Today on The Systems Made Simple™ Podcast, Courtney Elmer talks with Tony-Award winning producer Nick Demos to help you master the art of storytelling and tell your brand story in a compelling way.
Meet Nick Demos: a Tony-award-winning producer and filmmaker turned business coach who now helps entrepreneurs like you learn to master the art of storytelling and story selling, so you can scale your business by telling your personal brand story in a powerful and compelling way.
\Inside today’s episode, Nick shares why the art of storytelling is the quickest and most influential way to build instant know-like-and-trust with your audience and articulate the value in the transformation that you provide, through your brand story.
Even if you think your story isn’t all that great (or that you don’t have one) Nick is going to teach you the origins of the art of storytelling and show you how to take everyday moments and turn them into magical, relatable points of connection that magnetize your audience to you and compel them to take action.
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL DISCOVER:
PLUS, Nick will teach you step-by-step how to find relatable points of connection in your everyday life that you can turn into riveting elements of your overall brand story to attract more of your audience and convert them into paying clients and customers.
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You’re Listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast Episode # 46!
Today's guest is here to help you sell more of your products, programs or services by learning how to master the art of storytelling. Or should I say story selling, because you’re about to learn how to use your personal brand story, as well as the stories you experience on a daily basis to connect with your audience in a much deeper way. That’s coming up next, so stay tuned!
Today’s guest is the amazing Nick Demos: a Tony-award winning producer and filmmaker turned business coach who now helps entrepreneurs like you learn how to convert more clients into customers through the art of storytelling
He’s here to share the mistakes people make when story selling in your marketing, and why telling your brand story is the fastest way to build connection with your audience and clearly articulate the value in the transformation that you provide.
Even if you think your brand story isn’t all that great, or that you don’t have one, Nick is going to teach you the origins of story selling, explain why it’s such a powerful sales mechanism, and show you how to master the art of storytelling by taking everyday moments and turning them into relatable points of connection that compels your audience to take action.
The secret is in learning how to help your ideal client take center stage. I can think of no one better than Nick to show you how to do exactly that. You ready? Let’s roll the tape!
Courtney Elmer 8:53
Nick, I am so excited to have you on today to talk about this concept of story selling. Welcome to the show!
Nick Demos 8:57
Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here.
Courtney Elmer 9:00
When I saw you tell your brand story from stage last year at an event that we were both at, BBD Live for those that follow James Wedmore, your brand story was so inspiring. I remember sitting there and being completely enthralled in what you were sharing. It was moving, it was powerful, and it was something that resonated on such a deep level, You have mastered the art of storytelling, which we will dive into today. I’m excited for our listeners to hear your journey and learn how they can apply the powerful art of storytelling into their own businesses to make more sales. Tell us, how did you start teaching people about story selling?
Nick Demos 9:48
I am a Tony-Award winning producer for Broadway, a filmmaker, and a writer. I help heart centered entrepreneurs connect with their inner intuition and their creativity, so they can tap into their stories and use those to attract clients, connect with their audiences, and convert them to sales and have the massive impact that they want to have in the world. That's really what mastering the art of storytelling is all about. Or story selling, if you will!
Courtney Elmer 10:18
Who doesn't want that? Take us through your journey. Starting off, producing, writing, acting, and then now helping other business owners master the art of storytelling (or story selling, which I love) to capture their audiences' attention and convert them to customers and clients. What did that journey look like?
Nick Demos 10:36
My mom used to say that I was a storyteller from birth. The art of storytelling came easily to me, but I didn't realize what a gift it was. I used to hop up on the table and tell fairy tale stories to everyone. That led me to becoming a theatre artist as a kid and a dancer. I had my first professional job at 19. I went on the road with a national tour of a show, and then moved to New York City right away. I was doing the Radio City Christmas show with the Rockettes, dancing with the Rockettes kicking my legs. There are some boys in the show. I was in this Russian bear costume. And we're dancing and I'm doing these Russian leaps in the air. Radio City has a big stage, and because there're so many people there's this number grid on the floor. And I'm looking for my number and I couldn't find my number, and tears started rolling down my cheeks inside the bear head as we're singing Merry Christmas. Afterwards, I went to the dressing room, I took off the bear head, and I remember looking at myself in the mirror and saying, you have to change your life. And that began the journey of taking control of my life so I could have more creative control. Fast forward. I spent the next year learning how to run a theater, run a business outside of myself as a performer or a director. I learned the business at the end of that year, the board president came back to me and said, “We have not had this successful of a year in over a decade. We want you to stay. We don't want anybody else.” That led me to being there for about eight more years. When I got there, it had about six people on staff and a million dollar budget annually. When I left we had 45 on staff and it was a multi-million dollar company. That's where I learned how to scale a business. One year later, I found myself on the stage winning a Tony for Best Musical. I'm now at the pinnacle of success in the theater and that I'm being handed the Tony Award. Everyone around me was joyous and screaming and happy. I remember two things about that moment. One was, “oh my gosh, my investors are going to get paid back, thankfully. And then the second one was "This is it? This is what I worked my entire life for? This isn't what I thought this was going to be. This did not feel I thought this was going to feel. Now what?” That's what I was thinking as I'm walking up onto the stage. So that then sent me on a real journey of self discovery of trying to figure out what my next step was. I realized it was that I wanted to serve people in a different way. That's when I started teaching, mentoring, and coaching, which ultimately led me to the online space and helping creative entrepreneurs grow their business by mastering the art of storytelling and telling their brand story.
Courtney Elmer 18:41
So was it total conviction that you felt? Like, let's move forward and make this happen, stepping away from the old and into the new? Or were there some fears that came up along the way? Did you feel like you had mastered the art of storytelling at this point?
Nick Demos 19:14
Oh, no. I knew I needed to do this, but major resistance came up. I wondered, "What if I'm not good enough? What if I leave and everything falls apart and I can't make a living and starve?" But there was that little feeling deep inside of me, that intuitive voice that I knew I had to take that path, even though it wasn't the safe and easy one. That outweighed all the loud voices in my head. So I listened.
Courtney Elmer 20:37
I'm glad you did. That is so hard to listen to that little voice, isn't it?
Nick Demos 20:42
It can be.
Courtney Elmer 26:27
I think people get stuck sometimes in the fear of giving up what's good for pursuit in pursuit of what's great. So they've got a great job that pays well, they've got the recognition. They've got all the friends and family that support them. Their brand story is polished and perfect. There's no naysayers. It's safe. Life is good enough. But then there's this tug in another direction. A desire for something greater. I think that those are some of the most courageous people on this earth, those who are willing to give up what's good in pursuit of what's great.
Nick Demos 27:23
I knew I needed to grow. My father and I were sitting in his living room, and he kicked back in the recliner and said to me, "Nick, you work to live. You love what you do. You go every single day. And you love it. You get to be around people that inspire you." He said, "Not me. I can't wait for it to be done." That was such an eye opening moment for me. He said, "You are a real risk taker." I had never seen it like that. He had a comfortable life. But not a life that expanded him.
Courtney Elmer 30:13
Yes absolutely, and to sit here and listen to you tell me your brand story, I'm in awe of the courage that you took with every step, to pursue that voice, and to follow it, and to take whatever risks and to trust that it was leading you where you were meant to be. For the average person, that's not easy, because it feels so scary. Because there's already a path that's typically carved out culturally, or by their family, or by what other people think they should do. So I imagine there's people listening right now to this conversation about the art of storytelling, and story selling, who feel called in a direction and want to have a bigger impact, but it feels scary. But they're afraid of what people will say and all the excuses that come up to keep them playing it safe.
Nick Demos 31:15
Yeah. Luckily I did have a father and a mother who encouraged me. So I had that support system. I've also had this belief that I'm going to make mistakes, I'm going to fail, but part of what the theater taught me is this: that you have more flops than you do hits — 80% of shows on Broadway are flops only 20% are hits. So you have to know how to flop. So between that and my parents, and this make it work attitude, I've been able to look at the failures as lessons. I look at everything as a lesson for growth, a lesson to change, a lesson to pivot, a lesson to find more alignment.
Courtney Elmer 34:59
So I'm curious, when your clients come to you to work with you to learn how to master the art of storytelling, what's one of the biggest struggles that they're facing that keeps them from telling their brand story? Why is story selling a struggle for them? And how do you help them overcome it?
Nick Demos 35:25
I have this diverse, amazing network of students from online entrepreneurs to creative artists. The thing that they have in common, is this feeling of not being enough. This is a big block when it comes to story selling. The art of storytelling is tough to master until you reconnect with who you are and get rid of all the stuff that's keeping you from showing up as authentically you. It's my job to dig in as a coach, to help them rediscover the person inside that is yearning to be heard, seen, and to feel like they are enough.
Courtney Elmer 37:03
This is a common experience for so many of us. I always say we're onions. We might have a sense of what the outer layer is, but we often forget who is deep down inside.
Nick Demos 37:38
I say the same thing! And I say, and sometimes peeling back those layers even makes you cry.
Courtney Elmer 37:43
Yes. In a good way! It's invaluable, and having a coach looking from the outside in accelerates your process of becoming who you are meant to be, which is as you said, is this getting back to the most authentic part, the core of who you already are, that has gotten covered up along the way. Sorta like mastering the art of storytelling with your own personal story first.
Nick Demos 38:07
Yeah. You weren't broken, you don't need to be fixed. It's not about fixing. It's about uncovering those layers of protection that we have built up — those walls over time from the old hurts and haunts and the future fears.
Courtney Elmer 38:26
100%. So bringing this all back to the art of storytelling. How do you help your clients bring who they truly are to their brand story, and to tell it in a way that helps them convert more sales and create more clients and scale their businesses? Story selling, right?
Nick Demos 38:51
Oddly, the first thing I say to them, is that it's not about you, boo. When you're marketing, and you're using story selling as part of your marketing strategy, you've got to remember that despite what most people think, your brand story is not about you. It's about your customer and their journey. Your ideal client is the hero or your heroine of your brand story. They should be front and center. You are simply their guide. You're there guiding them on their journey to that transformation they want. The most powerful brand story positioning is when you put your ideal client center stage and make it about them. That's the first step in mastering the art of storytelling, is understanding that telling your brand story is not about telling your brand story for the sake of telling it. It's about putting your ideal client into your brand story, positioning them as the hero, and you as the guide. So that's where we start. Then, people tell me, "Well, my brand story isn't all that great. Or, I can't master the art of storytelling because I'm not a good storyteller. Or, I don't have enough stories to tell. Or, I've told my brand story a million times, everyone has heard it already." And I say whoa, wait a minute. Think again!
There are so many stories in your everyday life that you can weave into your brand story, and use to connect with your ideal client in a relatable way. Think about when you go to Starbucks and you're standing in line. You're beginning to get impatient, and because that happens, you notice there's a lesson there about patience. So then mastering the art of storytelling, or story selling if you will, is simply asking yourself, "What is it that my ideal client needs to know about patience?" "How can I use this in a story I'm going to tell to help my ideal client get over a hurdle or hump that they're experiencing right now?" We have so many stories all around us that you can weave into your brand story. The misconception is that the stories you use as part of your brand story or when story selling is that they need to be big or grandiose. But they don't need to be big at all. It's the small, relatable ones that have the most impact. It's the stuff everyone is going through. When people can relate to you, that's when the know and trust factor happens. When they trust you, they feel like they know you. And people buy from people they know, like, and trust. So when it comes to mastering the art of storytelling (or really, story selling), it's about telling your brand story with your ideal client at the center -- remember, they're the hero. And also remember, your brand stories don't have to be big, or emotional. Sometimes those bigger stories actually create disconnect. It's the smaller, more relatable stuff that's going to connect. That's another key piece to keep in mind when it comes to the art of storytelling.
Courtney Elmer 42:55
I can definitely speak to that. Overcoming cancer at 25 was where my journey as an entrepreneur started. But the cancer piece is not relatable to everyone. They relate to the overwhelm, and the burnout, and the late nights and the no vacation time, but the actual pivotal moment of getting diagnosed with cancer wasn't the most relevant part of my brand story. Because guess what? I wasn't the heroine! It took me a long time to realize that, because for the longest I thought that was my brand story. I didn't begin to master the art of storytelling until I realized my heroine is my ideal client, not me. And when I did, story selling became so much easier. I was able to pull out the relatable points of my personal story (which became my brand story) and tell it in a way that my ideal client could relate to.
When we talked about my brand story, it was the little moments that I made relatable. Like taking off the bear head, and looking in the mirror. It's about making those little details relatable and interesting. Finding the parts of your brand story that are a shared experience that your ideal client can relate to as well is another key element in the art of storytelling. Story selling really boils down to first building connection through story.
Courtney Elmer 44:33
Yeah. I heard it said this way once: "Speak and write as though someone could see it in their mind, or as if they were looking at a picture. Make it that detailed."
Nick Demos 45:07
It's a balance, right? Because the other thing you can get too mired in the details. That's part of the art of storytelling also — you have to be careful not to be too flowery, either. It's this beautiful, delicate balance of speaking to your ideal client, making them the hero of your brand story, and being detailed (but not too detailed). Just remember, speak the same way your ideal client speaks. Don't overthink it. No one said you have to be a master storyteller or writer, you just have to master the art of storytelling.
You and I can have the same product, and your competitors do have the same product, but people are going to buy from me or people are going to buy from you because they're going to connect to your brand story and to your language and to how you show up. They're going to connect to that. My brand story wasn't that impressive or exciting or even wasn't even the most dramatic, but you connected to me because of how I showed up and how I told it.
Courtney Elmer 46:35
Yes. And because you danced at the end on stage. That was the cherry on top, speaking of details. You've given us such key takeaways here Nick, when it comes to mastering the art of storytelling and using your brand story to connect with and convert more of your clients and customers. For those listening, remember, story selling is not actually about selling anything. The art of storytelling is simply about connecting with your audience. It doesn't have to be these big grandiose stories. It's the simple, everyday details of your life, and lessons within them.
Nick Demos 47:25
The art of storytelling in a nutshell: simple, concise, and with feeling.
Courtney Elmer 47:33
So anyone can master the art of storytelling, and convert more customers through story selling, by using the everyday experiences of their life to connect with people.
Nick Demos 47:40
Anyone can do this. Start small. Tell a story that you don't care everyone in the world hears, including Grandma. The art of storytelling and story selling is like a muscle that you develop.
Courtney Elmer 49:20
Those proverbial baby steps.
Nick Demos 50:52
Yeah. And I think that when we say "take baby steps," we almost make it as if it's a negative thing. But when any baby begins to walk, we get so excited. We put our arms out and we applaud! So when we say honor your wins as they're coming, what we're saying is applaud your baby. I applaud those baby steps, because before a baby can walk, they fall, they get back up, they walk a few more steps, and eventually they begin walking, and then they begin running. So we need to allow ourselves the same grace, when we're learning something new, whether it be the art of storytelling, or running a business, or whatever it is in life. Applaud your baby the whole time until you're running and you no longer need the applause.
Courtney Elmer 52:56
Awesome. Our listeners have gotten some valuable takeaways and I hope for you guys listening, you're seeing your brand story in a new light and that the art of storytelling doesn't feel like a mystery anymore, but that it feels simple, doable, and easy. Nick, what else would you like to leave our listeners with today? Any final thoughts?
Nick Demos 53:22
What you said was so beautiful. How could I possibly top that? I want to say, thank you so much for having me. I love talking about the art of storytelling, and how you can use story selling in your marketing. This is a beautiful conversation. Your folks sure are so fortunate to have such a wise person to hear and learn from and listen to.
Courtney Elmer 53:52
Oh, Nick, thank you for that. Thank you for all the value that you brought to us today. And for sharing your journey and your own brand story and teaching us about the art of storytelling and story selling. I love hearing the journey that people have been on, because there's so much in it we can learn.
Nick Demos 54:29
That's truly why we tell stories. If you go back even to the origins of the art of storytelling itself, it was for the sense of belonging, sitting around the fire and telling stories. There's so many ways to tell your brand story and connect with people. So allow that vulnerability to come out. Allow yourself to be seen, be heard, because you are enough.
Courtney Elmer 54:58
Nick, where can people connect with you? Or can they look you up and come listen to you and learn how to continue mastering the art of storytelling and story selling to grow their businesses.
Nick Demos 55:12
So you can come to my website, and on Instagram and Facebook. I love a good DM and I love to chat. Clearly I love to talk. We can chat at any point about the art of storytelling, or how to incorporate story selling into your marketing, or anything.
Courtney Elmer 55:36
Yes, definitely reach out and connect with Nick to learn more about the art of storytelling and story selling in your business. Thanks again so much for being on today.
Wasn’t that awesome? Now you know why the art of storytelling is the quickest and most influential way to build instant know-like-and-trust with your audience and articulate the value in the transformation that you provide, all through remembering to make your customer the hero of your brand story. And how cool that story selling isn't really about selling at all, but about building connection with your audience, which in turn compels them to buy from you because they feel connected to you.
And check out the show notes where you’ll find out how you can connect with Nick online and learn how to continue mastering the art of storytelling and story selling, and incorporating it in your overall marketing strategy.
If you’d like to get clear, easy to use frameworks for telling your brand story in a compelling way, make sure you check out the book Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. This is a great resource for understanding the art of storytelling, identifying what your brand story is, learning how to use it to convert more of your target audience into paying clients.
If you've ever got a topic idea that you’d like to see me cover on an upcoming show, or a question you’d like to ask me about any of our programs and ways we help entrepreneurs like you become the Visionary leader your business needs to succeed, come find me on Instagram @theeffortlesslife.co . I love hearing from listeners like you!
Coming up next week we’re talking about how to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and why your voice and your message is needed now more than ever. Next week’s episode is dedicated to helping you own, embrace, and speak your truth, and overcome the fear of polarizing people so you can stand out in a crowded marketplace. Make sure you join me back here next week and until then, go live YOUR EffortLESS Life®.