Beyond Your Messaging- What’s Your Story?
The most frequent question I get in the first week of my Digital Storytelling class is “why do I have to learn how to tell a story?” This is normally followed by, “I want to learn about marketing, not storytelling” or “I want to learn about SEO, I don’t need storytelling” or my personal favorite, “I don’t need to learn how to tell a story, I need to get the word out about my company to my customers.”
My answer? The basic foundation of all marketing is messaging. The basic foundation of engaging marketing that leads to customer recognition, conversion, and loyalty is storytelling; specifically “brand storytelling.”
Most of the larger companies have this figured out. If you consider the first five brands that come to your mind, you will probably have a list of five large brands with great and consistent brand stories that deliver that honed message over a number of media channels. You can probably tell me the basics of each of their brand stories, even if you have never thought about this concept before. This is not an accident.
These companies invest many hours, dollars, and a lot of brainpower into creating stories that communicate the personality, values, and experience of their brand, based on an understanding of the personality, values, and experience of their customers. They carefully and purposefully create brand stories that connect their products and services with their target demographic and communicate what that group of people wants and needs to hear. This is storytelling at its finest. It involves storylines, images, and music that people seem to never forget.
If you are thinking, “Yes, but they have huge resources for those kinds of things and I don’t,” I would like to answer that it doesn’t take a giant budget to create a brand story that connects with your audience. The biggest mistake businesses make is to equate brand storytelling with a list of products, services, and prices. That is great information, but normally there are many other companies with basically the same products, services, and prices that you have. What sets you apart from your competitors in the eyes of your customer base is your brand story, which establishes a unique identity for you.
It gives your customers an entity to relate to. People still like to buy from “people.” Even though your brand story does not magically change your company into a person, it does create an entity that a customer can relate to. This sets you apart from the others for conversions where the customers experience the brand story for themselves.
Here’s how it works:
Someone sees the story you have created over and over again. They begin recognizing your brand story and connecting it to your products and services. When it comes time to buy, they remember your story, and choose to purchase from you. A conversion takes place, and they experience your story for themselves. Once that happens, when they encounter your brand story again, they remember experiencing it. That’s where the loyalty comes in.
So where do you start?
Think about how you would describe what makes your company great in the eyes of your customers:
- Why does a customer choose you?
- Is it because you are family-owned and take personal pride in your work?
- Is it because you have won customer service awards?
- Do you know your customers by name?
- Do you have the finest quality, best precision, or most reliable products?
- Do you guarantee your work?
These are some general questions to get started, but to really create a brand story you want to dig deeper:
- What is the personality of your company?
- Is your store “fun,” “classy” or “chic?”
- What does the company value?
- Are you “fresh and new,” “on the cutting edge,” or “reliable with over 25 years of experience?”
Again, why does a customer choose you? Have you asked them? Do. Answering these types of questions should give you a starting point for your brand story. Once you get a solid story started and tell it consistently when you communicate with your target demographic, you are on your way to creating an engaging connection with your customers that will set you apart from the others.
So . . . what’s your story?
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