The Power of Story to Sell Your Services

Heidi Hau Concert Pianist being interviewed by Ron Dawson.
Photo by Irvin Tyan

I’ve recently had the pleasure to create a profile video for a good friend who just happens to be a world-class concert pianist at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her name is Heidi Hau (her married name is Tyan, but she uses her maiden name Hau for her business). I originally met Heidi and her husband Irvin when I shot their wedding almost five years ago. Since then they have become good friends. Besides sharing a love for ballroom dance, I also found out later she was a concert pianist. Not just local neighborhood “recitals,” but major metropolitan concert halls around the world. As the video below will clearly indicate, she is a phenomenal artist. But frankly, there are a lot of phenomenal pianists around the world. I was intrigued to find out what it is Heidi does that sets her apart…

She tells stories.

Most musicians when they get up to perform will come on stage, bow, rock da house, bow, then leave. Of course, that is enough. But Heidi takes it one step further. She engages her audience. She tells a story.  A story about the music, the composer, the time the composer lived, etc. She does it because it was instilled in her from a child. But, it’s really quite brilliant from a business perspective. Telling stories does a few things:

  1. It engages the audience: an engaged audience is one that will be emotionally invested in the performance. They care more about what they’re hearing because they have a personal context now.
  2. It’s memorable: audiences will be more apt to remember Heidi’s performance, not just because her piano playing was so fantastic, but because the stories she tells will linger along with the music long after the audience has gone home.
  3. It sets her apart: if telling these stories is something no other (or very few) other musicians do, this will set her apart from the crowd.
  4. It gives them more: you get doubly entertained when you attend a Heidi Hau concert performance, getting more for your money.
  5. It endears Heidi to her audience: the audience doesn’t just get to know about the composer, they get to know Heidi. She becomes more than just a “concert pianist.” She becomes a friend.

Since man has walked this earth, the power of story has been used to pass along tradition, to relay history, to entertain, to inform, and to inspire. Those in business that tell the best stories will quite often be the most successful. Whenever I produce a promo film for a client, I’m always looking for the story.

When you present your business to your prospects, what story are you telling? Are you telling the same story every other person is telling (e.g. “I started this studio because I just love taking pictures, etc.”). Or, are you giving them something they can really sink their teeth into? Something that will endear them to you, and get them to know who you really are. Your unique self is something no one else can offer.

What’s your story?

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Some “making of” fun facts:

There is no editing trickery done to speed up Heidi’s fingers. She really is playing that fast. I cranked up the shutter speed while filmming for two reasons: first, to highlight the speed of her fingers (otherwise they’d look like a blur); and second, to make her hands look kind of like “tarantulas” dancing on the keys.

4 thoughts on “The Power of Story to Sell Your Services

  1. Great advice. I was particularly drawn in by her passion. Her story became even more compelling because was seemed so excited to share it. A little something for me to remember next time I meet with clients (prospective or current) … make it personal, stray away from generic resume-type descriptions of your work and don’t be afraid to show your passion.

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