Use “Backstory” To Stand Out From Competition

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[A 3:43-minute read according to The Hemingway App. Crafted with love in San Diego, CA. Originally published on November 13, 2019. Updated on January 16, 2020]

I don’t know when it happened, but there’s a niche industry of people who buy socks.

And it’s pretty neat.

  • Toe socks.
  • Athletic socks.
  • Superhero socks.
  • Holiday socks.
  • Birthday socks.
  • Chicago White Sox.
  • Socks on hands (not really).

So when a friend decided to start a sock business. I got excited.

I could get gifts that everyone likes while supporting a homie in the process.

Too bad his business tanked before it got started.

Designs are a given, but without a differentiator that his competitors couldn’t copy, his business downgraded to a commodity. He slashed prices until there was barely any room for profit.

The Problem

We all wanna stand out from the competition.

Of course. Who’d wanna be a copycat like the rest of ’em?

But in the beginning, we’re told to copy established companies because they’ve figured out the “right way” to do things.



Stand out from the competition by copying them?

Little oxymoron-ic, ain’t it?

I agree with the concept of “modeling” proven leaders. But it ain’t exactly easy when our competitors have:

  • Bigger teams
  • Bigger budgets
  • More experience

So what do you do?

The Solution

Start with your backstory.

When you do this right, people will:

  • Buy into you emotionally (which is the main driver behind every transaction).
  • Feel comfortable in making a purchase.
  • Stick around longer as customers.

Those are all things we want, right?

Stories organize info into an easy-to-follow, start-to-finish narrative.

And when something’s easy to understand, the brain doesn’t have to try hard to pay attention.

By the way, you don’t have to be a pro storyteller to stand out from the competition. This isn’t about writing novels.

It’s about walking people through the journey of how & why you got started in business in the first place.

4 Questions To Build A Rapport-Building Backstory

Think back to when you started your business and ask yourself:

  1. What problems were you facing?
  2. What prompted you to start the business?
  3. What did you do to solve the problem?
  4. What mission drives you?

Something drove you to start a project that demands an insane amount of time and effort.

So be honest.

No need to be creative here.


Here’s Colonel Sanders’ backstory. Paraphrased, of course…

1. What problem was he facing? 

Colonel Sanders loved fried chicken.

His problem was finding a recipe that satisfied flavor hounds while also being efficient for restaurants to cook & sell at a profit.

Because back then, fried chicken wasn’t easy to prepare as it is today.

2. What prompted him to start KFC? 

The Colonel did it.

He had his recipe of spices and a way of cooking that cut-down prep times (pressure cooking). Both were a hit with diners.

But the real problems came when a highway pulled traffic away from his restaurant.

Money dried up. He depleted his savings. And he’d sleep in his car while driving cross-country to sell his formula.

3. How’d he solve this problem? 

He discovered the franchise model and applied it to his business.

As the franchise model took off and as more people had a taste of southern-style chicken, KFC grew to be one of the first fast-food chains to go global.

4. What’s the mission? 

To deliver “finger-lickin’ good” chicken!

The Aftermath

Interesting, right?

KFC’s not just fast-food anymore.

It’s a man’s determination to spread happiness with his secret recipe for finger-lickin’ food.

When you humanize your business, you stand out from the competition because people relate to your story.

Here’s one last example to give you clarity on how to tell your own.

Remember the 4 questions and notice how they’re weaved into the narrative:

For more than 10 years, my business was a rollercoaster.

I chased tactics. Spent tens of thousands of dollars on marketing. And was constantly overwhelmed because I was doing the work myself.

My wake-up call came when the young CEO of a multi-million dollar company blamed my mindset. Ouch. That stung but it’s what I needed. I got clear on who I was serving then reset with a new strategy built around my purpose.

Things have changed ever since. I’ve made over 6-figures. I’ve work with clients from all over the world. And I have 100% control over when and where I hustle.

My mission is to save my fellow hustlers from going down the same path I did. To keep them safe from gurus and tactics because realizing that fundamentals matter the most shouldn’t take more than a decade.

– Me, Jay Magpantay

See how un-complicated this is? 

The goal isn’t to get people to rally behind a righteous cause.

It’s to get people to understand what drives you. Know who you are. And see you differently from a business that blends in with the rest of ’em.

SIDE NOTE: The funny thing about business is that since everyone buys, they automatically think they know how to sell.

That’s why so many people skip the fundamentals. They think they’re pro before start as amateurs.

Ponder the 4 questions and stitch together your answers to form your backstory.

Build it then stash it because they’ll be plenty of chances to use it.

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