EP 43 - Tom Jackobs - The Art of Story Telling to Boost Your Sales.

Awesomers Authority - We'll talk to subject matter experts that talk about various topics that would be of interest to other Awesomers who are listening including, but not limited to, starting a business, running a business, best marketing ideas, sourcing in China, organizational development, tools to help your your business more profitably and much more.
To say, Tom has been through a few things in his 30+ years of being an entrepreneur is an understatement. He’s definitely had more failures than successes, but wouldn’t have it any other way. He sold His fitness business which he owned for 9 years a year ago to become the Impact Pilot, helping entrepreneurs generate more income through better sales strategy and using stories to sell.

Tom has a BFA Degree from DePaul University in Chicago and holds his private pilot license for single engine airplanes, which was a lifelong dream he achieved 5 years ago.

He’s been a contributor to CBS Radio in Houston, a guest on Great Day Houston television show, Univision Television, Fox 26 News, KPRC Channel 2 and The CW Houston. He is also a presenter at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Houston.

Special Gift for your audience: www.TomJackobs.com/storybook

Instagram: @impactpilot

Twitter: @tomjackobs

Facebook: facebook.com/tom.jackobs

Facebook.com/jackobseffect LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trainertom/ Web: http://www.TomJackobs.com

Don't forget to Click Here for more incredible content from Tom on his site AlwaysBeSellingSystem.com/traininglink. Here you can learn about 5 Keysto creating impactful stories for more sales and more money.

CLICK HERE to Claim your Free Gift from Tom Jackobs


Storytelling can be a great marketing and sales tool in creating human connections in the business world.

On today’s episode, Steve’s special guest is Tom Jackobs. Tom is what he calls himself an impact pilot of his business. He has over 30 years of entrepreneurship experience and he helps other entrepreneurs generate more income through better selling strategy using the power of stories. Here are more key lessons on this episode:

  • Using storytelling as a way to increase sales.

  • What the Dramatic Impact Story Academy is all about.

  • How to make an emotional connection that transcends the sales process.

  • The Dear John Letter to Amazon as a real world example of storytelling and more.

So listen to today’s episode and learn how you too can leverage the power of storytelling to grow your business.

Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


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You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

00:01:15 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Tom Jackobs.)

Steve: This is episode number 43 of the awesome Awesomers.com podcast and you can just go to the Awesomers.com/43 webpage and you'll be able to find all the show notes, relevant details and even a link or two from time to time. Everything about this episode will be right there, Awesomers.com/43. Today my special guest is Tom Jackobs. Now to say Tom has been through a few things in his 30-plus years of being an entrepreneur is an understatement. He's definitely had more failures than successes, but wouldn't have it any other way. He sold his fitness business which he owned for nine years. Now after he'd made that sale of that business, he went on to become the impact pilot, which is a business designed to help entrepreneurs generate more income through better selling strategy and using stories to sell. Man oh man, I can't tell you how much I love storytelling as a methodology of marketing and sales and communication in general. It's really really effective. Now tom has a BFA degree from DePaul University in Chicago and he holds his private pilot license for single-engine airplanes, which he's had a lifelong dream and he achieved that over five years ago. Now I wanted to say a side note, he doesn't try to have impacts in that part of his piloting, but for selling he wants a big impact. Now, he's been a contributor to CBS radio in Houston and a guest on Great Day Houston, Univision television, Fox 26 News and many other Houston-related TV programs. He's also been a presenter at the Small Business Development Center in Houston, Texas. Tom has a really unique way of kind of just cutting right through it and getting to the heart of storytelling. Every one of us, in fact you listening, you have a story to tell. This really is the genesis of the Awesomers.com podcast. It's sharing people's stories, origin stories, authority stories, whatever the case may be because those stories not only are they interesting, but they're relatable right. We can see how the pieces fit together the more of these we see and the more of these we expose our self to. I'm super excited that Tom is joining us today and I know that you're going to be thrilled that you joined us as well.

Hey, Awesomers, welcome back. It’s Steve Simonson and today I have a special guest Tom Jackobs. Tom, welcome aboard.

Tom: Thanks a bunch, glad to be here.

Steve: I'm glad to have you here and of course the audience has already been given the quick inside information from the early read in, but I want to give you the chance in your own words to tell us who you are and what you do.

Tom: Yes absolutely. Well, Steve I call myself the impact pilot and what that really means is that I help small business owners create an impact in their business by being able to tell their own personal stories to sell their product. Now, there's a lot of storytellers out there now and it's all great to tell a really great story and get a standing ovation from your audience or even if you're doing a one-on-one talk, but what's the purpose of the story if all you get is a standing ovation. So, my spin on that is to make sure that you have a sale at the end of any kind presentation or any story that you're using and it's furthering the sale to go along.

Steve: I like it. You said an impact pilot yes?

Tom: Yes, creating impact.

Steve: So a lot of pilots would avoid impact just to be clear, but I guess we're heading for an impact. All right.

Tom: That’s right.

Steve: All right. I like it.

Tom: A positive impact.

Steve: Yes. I do appreciate that fact and we're going to dive into this concept of storytelling and how we can kind of build maybe a more friendly wrap around the sales process a little bit, but I like to start a little bit with you know kind of where you came from. You know, sometimes it's helpful to get a little bit of the origin story. So, can you tell us what was your first job when you came into this world as a professional?

Tom: As a professional or my first job period?

Steve: Yes, whichever you prefer. I mean I was pretty professional at 13 mowing lawns so.

0:05:20 (Tom talks about his first job working at McDonald’s.)

Tom: Yes, right. Well, I was flipping burgers at 16 at McDonald's. You know, it's interesting, I think there is a statistic that the majority of all CEOs started or worked for McDonald's at some point, so that's certainly myself. I started that way. But really at 16 I started my entrepreneurial journey also. I was a mobile DJ and I had a string quartet as well as I played violin and I had three other friends of mine from high school that formed a string quartet and we would go to weddings and do the string quartet thing. And I learned direct mail marketing before I knew what direct mail marketing really was because I would go through the newspaper on every Sunday afternoon and I would look at the engagement section. I would look up the brides to be in the white pages so that my date me for...

Steve: All right, hashtag look it up millennials, we use paper. It was hilarious.

Tom: And they would drop it off at the door once a year. So, I go through that and they actually had the addresses in the white pages and I would send a letter along with a demo tape of our string quartet to these brides-to-be and then offer my mobile DJ business as well. So that's how I went through high school and in college I learned quickly that in college that I should probably get a job and I don't know why I subscribe to that philosophy. I certainly don't anymore, but I decided to get a theatre degree, which you know pays so well.

Steve: I was going to say boy, yes bright future ahead for you Tom. I don’t know if you're headed there, but it’s on schedule.

Tom: Yes, right. Yes. So, I graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a BFA, Bachelor of Fine Arts. There's other ways that you could say that as well and I quickly started working in oil and gas because the theater did not pay my two worst habits, which are living indoors and eating food so. I decided to get a real job and for 12 years I spent in corporate help and sitting behind a desk and I always had like little side gigs I would do along the way, but never until 10 years ago did I really fully commit to being an entrepreneur and getting rid of the safety net and that's when I opened up my fitness center. So, while I was working in corporate, I was getting fat and happy, more on the fat side than the happy side, and I went to my doctor when I was 30 years old and he said you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and you're about 40 pounds overweight, which is the greater scheme of things, 40 pounds overweight isn’t all that you know terribly bad these days anyway, but certainly blood pressure and cholesterol were a concern at 30 years old. So, I went on a fitness journey. I learned how to work out properly. I learned how to eat properly. People saw that change in me over 12 weeks and I started helping other people. So, it is - I was like wow this is pretty cool I love helping people. It would be even better if I got paid for it. So, I got certified as a personal trainer and after I got certified, two more years I was like working as a personal training before work and after work and then I decided to buy my own personal training facility and in 2008 I dumped out my entire retirement my 401k, I bought this existing facility, I borrowed some money and then quickly doubled it in size in square footage not in customers. It should have been the other way around you know looking back, but within six months I was broke. I was physically broke, mentally broke and definitely spiritually broke. And at that point, I remember this to this day. I was sitting behind my computer monitors in my office and staring at my bank account. And it was a Sunday afternoon. It was nice hot day and humid in Houston, Texas of course and yes the tears just started rolling down my face because I realized that on Friday of that week payroll and rent were due on the same day.

Steve: Oh, bad luck.

Tom: Yes. And I was $10,000 short and I had already gone through my entire line of credit. I had maxed out all my credit cards and I didn't have any sales pending for that week. And so I had to make the hardest phone call of my life and two things with that making a hard phone call like that is one, we're entrepreneurs. We don't like to ask for help. We're told that we can do anything and just grind through and it's going to be just fine. And I'm telling anybody that's listening right now that that's complete BS. We need help from time to time. The other thing that made that phone call very difficult is that it was to my father and I had to ask dad for money and that again is very humbling experience at and at that point I was 40 years old. And you know asking your father for money at 40 years old is very very humbling, but luckily dad agreed to loan me the money and that you know I put emphasis on loan because that's what it was because it came with a 12% interest rate. And I had to put my house up for collateral and he wrote a contract like a 10-page loan agreement.

Steve: Good for him. All right. He’s like yes, he’s...

Tom: What are you talking about? Steve, come on are you on my side on this?

Steve: Oh sorry, I was thinking as a dad. What a tyrant this guy is.

Tom: Yes, exactly. And so I was like dad, “I'm 40 years old, I don't need another life lesson.” He's like, “Yes you know you really do need a life lesson.” And he was right you know and that life lesson came with you know learning that I needed to ask for help. And so he loaned me the $10,000. I got through that little hump, but what really resonated with me with that instance was the need for asking for help and I did and I asked for help in the form of a business coach and so I invested in getting coaching for the very first time in my life and that was a complete game changer. So, I figured out how to sell because I didn't like to do it before and I figured out how to market and manage staff. And that very first year even though the first six months absolutely sucked I was able to gross a $100,000 that first year and I had staff working for me as well. The second year of business, we did $500,000 in sales.

Steve: Wow, quintuple.

Tom: In one year. Unfortunately, I spent $490,000 on other things. So, I finally got my margins right and once I understood the numbers and you know definitely having somebody to bounce ideas off was so critical, but I knew that selling was a process and as an entrepreneur or as an introvert entrepreneur sales did not come naturally to me. And I thought you had to be like all this, you know all these cool sales tactics and closing and be very gregarious and is you know being - and that's just not me. And I learned how to ask the right questions. I learned that it was a process and I just did the same thing every single time and everything single time that I followed the process I made a sale, well 9 times out of 10 I made the sale at 90% close rate, which is really really good.

Steve: It’s good.

Tom: Yes. And then I taught other people the same sales process and it worked for them and then we started to implement story in with our sales process and that just exponentially made it a lot better and the clients you know they’re still signing up, but then they started to sign up for a lot longer because they were attached to the story behind the sales.

Steve: Well, I just love - there's so much in that that I love. First of all, you know just the idea that we do need to ask for help. This is a - it is a humbling concept particularly introverts that - you know, those who sort of identify as introverts are far less like they'd asked for help. I mean I would rather you know crawl over glass to get to the other side of the street than have somebody pick me up and take me across and that's my own ego, that's just weakness right.

Tom: Yes.

Steve: I got to overcome that, so I definitely identify with that. I think a lot of entrepreneurs and even Awesomers will identify with that and also this general paradigm that sales is often either thought of in a negative context right, there's a negative connotation go on the salesperson. It’s like ooh, stand back everybody right.

Tom: Right.

Steve: And that certainly shouldn't be true and but then giving ourselves a permission to enjoy sales and enjoy the sales as a process, I love all of this. I'm just curious, as you developed and went from the sales, you'd call the sales process into kind of the storytelling, how did that evolution take place.

0:14:31 (Tom discusses how he made the shift from the sales process into the storytelling process.)

Tom: Yes, it was - it took awhile actually for that to kind of really solidified in my mind and really over the last five years while I still had the facility and I owned that for nine years, the personal training facility, and I sold it last year, so I've been really concentrating on my storytelling business and my sales process business and while I was still working with the gym and owning that facility I started also working for the consulting company that helped me with getting kind of that business coaching. And when I went through that with them and they wanted to do these one-day workshops where personal trainers would come in, learn about the business and then we'd be able to sell the program on the back end of that day and I found that just teaching about facts and figures and a process and all this you know people understood that and got it, but they didn't really connect with me or the other presenters. Once we started to incorporate stories behind that then we started to see the conversions go way up. I mean in three years I sold $4 million dollars worth of their program and it was all based on just telling impactful stories just like the story that I told you about you know sitting in my desk and all that, that's a true story and that was one that I shared during those workshops as well. It made me more of a human in the prospect’s mind and they could see the change in me and the stories of the change that if they were going through a tough time in their business at that moment that they certainly could get through it as well and succeed and definitely they could succeed with my program and that was the kind of a sales pitch at the end of it is - and it was so easy, that you know there was such a great connection, they understood, they paid attention, they knew what they needed to do next and that was to buy the program and go through it and you know they were very successful with that.

Steve: I really do like the premise of storytelling and making that emotional connection. We're going to take a quick break and when we come back we're going to talk a little bit more about how we put together those stories and where do they come from. I think a lot of us are like oh I don't have any cool stories, so what do i do then. Of course, I expect to be educated by Tom on that front, but we'll be right back after this.


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You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

Steve: Hey Awesomers, we're back already. I'm joined again by Tom Jackobs. We're talking a little bit about sales. We're talking a little bit about storytelling and as I teased before the break this idea that making an emotional connection is something that actually in my mind, my own words, it transcends the sales process. Sales is about kind of taking the trust that the salesperson has and handing it off to the prospect or the future customer so that they have the same trust and confidence and the best way to do that is through an emotional connection that is true and authentic. And I wonder Tom as I said, you know some people think I don't have any cool story so what do I do and can I take your stories? What would you say to those people?

0:18:27 (I don’t have any cool story, what do I do? Tom enlightens us on this front.)

Tom: No, don't take my story. It's my story. I'm going to own it. Everybody has a story though within them and you know I've dealt with you know tons of entrepreneurs going through this process and again, it's a process anybody can learn it. And so I start off with going through you know their life. You know, things happened in people's lives that you know they've either put aside and say oh that's not, that doesn't relate to what I do now. It does relate to who you are now and why do you do what you do. So, one of my clients Willie, she does a program called SendOutCards and so it's you know send cards, you know do it on the computer and sends it out for you. So, she sells that program all day long and she likes to do public speaking. And so she'll go tell people about the program, why it's important and how easy it is to use, which is great but she wasn't getting a lot of sales and people weren't getting to know Willie. So, I worked with her and I was like well let's go through your life and so we created these impact moments and we had probably a list of 10 of them and one really stood out to me. It was I believe it was about 10 years ago her mom and her husband died a day apart from each other. So, like on Monday she gets a call from the assisted living facility where her mom was and her mom wasn't sick, she's older but wasn't sick had passed that night. The next day, two police officers show up at her house and her husband was killed in a helicopter accident. Can you imagine what that does to someone right?

Steve: Unbelievable, yes.

Tom: So, she started getting in all these condolence cards in the mail and she was going through all these cards and you know thanking people and she was just like wow one of these cards just really resonated with me, but I couldn't figure out who it was from and she kept going through and just like who could this be, who could this be and she realized that it was from the wife of the helicopter pilot who had also died in that accident and at that moment she realized the power of a card and making that connection with somebody. She had also received cards from businesses that she had done business with and she certainly appreciated a business owner taking the time to send a condolence card and you know being with her in her time of need and she became even more loyal to that customer or to that business and as she now talks and teaches other business owners on how to create that relationship with a client, and how to keep that client for the long-term, it's through understanding that person as a human. And now when she tells that story people one, pay attention because that's pretty darn tragic right and second, now they know why Willie is so passionate about SendOutCards. And the first time that she did this she was super super nervous. She’s like Tom I don't want to do it. I was like well you got to because you told me your... And she was like okay, I'm going to do it. She did it and she said she was crying doing it and she said most of the audience was crying and she had like 50 people in the audience. She said it was the most amazing thing when she finished. She said usually I'm done, I go, a couple people say hey great presentation. A couple people will sign up for her service. She said when she was done with this one, she had a line of people waiting to talk to her. She got two more speaking engagements off of it and she signed up five times as many people that she normally would all from just being honest and vulnerable to them.

Steve: I love the you know the idea that you know we are kind of the sum of what brought us here right, all of the past actions, all the past triumphs and tragedies for that matter, we're a sum of all those parts and that really is kind of who we are and how we approach things and it's only when we try to be disingenuous or we try to step back from that that it's - we don't get the response that probably that we want. Is that kind of your premise that if we embrace who we really are that we're going to have more success?

Tom: Absolutely. People can tell if you're holding something back or you're not giving the full truth or now you know we're in such a connected yet not connected world. Everybody is connected on Facebook, LinkedIn, all that great stuff, but do we really know who our friends are on Facebook. I mean I don't know half of or even probably like, I only probably like know about 10% of the people that are friends of mine on Facebook, but yet we're connected and they'll comment, like and all that. When we have that more human connection now where we're telling something that you know that shaped who we are, now they get to know who Steve is, they get to know who Tom is and they're more likely to trust you, know you and then like you and if you know, like and trust you're going to buy from that person if you're selling something.

Steve: Yes. Now I definitely – again, I believe in this premise. I think that an origin story - so actually some of our episodes are called Awesomer origin stories and that really is the basis of hey what got you here and you go back to listen to Awesomers.com/2 where I think we - it was Danny McMillan and he shared some just absolutely you know tragic moments in his life, but they helped to find who he is and helped him cope today with you know hey Amazon shut down my listing, what are you going to do right. You know you kind of respond and carry on with your life because you've seen worse and when people kind of understand the big picture I do think that there's more of a true connection right. It's not the picture of the sandwich I had for lunch today on Facebook, it's actually a relationship that you can admire and trust.

Tom: Yes.

Steve: So, when people typically come into this process of developing their own, I don't know, you call them impact points, but do you call them-

Tom: Yes.

Steve: Is there a title or something you usually call the - making a presentation or your story points or how do you refer to it?

0:24:41 (Tom talks about the Dramatic Impact Story Academy.)

Tom: Yes. Well, the whole program that I put people through is called the Dramatic Impact Story Academy. So, we start looking at the impact moments in your life so what shaped you and then we'll go through and develop the top three of those stories into full-blown stories and most times people will tell the story and be like kind of rambling on and there's not enough detail and so then we go through a revision where we’d start to add in all those little details that make a story come to life. If I told you I was like yes I got in my car this morning and I got on the road and I saw a car accident. Okay, you got an image in your mind of what one, what my car might look like, what the road might have been like, what the day was like and what the car accident was like. You had an idea, I had an idea and five other people have five different ideas. But I always say I got into my Honda Civic this morning. You know, I barely was able to close the door because the rust is going out and I got on the pavement, it was all cracked this morning and it was raining, it was drizzling, it was a little slick out and I witnessed this car accident with a semi-truck and a little car and it scared the heck out of me. Now, you have a real idea of the kind of like that whole story has a lot more detail to it. So when you start to add in those details we color this story and then we look at what are the teaching moments, so the whole idea is to sell something. So, we got our stories, now we have to figure out what teaching moments that we want to leave our audience with that it will drive them to a sale. So we'll come up with three to five teaching moments of what you want to teach and then we'll create a bridge between a story and a teaching moment. At the end of it then we come up with some sales scripts, so do we do a hard sell? You know, only five of these is available and go run to the back of the room and get it.

Steve: Oh, you got some promo happening right now just with that concept, yes.

Tom: Yes right, exactly, or do we do a soft you know you go to my website, here's a link, download the special report, love to you know share more information with you or come see me in the back, give me your card and I'll send something to you, you know, very soft kind of way of selling as well as the hard pitch, which they're appropriate in their own way. And then we have this binder now of stories, teaching moments and sales scripts and then I have a storyboarding process so when you have a presentation you pick a story, teaching moment story, teaching moment sales pitch. So, it doesn't matter if you need to do a 10-minute talk or you need to do a four-hour workshop. Now, you can plug and play your different stories and teaching moments to create an entire experience for your audience.

Steve: So I really - the canvas you've talked about you know of this tapestry of you know story all the way through the teachable moment and then the action step whatever that may be, I really do agree with that premise and I think anybody who's been in live conferences or audiences of any kind whether webcasts or otherwise, when somebody is telling a story and then you see kind of that connection to the – so, I learned this, this was my takeaway and here's now how I behave or act or here's what I decided to do, everybody can identify so much easier than going you know I think the SEO is really smart so I decided to do SEO. It's like a cool story bro, we got nothing from that.

Tom: Right.

Steve: We’ll go to the next guy and hear what he got to say. So, I do think that it will resonate better with audiences, but I wonder if you can help us because a lot of our folks out there are going to be E-commerce-oriented guys, how does storytelling get done with the online business? You know, they may be E-commerce sellers, they may be brand builders, how do they tell a story? Maybe it's not even relevant to them. Tom, am I right or wrong?

Tom: Oh no. It definitely is relevant to them and so video becomes your platform or it can become your platform for selling something. So definitely if it's info products then introducing yourself and why this is important to you, you know telling your story you're - you know there's the founder story, there's a sales story and there's an objection handling stories that you can all kind of create. So, you know I love the founder stories because that really identifies why that founder or the business owner got into the business in the first place, why they're you know passionate about it and then we can go into the sales stories and all that sales stories. So, if you're doing just E-commerce, write a story about the product that you have. There was actually a study and I wish I had it like right in front me so I could quote it, but these professors bought all these little knick knacks at garage sales for about a dollar or less than a dollar and they posted them up on eBay. And so they put regular ones up on eBay and just listed what they were and then they contracted with writers to write a story about the item and then they put the story to the item and post that up on eBay. For the items that they just posted, they got you know the dollar, the dollar 50. For the ones that they posted along with the story, they saw a three to 10 times increase in price just because there was a story involved with it. You know, it was like a plastic hotdog that when you crank it it like runs or something like that. They created this ridiculous story around it and it sold for you know 10 times, you know $10 instead of a dollar.

Steve: I love that. It's really an excellent marketing technique to incorporate stories right and as one example, so I used to have a company and we were in the mobile accessories and consumer electronics space and we actually wrote a little love story. It was a little one of those videos that we had animated and it talked about you know this iPad case was really sad and lonely and so was this iPad, but and when they came together they fell in love right and they fit together and everything was perfect and we had them walking on the beach or sitting on a bench with the sunset right and you know first they were apart and then they were together. It was silly in many ways, but it really did help the audience connect that hey this is more than just a case. It's you know our particular bend on a case and people seem to respond to it. We love storytelling. I think a brand needs storytelling even beyond the founder story. So, I love founder stories. That's again the premise of the Awesomers origin stories, but I love brand stories. How do you feel about brand stories and product stories and so on?

Tom: Oh, absolutely. You know, product stories or sales stories kind of intermix. They’re same terminology. Those are super important as well because now you can tell like why is this product really important. I love the image that you created with the iPad and iPad case because then you can - in the story, you can talk about the features and the benefits of the particular case without boring people with well it's you know leather stitched and then it's got the pocket here and you can put your business cards here. You can create this whole imagery of it and make it so much more interesting for people and you can add 20% markup to that just because you have a great story.

Steve: Yes, I have to admit we more or less stole the idea from the J. Peterman catalog kind of idea and which was personified on Seinfeld. That's actually my J. Peterman experience-

Tom: Yes, awesome.

Steve: - is to just pick the funny stuff on Seinfeld, but the reality is we even tried this thing with things dating back to area rug right. We would write these silly stories about how this rug came to be and you know some cases they were fanciful and you know fantasy type of things. In other cases, they were like hey you know this thing was you know born into bed and has a thousand stitches per inch and this family has been doing it for you know six generations or whatever it was, so they ranged in the type of stories. Do you feel that you know brand needs to kind of pick a lane or they can tell all kinds of stories?

Tom: Oh, I think they can - you know, the brand story is the brand story, so that definitely is just one story, but for each of the products that they have I think you can have a good variety of different ways of telling about that product and you know definitely being consistent amongst all of your products. So, if you want to be very factual about you know like who built this or being very - you know, doing a fantasy story about it and creating characters and all that and being very cutesy and fun with it that's all who your brand is, so being consistent across you know we a lot of times in marketing you hear you know the marketing scent or the ad scent that as in smell scent not pennies, but making sure that everything is congruent along the way so your consumer isn't confused by all of a sudden you're like super cute and the time before you’re like really serious about it. You know even - I can think about like you get these inspection slips in my clothes and you know when they used to say like inspected by number five-

Steve: Yes.

Tom: I don't know who number five is, but I noticed now there's - I get now inspected by Maria right. Now, I like have a picture of somebody even though there's no picture there. I get Neuro Coffee sent to me every month and it's great coffee by the way, no affiliation, but the founder writes a note on the invoice. You know, hey Tom you're in month number 19, glad you're with us, Mike.

Steve: Nice.

Tom: A handwritten note, I mean you know how many shipments is he doing a day and he's like taking the time to do that. It puts a human to that product and I don't always you know if I were to cancel it I'd feel bad about upsetting Mike because I'm canceling a person not just a number.

Steve: Now, I think that's really good. That's actually probably one of the most important points that maybe I haven't helped hammer home enough, which is it's not just making the sale. It's not just making that initial connection. It's the long-term brand equity that's involved right. It’s this emotional halo effect that the brand starts to carry as a result of this new relationship, which has transcended the sales process and into this connection between you know ideally between humans, but at least between people and stories and that longevity, that lifetime value of a customer must be higher.

Tom: Oh yes.

Steve: Do you agree? Yes.

Tom: Oh, absolutely, absolutely because you're not going to cancel with a friend or somebody that you know. You know, you're going to - if something happens in service, something always happens, you're going to be a lot more forgiving when you know that person personally.

Steve: Yes, boy isn't that the truth. I could tell you stories between people who love the brand and people who couldn't care less about the brand and the treatment that we received on the service team side of the equation. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, I want to talk about how an average entrepreneur tackles this problem. Let's say they don't have any stories, they don't have any beginnings, they don't know where to start, I hope that Tom is going to share right after the break what we do. Can you help us Tom?

Tom: Absolutely.

Steve: Look at that, right after this. We'll be right back.


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Steve: Okay. I promised Tom was going to give us all the answers and he's delivering so far. So, the concept of where do you begin right, I think a lot of people identify with the problem itself, but I don't know if they know what to do next. So, how do you recommend they get started? You alluded to some of the things earlier, but hopefully you could stitch it together a little more.

0:36:51 (Tom talks about how an average entrepreneur can get started on the storytelling process.)

Tom: Yes. I think going through an exercise of just identifying one story and writing that out and going through it and you know I'm offering your listeners you know the storybook that I put together, which is you know the seven steps to go ahead and put that story together and I can give you the link, so it's tomjackobs.com/storybook and in that we’ll give the process of getting a story on paper that has more drama than just chronologically going through the process. So, it goes through all that, but even before that it's really important to look at things that happened in your life that created who you are today and they don't have to be tragic. You know, you don't have to have like suicide attempts or murders or anything like that that happens in your family or whatever. It could be very joyous times, you know a time that you won a sporting contest or you overcame just something in your life. People love to hear those stories. You may not think because it happened to you that it's that important, but to somebody it is. So, all bets are off the table, just write down everything that's happened in your life that you're proud of or ashamed of or things that kind of shaped you in your life and then you go through that list and you'll probably have 10, 15, maybe even 20 different moments in your life as far back as you can remember and then go through that list and look at which ones bring up the most emotion, so I called it the most emotionally charged stories that you have, probably about three to five of those. Those are the ones to lean into because those are the ones that are going to be the ones that you're going I don't know if I want to share this or not, but those are the ones that are going to create that bigger connection with your clients and with your audience and that audience whether that's an audience of one, audience of a thousand, live or video you know. So, you have those what I call impact moments in your life and then finding those three that are most emotionally charged and then identifying that number one, that's really the most emotionally charged one and really map that out in terms of the hero's journey. And so in that storybook that you guys can download, that will have the process of going through creating that story and creating as much drama as possible in it and then think about what you're selling. So, what are the teaching moments? What do you want your audience to take away? What's the framework? You want to teach them what they need to do not necessarily how to do it. If you give them how to do it, well that's your intellectual property, that's what you're selling so you don't want to give them everything. Show them what they need to do and for those that are you know want to do it on their own, they have the framework, they can go do it on their own. For those that want more help then you have the program that you're selling to them, the how to actually do it and those teaching moments really are that glue between the story and the sale. So now you paint this picture, this is what happened to me, this is what I learned from it, this is the framework that I went through and this is either the product that will help you overcome that if you have that same problem or this is the framework or the information that you need to go through it or the coaching or whatever it is that you're selling. So, I'm thinking about consumer products, Tide - you know when Procter & Gamble you know markets Tide, they're telling you what it does and they're showing you what it does. It gets your clothes nice and clean. Well, if you want how to do it you need to buy the Tide pods right. That's the same thing in any product that you're selling from the stage or on video. Give them what they need to be doing with it. You need to use Tide. Well, the only way I can get Tide is to go to the store and buy it. That's the how to do it so.

Steve: I like that. I didn't mean to interrupt you there, but first of all thank you for giving us the first step, which is easy enough. We go to Tom Jacobs and we're going to put these in the story notes too just in case people want to see it there, but tomjackobs and that's J-A-C-K-O-B-S, the last name spelling dot com slash story time?

Tom: Storybook.

Steve: Ooh, nerds, storybook, tomjackobs.com/storybook and then you're going to get some seven steps to kind of bring drama and kind of get to your stories, which I love. I really do think that you know I've spoken to a bunch of groups, masterminds, audiences that range from you know my cat in the corner, which I don't actually have. It's an invisible cat all the way to you know audiences of a couple thousand or more and I often talk about this idea of particularly having an origin story, a brand origin story. Everybody understands - I don't remember if it’s Gillette or one of these guys, but he's like yes I like the razor so much I bought the company right. Now that's a pretty condensed story, but you get it right. It's like oh that must be a nice razor, he bought the company. And so everybody has a variation to that and one of the masterminds I spoke at everybody is like they’re like I don't know how I have a story and I'm not a good writer and they had all these objections and I'm like everybody has a story. And then they would just tell me well here's why I don't have a story and that was their story by the way right. I’m like just tell that and of course if you need help right, there's people that can help you with writing and editing and so forth, but this is a problem that's quite solvable. Don't you agree?

Tom: Oh, absolutely. I mean it's a process just like sales is a process and that's really how my mind works anyways.If I can just drill it down and know step by step what I need to do I'm successful at doing it. You know, it's when things are just kind of in the clouds why you need to tell a story, well that – great, I don't - where do I start, so having that process and having that roadmap and then just take step by step you're going to have a great story that you'll be super proud of that will sell you know tons of your product.

Steve: Yes. I definitely think that you know if you're looking to elevate and accelerate kind of your marketing, your sales that storytelling is a really foundational element. I love it personally. It's - and even with a brand, you know one time we had a brand and we took the values of that brand you know and we you know well we want to be resilient, we want to be trustworthy and we made actually little comic book character for each one of those right and they were little heroes and we told a story. This one's an Old West cowboy, but you know he was you know about whatever, truth, justice, American way and then we had you know some samurai and he was about you know whatever consistency and then honor, you know whatever it was, and we had all these stories because it was a global company trading in 30 different countries, but all of these stories just, they just told the brand story as little individual’s characters not that hard to do, not really that creative at the end of the day, but you know we went on. We found artists you know on the freelancing type of websites and we actually ended up sticking with one artist to do you know the whole - all of the story so the characters had a little bit of consistency and then we did choose different writers for the different stories and we found it to be very interesting and successful and most of all people would identify with the brand as a result of those stories. They would say oh identify with you know this particular story or I remember this story. They never come and go I bought because I heard this story. They just go oh I really liked that story and then you're like oh and you're also a customer, there's not a cause and effect. Is that how you're doing that?

Tom: Yes, yes, yes exactly and you know the even those stories they're your stories and even if you're in a commodity based business nobody can you know refute your story. That's what makes you different in the marketplace and now you know blue ocean, red ocean, you want to be in the blue ocean because you're alone and there's no other competition. If you're fighting over price in the red ocean, well it's just a fight to the death. Be unique, be different and story is the easiest way to identify as being unique and different.

Steve: So, this is my special call out to all those entrepreneurs out there especially when you're in the consumer products category. I know you're saying oh how could stories relate to me. I'm not selling in person or this or that and I'm going to ask Tom for his input here, but my belief is it doesn't matter if you're in beauty products, it doesn't matter if you're in health and fitness products, it doesn't matter if you're in consumables of any kind, you know maybe pet foods or the like, there's stories that can go with any and every product or brand on the planet right Tom?

Tom: Yes, yes absolutely, and it's the stories that connect you to the consumer.

Steve: Yes, yes. I just can't stress it enough. So, as they start going down this journey of you know putting together the solution and things like that, when do they start looking for help? I know a lot of us we are like hey this is a cool process, but I'm busy and I don't really - I'm not a great writer, I don't feel comfortable kind of obsessing this out. When do they start looking for help out there?

Tom: Yes. I mean that's when you find that you're not doing the work necessary because as coaches and consultants, I mean that's what we provide is that accountability to make sure that it gets done and then a second pair of eyes to go over it and so kind of - because you're so into the story all the time and you might not know like is this appropriate, is this not appropriate and having that second set of eyes you go yes it is, no it's not, let's change this around. It makes the process so much easier and it takes a lot of the pressure off as well.

Steve: Yes, I definitely - I'm a big advocate of bringing experts in that can help accelerate it. You know, we can't literally buy time, but this is the closest thing to it. We can accelerate our completions and our progress by bringing experts in and Tom tell us what is a typical scenario? So, let's say somebody says hey I'm totally into this, I like this idea, I'm ill-equipped to do it myself and they want to engage somebody like yourself, how does your process work? What's the length of time? You know, how complex is it?

Tom: Yes. I think it's pretty simple so because it is a process, but it's a nine-week program. Sometimes it goes 12 weeks, it just depends on how much effort there is with the person and if they get all their homework done. But we go through the impact moments, we go through the impact stories, writing those out, going to the teaching moments then into the sales pitch, go into storyboarding, which is creating those presentations and by that point now you have enough for an unlimited number of presentations so you can literally like plug and play story and teaching moment and sales pitch for the particular audience that you're going to be talking to. Well and again, it works for if you're doing one-on-one presentations. It works with in-person on a stage in front of a thousand people or doing just camera work as well, so any a medium it worked.

Steve: Yes, webinars.

Tom: Yes absolutely. I'll also work on staging so this is where finally after like 25 years my theatre degree actually comes to work for me.

Steve: I was wondering when because the oil and gas did not do the job. Oh good, you’ve got some staging. Finally, the payoff parents, here it comes.

0:48:27 (Tom talks about staging in detail.)

Tom: Yes, exactly. It was like thanks mom and dad for putting me through school. Yes. So, I'll work with them on actual staging, so there's two parts of that. One is the physicality of how do you use the stage in front of you and again, video is the same thing. And the second is how to use your voice, so vocal intention, intonation, speed, pauses, all that makes a huge difference in terms of how do you take an audience on a rollercoaster ride with you because you know if you just go through monotone, reading from notes, not going to cut it. But if you add specific moments in there where you're going to take a pause, you're going to allow them to sink in what you just talked about and then you get a little quieter and then you get really more excited, you know it's going to be a lot more interesting to watch. So, I don't think of these as just presentations, they’re performances and every time that you get up in front of somebody and again one person or a thousand people it's a performance and you got to be on.

Steve: I like that. Well finally the theater degree pays off everybody. That is the ooh, I was on pins and needles for awhile I’m not going to lie, but he started off sketchy and you brought it home, well done.

Tom: Yes. It only cost me 100 grand to - well not me, my parents.

Steve: Well either way the money was spent and we’re going to say it has value now. I like that. That's a lesson for everyone. So, you know I would like you to just share if you will anything that you think is unique about your approach to this because there's other people who talk about you know doing speeches better, doing stories better you know whatever, how would you say that you're unique in your approach if at all?

0:50:11 (Tom explains why his approach is unique and different from other people.)

Tom: Yes. Yes. There's really two places where I'm unique and different. One is the theatrical element of the performance itself. So, how do you bring theater into that performance and the second is now how do you sell, so that you know that's where so many stop. It's like you go into this is how you tell your story, it's an origin story, it's great boom boom boom and then nothing. Like well where's the pitch? You know, I'm hearing your story I want the next action you know whatever the next action might be. It might be you know to make a change in my life. It might be to sign up for your email list. It might be to buy your product right then and there. Whatever that next action is needs to be in every presentation because your story is your sales tool.

Steve: I like that. I definitely think that there's a lot of entrepreneurs out there and they're saying I don't want to be the face of my brand, I don't want to - you know they, maybe they're super-introverted right, there's a probably scale of introversion. What do you say to them? You know, where they’re like I'm just too nervous or too scared or unwilling and whatever way, how do you resolve that?

Tom: Sure. Do you know who Flo is?

Steve: I've heard of Flo, yes. She's the insurance salesperson for one of the things on TV.

Tom: Right. So, she's the face. She's the story. So, hire a Flo to do it. I don't recommend that though.

Steve: And she’s great.

Tom: Yes and she's good, yes. Personally, I don't recommend it because it's not you and it's not your personality that built that business and - for small businesses especially. I mean Progressive is a Fortune 500 company. They can you know afford to pay Flo you know half a million dollars a year to be Flo so. If you yourself and maybe you have a small team with you, yes be yourself, tell that origin story, sell your product and service. People are going to love you for it.

Steve: Yes. I definitely say open yourself up to that vulnerability and push yourself outside of the comfort zone. People are far more to connect with that genuine authentic nervous founder than they are - especially as a small business with some character because we don't have the budgets that Fortune 500s do and so you know we're not - we're going to get Slappy, the cross-eyed clown as our spokesman and that's not necessarily going to go as well as we want.

Tom: I'd love to see that.

Steve: I’d pick someone with eyeglasses, yes. I have a friend who sells eyeglasses. That would not be character recommendation, but man oh man that would lead to some funny viral videos, so I digress. So, in principle we both agree that a founder story has value. Sometimes it's not even just the you know I bought the razor and I bought the company and it can be I needed to make a change in my life and so I started this business and now look what's happened. Those can be just as powerful, don't you agree?

Tom: Absolutely. And don't shy away from the struggle. I mean everybody sees - you know this bothers me so much. You know, it's all the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and all those look at me you know I'm washing my car in front of my mansion. You know, I got a string of Ferraris - I forgot who that is, and you don't see the struggle. I want to know more about that guy's struggle like what got him there right and that - because you know that doesn't seem attainable to everybody. It's like yes, you know, yes I kind of want that, but I want to know what he went through to get there.

Steve: Yes, it is - the struggle actually has far more impact especially if there's been some you know sustainable or positive impact afterwards. Like I went through this, a lot of people have been through things and they identify with it and they're like well if that guy can do it you know maybe I can do it too.

Tom: Yes, absolutely. Yes, I'm working with a guy that does rehab work for alcohol and drug dependencies and he was a drug addict and an alcoholic and he tells a story that his impact moment you know as he tells it was when he decided to kill himself. And he starts with that and everybody in the audience is like oh my gosh you know and mostly you know addicts and alcoholics probably have similar moments to that and now they're seeing somebody that's on the recovery side like wow maybe I can do that, too.

Steve: Yes, that's - it is much more powerful when you have those connections and those genuine and authentic stories that are told and they can range from any you know type of outcome. Maybe it's just to help other people. Maybe it's to you know position a product or you know a course or whatever the case may be, but you know we have a general foundation of you know kind of pay it forward or you know helping other people so that you know well we use a Zig Ziglar quote and I quote it often, the audience already know, but it's you know you can have everything you want in your life if you help enough other people get what they want in their life and I'm probably mismashing it a little bit, but that premise still works and those stories work even better when you come from that premise and so I definitely agree with you. Do you have any parting words of wisdom that you might leave with somebody who's heard us? Maybe they're convinced, maybe on the fence, but you know any parting words of wisdom you might leave them with to help drive the point home?

0:55:35 (Finally, parting words of wisdom from Tom.)

To: Yes. It's really don't be afraid of being vulnerable. I mean and for men and entrepreneurs it's very difficult to go to that place, but the moments that I've seen especially men entrepreneurs get vulnerable in front of other people, it creates such a connection and the times that I've hidden behind from telling a story I just don't, I don't feel that connection with the audience and there's nothing, you know there's a little nice real golf applause afterwards and all that, but the moment that you get really vulnerable and you tell about you know crying on your desk, you know worried that you're not going to make payroll and rent and calling your dad for money, and a lot of times when I tell that story those emotions come up again because I put myself in there and they see that and they're like wow that really had an effect on Tom you know and he came through it. So, if I'm going through that, he went through it, I can get through it, too. So just don't hide behind you know all the successes that you have, really embrace the other moments in your life that made you who you are today and don't be afraid to share that.

0:56:51 (The Dear John letter to Amazon as a real world example of storytelling.)

Steve: Well again, so wise and I'm going to give everybody kind of a real world example of how we're using stories to kind of break through the clutter today. So, we've launched an initiative in cooperation with some of the executives at Amazon and you go to empowery.com/dearjohn and basically we're saying send a Dear John letter to Amazon. Tell them why you're breaking up with them. Sure, we were in love at the time and we were both starry-eyed and things were great. As I like to say, Amazon was kind enough to let us drop off our junk in the warehouse and sure they sent a bill from time to time, but we got along. Everything was good, but over time maybe things didn't go so well. The prices went up and reviews started to disappear and things haven't been as robust and honeymoonish as they once were and you know what, now we're fed up and we're going to kick Amazon to the curb if they don't get in the game. And we're using this metaphor of the Dear John letter to send a message to Amazon executives letting them know that although we appreciate and love the kind of big opportunity that exists or existed at one time, there's trouble on the horizon and the Dear John letter is something that's breaking through the clutter of just some other seller complaining and they're actually able to see some of the insights that sellers wish to share and also some of the humor, you know P.S. I'm keeping the jewelry, but definitely go to the Dear John – empowery.com/dearjohn and you will see some instructions on how to create your own letter. We will put those in the hands of Amazon executives and in some cases we've already gotten those Dear John letters blown up and put on the walls at Amazon so they can remind themselves that the seller stories are not just the positive wonderful success stories that we have all talked about, but there are also some of these heartbreaking hey you delete all my reviews now my $200,000 sales per month are in jeopardy and my livelihood and my family and I don't know what to do. This is real stuff and this really just is a powerful way to say that Tom's point about storytelling is really a way to break through that clutter. What do you think about that initiative Tom?

Tom: Oh my gosh, I love that. That's brilliant because now it humanizes a complaint.

Steve: Yes, yes. It really is something special and it's something that all sellers can participate in and this is not intended to you know just be a pain in the side of Amazon, but in fact to articulate some of the real stories that go behind it. That humanization is happening. It's a real thing. People are both having wonderful success on Amazon and creating businesses in the E-commerce in general, but there's also some trauma out there and we want to just share both sides, so I love it. Tom thank you so much for taking the time today, very insightful, very informative. How do we find your website again?

Tom: Yep. It's tomjackobs.com so altogether T-O-M-J-A-C-K-O-B-S dot com and you can get that storybook just put forward slash storybook at the end of that and I'll send that right out. And there's a video that goes along when I actually take a client through the revision process, which is pretty cool to watch.

Steve: I love it. Well thank you for that. I know the Awesomers out there really appreciate somebody like yourself you know putting something out there to help them and really I highly encourage you to keep spreading the word on storytelling. It is so powerful and much needed in this world.

Tom: Oh, thanks Steve, glad to be here with the Awesomers and glad I could add some value.

Steve: Yes sir. Awesomers, you guys listening at home or wherever you are, we'll be right back after this.


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Steve: Well once again another Awesomer has delivered for you and has really talked about I think in such specific detail and such an insightful way of how to use storytelling as a part of your business strategy, as part of your sales strategy and ultimately as part of your marketing strategy. Selling is not you know just a binary please buy from me, yes or no, right. Selling is about sharing confidence and sharing the benefits and features and so on and you can do that through storytelling and especially you can build relationships through storytelling. I really love this premise and I think what Tom is doing is extra important and I'm a huge huge fan. This has been the Awesomers.com episode number 43 and to go find show notes and links to Tom and his various enterprises and activities and special bonuses, you can go to Awesomers.com/43 and don't forget if you join the Awesomers.com mailing list we're going to send you a free company origin story, a free method or process that is all about developing your company origin story. There's also some finance discussions, how to find your why personal episodes, really great stuff. It's all free. We don't beat you over the head to buy stuff, so go check that out. Go to Awesomers.com, join that mailing list and then you can also again join us at Awesomers.com/43 for the show notes and details about this episode.

Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.