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APRILLE FRANKS: “When I was in corporate, it was like a rule, right: leave yourself at home, don't say anything, don't share this, leave your personal stuff at home, and flip the switch and become this worker. And I just don't subscribe to that. I think that as social media has shown, we have been longing for connection. We have been longing for community. People are looking for where they belong. They're looking for their people. They're looking for people that believe in the same things that they believe in. And stories help you attract those people. And I think it's important in everything that we do.”
“Otherwise, you know, and I like to use this example, too, Amy. Like, there's the Motel 6 and there's Ritz–Carlton. Ritz–Carlton has a story. Motel 6 has a story. They're both hotels. They both can rent you a room for the night. But the stories and who they're attracting is just different. And neither of them are right or wrong. They just are. And they both have their own target audiences, and they're both making lots of money. But the stories, the brand stories of what they're wanting to share is going to attract a specific individual that resonates with that specific brand.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small–but–mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step–by–step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Can I let you in on a little secret? When I use personal stories in any content in my business, whether it's a social–media post, a podcast, email, or anything else, my audience loves it. They respond with their own stories and how they can relate. Our email-open rates increase, and the response is clearly positive. Why is this? you ask. Because we're human beings, and we evolved from storytelling. Nothing pulls us in or connects us more than sharing stories of struggles and triumphs and perseverance. Especially in a pandemic, in a world where we are more connected to the Internet than one another, stories bring us back to the truth of our existence. And while I can tell you the importance of using stories in your business to connect with your audience and send you on your way, chances are you'd be left wondering, what stories, how to share them, how to tie them back into your content, and, more importantly, into your purpose.
To help me answer these questions, I've invited an expert to join me, and we are going to share how to come up with bankable brand stories. Her name is Aprille Franks. Aprille is a master community builder and launch strategist, whose mission is to close the gender gap by helping women make more money through entrepreneurship. She works exclusively with women who want to build a brand that supports their most–ambitious lifestyle goals. By coaching and training her clients, they are able to galvanize communities that align with their energy, experiences, and expertise. She's going to walk us through a step–by–step process for identifying your personal stories so that you can use them to connect on a deeper level with your audience. Also, stick around until the end, and she'll share a hot tip for how you can take action with this episode right away.
Let’s get to it.
Well, hey, there, friend. Thanks so much for coming on the show. I'm so happy to have you here.
APRILLE: I'm so excited to be here.
AMY: It's going to be a lot of fun, for sure.
So, can you share a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are as an entrepreneur?
APRILLE: Yeah, absolutely. So, as a community–building strategist, which I love building communities online, I really started like most people, right? Just had an idea, had a dream, wanted to do more, wasn't fulfilled with what I was doing in my previous career in real estate, and I was looking to connect with people on a deeper level. And I stumbled upon social media, and I have been able to leverage that through, of course, lots of twists and turns and rabbit holes and shiny objects, you know, getting onto that clarity path, and just continuing to say yes along the way. Yes to doing bigger things, yes to collaborating, yes to taking more training and really honing in on my skills and just yes, yes to everything and yes to more.
AMY: Now, I talked about you and what you're all about in the intro, but I would love people to hear from your own words, what do you do in your business?
APRILLE: Yeah. So, I really help women build and monetize online communities, in short. And the biggest component of that is really without sacrificing who you are, your happiness, and how to really leverage this business online and make it work for you so that you're not spinning your wheels constantly not making money and not making impact. So I'm really to help mitigate the time that it takes to reach your revenue goals and the impact goals you're looking to reach.
Okay. So, we're talking about stories today—
AMY: —and I want you to talk a little bit about, why do you feel stories are so important to use in all areas of your content?
APRILLE: I think, you know what, Amy. I think stories are important because it's how we resonate. It's how we connect. I think before, when I was in corporate, it was like a rule, right: leave yourself at home, don't say anything, don't share this, leave your personal stuff at home, and flip the switch and become this worker. And I just don't subscribe to that. I think that as social media has shown, we have been longing for connection. We have been longing for community. People are looking for where they belong. They're looking for their people. They're looking for people that believe in the same things that they believe in. And stories help you attract those people. And I think it's important in everything that we do.
Otherwise, you know, and I like to use this example, too, Amy. Like, there's the Motel 6 and there's Ritz–Carlton. Ritz–Carlton has a story. Motel 6 has a story. They're both hotels. They both can rent you a room for the night. But the stories and who they're attracting is just different. And neither of them are right or wrong. They just are. And they both have their own target audiences, and they're both making lots of money. But the stories, the brand stories of what they're wanting to share is going to attract a specific individual that resonates with that specific brand.
AMY: Such a good example. So very true.
Now, you know I love a good process, so let's talk about your process for identifying what you call bankable brand stories. And these bankable brand stories, they allow listeners, or our listeners here, to kind of walk through their next steps for identifying their own stories. Because I think that's the hardest part: actually thinking about stories from your life.
And I'll tell you real quickly, I have somebody on my team, Kylie, and she helps me put together my solo episodes. And she'll say, “Okay, Amy. Can you think of a story that when you were young, you did this or that?” And I sometimes freeze. Like, I know this stuff happened to me, but I can't remember my stories. And so you have a process for kind of bringing it out of people. Can you walk us through that process?
APRILLE: Yeah. I would love to. So, building bankable stories, so I really look at it in five components. And the first thing is really just understanding why storytelling impacts your brand relevance, and it builds that deeper affinity, and it’s because, like I said earlier, people are looking for belonging. And I want people that are listening, your audience that's listening, to really think about the brands that you're connected to. Think about the fact that when you go to the store, you pick up one item over another item, or you shop at this online merchant over another merchant. And really ask yourself why. And it's probably because we bought in, and that's really where you want to be. You want to be at the place where people are buying in because they get it and because they believe that you get them. And that's all people want is for someone to understand where they are and what they need. So that's the first thing is just really having that foundational understanding that this is really relevant to you connecting and building a bigger audience.
The second thing, Amy, I love to share with people is how to go from zero to sixty, and how do you discover what those stories are. So I have this exercise with my clients that I do, where I have them identify instances. So if you're listening right now, grab a sheet of paper, and on it, I want you to write zero to ten, eleven to twenty-one. And go each year, each ten years, so each decade. I want you to write that out, all the way to your current age. I’m forty-four, so I’d have several sets of this, right?
So let's say from zero to ten. I want you to write down, what are your top three most–compelling instances that you remember? I'm not asking for stories. I'm asking for instances. So, for example, for me, one may have been when my grandfather died when I was five years old. I distinctly remember everything surrounding that specific instance. Now, what I don't want you to do is I don't want you to obsess about the story or how it's relevant to the brand or the business, because we'll get there. But the first thing really is just outlining each decade of your life, and then for each decade, pick the three most–compelling instances. And they don't have to be traumatic; they just need to be compelling. That's the first thing. Well, that's number two.
APRILLE: The third thing is now that you have identified those three instances per decade, now I want you to flow. And so I want you to identify for each instance, what was the feeling associated with that instance, what was the lesson you learned, and then what was the outcome? So each one of those instances has feelings, lessons, outcomes associated with them. And you're going to utilize those later, because those are the things that are going to connect with your audience. But the first thing is get out of your head, into your heart, identify what they are, and then ask yourself, how did that instance make me feel, what did I learn from it, and what was the outcome as a result?
Number four. Now you want to look at all of the instances, right, and so you may have, I don't know, fifteen, eighteen, depending on how old you are. So you want to look at all of the instances, and you want to extract the top five ones that you believe are most relevant to your audience.
So, for example, you may have feelings that may have come up that maybe made you feel insecure or overwhelmed or humiliated or happy or triumphant. And you want to think about these things because are those feelings that your audience is currently having, are they feeling inadequate or in a place of despair or dreamy? And so you want to be able to tie those specific feelings to your avatar, and that's how you really begin to connect, because now you're not just thinking about you and the fact that you have the best product or service. Now you're thinking about them and how they feel and where they are and what they need. And so in number four, you're going to extract, and you're going to say, “Okay, these are the top five of these instances,” and then you're going to write out the story that goes with each instance.
Let me give you an example. So for me—
AMY: I was hoping. I was going to say, can you tell us one of your stories?
APRILLE: So for me, for example, when I was thirty—I think thirty–two, I was fired from my job. And I was great at my job, and as a matter of fact, I was one of the second top–producing general managers of this specific company. Just the week before, all sorts of accolades. And then one day my boss comes in, she's welling up at the eyes, and she says that I'm fired. Now, the instance was that I got fired. The story is what I just shared with you. The feeling I felt was devastation. I felt like a failure. I felt humiliated. The lesson I learned was to not put all my eggs in one basket and to follow my heart. The outcome was I'm sitting here on the Amy Porterfield podcast.
And so when I'm talking to my audience and I am wanting to connect with them, I'm thinking about those specific feelings, those lessons, and those outcomes that are going to be relevant for them, because what people need to see more than anything, more than you're the best coach or the best whatever it is that your title is and that your business card says, is that you get them and that you understand where they are and that you have a tool to help them get to their next level. That's number four.
AMY: Okay. I love this process. And while you were going through it, like the zero to sixty, the compelling discoveries or the instances, as you say, I love that because that's what Kylie's been doing for me and saying, like, “Think about when you were ten,” and “Did you have this story about when you married Hobie. What was life like then? What was it like in the beginning?”
AMY: It's really helpful to have these prompts. And so I look at this as a prompt, like your age group, and like you said, what are these instances that happened to you? And then from there, the feelings, lessons, and outcomes. I really do love that.
When people do this, where do you think they get stuck? Like, when you work with your students on this process, what kind of comes up for them that my students might think, “Oh, okay. I want to be aware of this”?
APRILLE: You know, one of the things that comes up is they get in their head about, but how is this relevant for business?
AMY: Yes! Yes. This is so good. Yeah, okay.
APRILLE: They’re like, but how is this relevant? I sell workout equipment, or I'm a business coach or a life coach or whatever. So they get in their head about that, and they forget that the things that make you who you are, we discount them, but other people need them. Most people totally think what they've been through in their life is irrelevant and no one's going to care about that. But the truth is someone is living that same reality that you've already overcome, right?
APRILLE: And your story, the way that you're sharing and crafting your content to connect with them is the thing that they needed to take that next step, to opt in to your list, to listen to your podcast, to sign up for your program, to refer you to someone that they know or love. And so it means more than just arbitrarily sharing things because you really need a friend to really being strategic and saying you care enough to really think this through. And then you know you have an index of stories that you know are going to relate to the people that need it the most.
AMY: You know, one story I was thinking about when you were going through the process was my story of getting out of a partnership that I was in a few years ago. And when I think about that story, part of me, just like what you just said, part of me thinks most of my students won't be in a partnership. Most of them won't have that same situation I have, so is it really a story I should be telling because it's not really their reality. However, when you talk about feelings, lessons, and outcomes, my feeling was that I was scared and fearful and couldn't make a decision. The lesson was that I realized I had lost my voice in the whole thing. And the outcome was I found my voice. I found myself once I had the courage to get out of the partnership. My students definitely struggle with finding their voice and standing up for what they believe and being vocal. So when you get into the feelings, lessons, and outcomes, I think that's where that total connection of your story connecting with your audience. Would you agree?
APRILLE: Yes. I love it. And I love how you're able to—and I think you are, first of all, we all know you're brilliant, but don't you love it that you can just immediately, it just comes up? It's like I totally get it.
APRILLE: And for me, it helps me so much in identifying, like, what do they need to know next? What does my audience, what does my community really need to know from me next? And it really just starts with them, because all of this has to do with feelings, because you're right. They may not be in that specific scenario, but they can relate to the feeling. And it's just like having compassion, right? It's like, wow, that specifically didn't happen to me, but I feel that.
AMY: Yes. And that’s what you want. You want them to feel it.
AMY: So, I would imagine that you'll want to go through this more than once to continue to pull out stories. How often should someone sit down with this process?
APRILLE: Yeah. I really think, as things progress, right, and I think as people get more comfortable with those initial instances, because there are so many, you know, there are so many, and I think every time you're being stretched and your community is commanding and wanting more from you, you should sit down and say, “Okay, let me think this through.”
So I said start out with three, but you may have ten, you know? The reason why I break it up into decades is that we live so much life, Amy, people forget all the things that they've learned. They forget all the things that matter. They forget you ran into this person and they enlightened you in some way, or you experienced this thing that you overcame and you kind of suppressed the memory of it. It's so easy to forget. So once they can pull out those three, that's just an example, they can go as deep as they want to go with it.
AMY: For sure.
Now, where do you find yourself telling the most stories? Is it on social media? Is it through a sales process you use? I know you use your stories everywhere, but where are some of the easiest places that you literally are—people are hearing you tell your story?
APRILLE: Drum roll. Email.
AMY: Oh, yeah. I wasn't actually sure what you're going to say. So you tell most of your stories through email.
APRILLE: I do. I do. But socially as well, of course.
APRILLE: Socially as well. And so when you have this and you know, for example, you're going to tie—and I'm going to get into number five, which is how do you connect that content with those stories—once I'm really kind of in the flow and I know what it is that I want to share, and for example, if I have a specific launch or something I'm working on or a product that I know is going to help my community, then I'm asking myself in that process, which story goes with this launch process? What are the stories that I'm telling? What are the things that I really want to drive home and let my community know that I get where you are and this is a solution to that?
And so I spend that time really cross promotionally with sharing that in the email, socially, even on video. I may even, you know, retell that story, reshow the story in a video, even in a series just in an Instagram Story. It could be that quick. And them having that visual relatability, I think, is important because someone may have read it and it resonates, and someone may see you say it, and that may resonate even more deeply, that causes them to take action for themselves.
AMY: I like this idea of thinking about connecting your stories with your content, because I never thought about it this way, but I teach people how to do webinars. And one thing I could teach in that process is to say, “Okay, choose two stories that you are going to be telling on this webinar. You're going to weave it into your content, weave it into some of the how–to stuff you're going to teach in the step by step or whatever it is. But where are you going to tell your stories, and what are those two stories?” Being intentional, I think, helps immensely, especially when you're not comfortable telling stories yet. Sometimes you just got to really plan it out.
APRILLE: Yeah, I agree. I think planning—I mean, absolutely. I mean, that's exactly what we do. When we're sitting down and we're planning, that's exactly what happens. What story are we telling? What—because the story equals connectivity. So you can replace that “What story are we telling?” with “What are we using to connect?” And what we're using to connect is a story typically, because the content is the content. That's a given. People are already connected to you for the content. The truth is there's a ton of people that teach what I teach. There’s people that teach what you teach. There's people that teach what we all teach.
APRILLE: But what connects them is the stories. And, you know, one of the things that I could just say, I'm not even a big animal lover, but do you know that I follow your stories about Scout?
AMY: I love that so much. Especially if you’re not a huge animal lover, but you still follow the stories.
APRILLE: I mean, well, the dog is so cute. Like, how could you not? And it's all—but you understand what I'm saying?
APRILLE: But it’s like those little things that people will be like, oh, that caught their attention. And I think we just take for granted how human we all really are.
AMY: Yes. I love that. We take for granted how human we all really are. And those little small touches that we all add to our brand, our stories make a big difference. So I love that.
Okay. I have a question for you kind of along these lines.
AMY: When I am talking to my students about stories, I talk about this importance—and you might totally disagree, so I want to get into this—I talk about sharing your scars versus your wounds. So in other words, don't teach or try to share your story of something that you're literally going through right now, that you're in it. You haven't really figured anything out yet. It's a gross open wound. It's oozy, and it's real right then. I always say wait until it becomes a scar so you can share your lessons learned and your outcomes. So share when you're on the other side. So share your scars versus your wounds. What do you think about that? And for example, I didn't share, going through my partnership, the agony of that while I was in it. But when I came out the other side and was clearheaded to understand what went right, what went wrong, how I felt about it, then I have shared about it a lot. So what are your thoughts about that?
APRILLE: Well, I love that, first of all, and I'm a believer in that very same philosophy. And I can give an example, truly.
APRILLE: I was in the middle of divorcing my ex-husband, and there were lots of things I was experiencing at that time. Of course, the business was thriving, and we were growing, and our community was getting bigger, and we were making more money, and all of that. And I was still traumatized for two years. I was still going through a very emotional period as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, during that time. And I am at the same philosophy as you, Amy, in regard to my audience is looking to me for leadership. It is not my job to bleed my emotional experiences on them if it's not from a place of empowerment. And I think that people often utilize or they get confused with being authentic with sharing all of their “business.”
APRILLE: And that's just not it. You have to remember that you are a leader. And I believe it diminishes your authority when you are irresponsible with things that you really should seek other consult for—like your friends, your spiritual adviser, a therapist—instead of spewing and sharing things on social media because you really need a friend.
AMY: Oh, I never thought of it that way. And I totally agree with you. And I really do believe that sometimes I see people sharing while they're in the messy middle, and you’re right. I think they’re looking for friendship, for therapy, for support. But when you do want to show up as a leader in your industry and a go–to guide for your students—you made such a great point—that doesn't mean you can't be vulnerable. When I talk about ending my partnership, I talk about all the fears that came up, the fact that I thought I was going to lose my business. I talk about it all. But when you talk about all of that from a place of “this is what I went through,” then, like you said, there's empowerment in there. There’s strength in that story, because you're encouraging your students to also get to the other side with what they're going through.
APRILLE: Yes, absolutely. And I think, too, just from a leadership perspective, I think that’s just what good leaders do. And I think sometimes, like in this space that we're all in, I think leadership is left off the table because everyone wants to be an influencer and a coach and a this or a that, and you forget that what you're really doing at the crux of it all is you're leading people to a place, and they're looking to you for guidance. And I think it's important that we take that, I think, a little more seriously. Even in the freedom with entrepreneurship and everyone wants to be whimsical and free and sleep until 10:00 a.m. and all the things, it's like, okay, but you really have people's attention, and I think it's our job to be responsible with that. And even with the things that we all go through personally, that's really nobody's business unless we decide to share.
AMY: That's true.
APRILLE: You know, it's really not. You never have to share it if you don't want to. I think women like you and I, we choose to because we know it would be helpful.
AMY: That's so true. But I love that you said that. You don't have to share everything. Some things you might just want to keep close to your heart, and there's nothing wrong with that as well. And so I think that way when you do share, you open your heart, you share it all because you feel really confident that you are ready to share this. So anytime you think you have to share something, I say just keep it a little bit close to your heart until you're ready to do so. The story comes out much more authentic when you're ready to share it. So I think that's important, too.
So, I want you to share one hot tip that my listeners can implement today to get a quick win around using stories within their business. Do you have a hot tip that you could share? We like to take action, like, right away after an episode.
APRILLE: Yes. Action–takers win. I love it. So I would say, yeah. I would say go ahead and write your instances out. Go ahead and go zero to ten, so on and so forth. Pick one of them. Go through the number two, which is—excuse me, the number three, which is the feelings, lessons, and outcomes. And then your call–to–action portion would be to go live and do a video about it. Share the actual story, share the instance. And don't make it about an opt in, maybe if you want them to join your community because there's some support. But just share. Just say, “You know what. I know what it's like. I know what it's like to be afraid to step out on your dreams. I know what it's like to hesitate. I know what it's like to have someone you love not support you.” And then you may go into that story and just share from a place of you understand, and see how that resonates with people and see how you feel saying it.
AMY: I love that. When you start to get on video and tell your stories, it definitely allows you—get that practice of telling your stories. It just gets easier and easier.
One thing I realized when I started to tell more stories is I wanted to rush through the story as fast as possible. Like, “I don't want to take up much of your time. Let me just tell you really quick.” And then I think it almost diminishes the story. I like when people add richness to it. I like when they tell me where they were and what they were thinking and what was happening around. So I could be part of that story. So I want you all to do exactly what you just said, like, get on video, do this, slow down a little bit, really tell your story, because guess what. The people that are listening are the people that need it most. And so, you know, make sure you add value and not rush through it. I'm so glad you shared that tip. And I love the challenge of actually getting on video and telling that story. That’s a big one.
APRILLE: Yeah. Tag Amy.
APRILLE: Tag me.
APRILLE: Make sure. We want to see you, and we want to share your story. So if you're willing to do it, and it doesn't have to be a twenty–minute video, but you could simply record it, make it amazing, just be authentic, be yourself, and see how people respond. But more importantly than people's response, I think is really about you getting comfortable with sharing you, challenging yourself and stretching yourself to really dive into a process that's going to help you in the future and help your audience.
AMY: It’s so true.
Now, I love this idea that they tag us so we can watch it. So you've got to tell people a few things. Tell people where they can find you online, on social, your website. First do that, and then I’ve got one more question for you.
APRILLE: So you can find me, @EpicAprille, everywhere. So it’s Epic A-P-R-I-L-L-E on all platforms. And my website, you can find me at aprillefranks.com.
AMY: Perfect. And guys, I'm going to put it in the show notes so you could just click right over.
And then the last question I have for you is, so what are you working on now? What are you most excited? What's going on in your world?
APRILLE: What’s going on in my world is we just wrapped up our hybrid event in Jamaica.
AMY: Oh, my gosh.
APRILLE: Yeah. We streamed it from Jamaica. That was really exciting. Just really helping people build a deeper affinity with their own communities, building larger communities, and launching their own products and services. So that's fun. But honestly, Amy, what is the biggest thing for us is just being more authentic with the brand, just really bringing in that femininity and that authenticity, that full alignment, and that you don't have to kill yourself to be successful in this business and that it really is about strategy. Because the truth of the matter is there's so many of us that have done so much wrong to get to where we are. And we did what we knew how to do. We did what we were taught. And what we're seeing now is women are really speaking up, and they're just finding a new way. They're finding a new way. They're being more authentic to themselves. And that's really what we're up to right now. We're up to just helping women become more aligned with what they really want and teaching them how to get there.
AMY: Ah, that is beautiful. I love what you said, that we've done so much wrong to get to where we want to go. And I can relate to that. You know, working the crazy hours and the weekends and hustle, hustle, hustle. And I don't want to teach my students that's the way to get there, so I've been examining how I've been showing up so I can be a better example for my students. So when you said that, I was like, ding, ding, ding. I am right there with you, girl. So I love that.
AMY: I am so glad that we are friends and that we got to meet—was it over a year ago. It had to have been over a year ago.
APRILLE: It was. It was about a year and a half ago, almost.
AMY: Yeah. So glad we've stayed connected. I love watching you on social and everything you're doing, and thank you so much for coming on my show. What a treat.
APRILLE: Thanks for having me.
AMY: I loved this conversation around storytelling with your brand, and I absolutely adore Aprille’s process. I can't wait to sit down and actually work through it on my own as well, because I know there's lots of stories that I haven't even thought of to tell to all of you.
So, I'd love to hear from you. So I want you to sit down, pen to paper, work through this process, then record one of your stories, jump on Instagram, jump on Facebook, tell one of your stories. And like Aprille said, make sure to tag me, make sure to tag her. We want to see you in action.
All right. I'll be looking for your stories online, and I'll see you same time next week. Bye for now.