when I… even when I’m at church and I have to do a Bible study or I have to bring the word on a certain night. I start with a story, but I’m realizing (1) it’s going to draw them in, (2) it’s going to make me comfortable. I think a little bit of nervousness is normal. If we walk into every situation without fear or nervousness, then it’s almost like we have this arrogance and we don’t respect where we’re going. So sometimes in respecting the space, there is a little bit of good nervous feeling. And so when I tell stories, it has helped me get me comfortable, and then get me connected. Now I’m relaxed, because I told a little bit of a story, I smile, they smile, we’re engaged. Now let’s go. So it helps to relax me a lot. So that’s why I enjoy them. I enjoy hearing them and I enjoy telling my own.
That’s awesome. So, obviously, this is a marketing podcast, but we do focus a lot on branding and design, so I asked you to share what are some of your points on branding? Obviously, in line with storytelling, and with your passion about storytelling.
I think the branding itself, like the story, the story is the branding or that is you and that’s where it… kind of like when you said, the telescope, the boat, even when I’m looking at my stuff, or this tree, or who I am, I want people to know… or my brand, period. When I share a story, that is my brand, all in itself, right? Or better yet, when you see me, let me elaborate that for you so you can understand more of who I am through the power of storytelling. I want to say, does that make sense or …?
Absolutely it makes sense.
That’s great. I think, yeah, I think for those listening, it’s kind of about just becoming more comfortable in almost turning your brand into a story. If it’s not as obvious as the examples we gave, like Little Red Telescope or Blue Boat Counseling, figure out ways to kind of turn your brand into a story or, like you said, your why. So why did you start your brand in the first place? And really use that in your marketing and on your website. I think counseling in general is such a personal service so the more that you’re able to connect with your clients on a personal storytelling level, the better. And as you said, I mean, you had people calling you up saying they wanted to meet with you because they felt like you were talking directly to them. That’s branding at its most powerful. So definitely, and thanks so much for all your tips today. And I know that the audience is going to walk away with a lot of value. I believe you’ve got a giveaway for us as well. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, it’s a webinar, it’s a free webinar, the Take Back Your Voice ecourse. And I did that because I wanted people to understand the power of using their own voice which again, is story, and telling your narrative, and not let anybody else tell your story for you. Too many times we shrink back in the moment. I had somebody tell me that yesterday, well, I’m used to just shrinking down and letting people run over me and say what they got to say. Like, no, you begin to use your voice, you have a story to tell, you have power in your words. So speak up, take your voice back, and don’t let anybody else tell it for you. And that’s what the ecourse is about. Because we’re in a world where news travels so fast. You can go to your feed right now and then once you see you try to find it again, you can’t see it for hours, because there’s so much news coming out. Like, no, I want my voice to be heard at the top, so I’m going to start speaking. So that’s what that ecourse is about.
Awesome. And for those of you who are maybe on the go at the moment, we’ll have a link to that in the show notes so you can access that that way. And LaToya, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to contact you?
Sure, I’m on social media. Facebook, it’s LCS Counseling and Consulting. And Instagram it’s @LCS_Counseling. I’m located in Fort Worth, Texas, and my email you do [email protected] and that’ll get to me as well.
Awesome. We’ll have all of that in the show notes as well. And LaToya, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
I would want them to tell more stories. I would want them to use stories in their branding, use stories in their presentation and their social media presentation because those stories are going to connect you to your audience. So stop spitting facts at them, and stop spitting, like, I know you’re sad, but talk, speak directly to their emotions and appeal to their heart by using stories.
Awesome. Thanks so much again. And we look forward to having this go live and getting people more aware of storytelling. And I know that they’ll be using it more in their brands moving forward. So thanks so much for being on the podcast.
Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print flyer designed, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
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