I recently worked with a small business client. She asked me, how can my business stand out? How can my content cut through and generate more sales?
“Well, darling” I purred. “You tell stories.”
Honest stories. Relatable stories. Inspiring stories. Stories that build audiences. Stories that lure them, that hook them, that leave them hungrier for more. You create an insatiable appetite for your story.
You don’t want to sit in your business dingy every day without any cheese or wine, and chill… bored… tired… exhausted… sunburnt…hopeless… helpless… for 12 hours straight, your hook and sinker submerged in the water, waiting. Waiting. Waiting for an unsuspecting fishy to swim by and take a bite.
What. A. Waste. Of. Your. Time.
What Makes a Story Engaging?
Before you spend any time crafting your content – you need to understand the basics.
The problem you’re solving
Whose problem you're solving
How you’re solving it
Your business purpose / end goal
Your personal and business values
Your content objective, and
It's called relevance.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here – I’ve written about it all before. So, I encourage you to check out my old blog posts to get up to speed.
Having these specific details front of mind ensures you’re baiting your content hook with delicious prawn heads and not flimsy, self-destructing cardboard. You must be sharing stories that your audience relates to, that identify the problems they face, that empathise with them, that demonstrate you have the solution.
And, it must all align with your narrative. Who you are. Why you're here. What makes you human.
Understand Your Narrative
Do you understand your purpose and your values and the messages you’re trying to communicate?
If you're promoting great customer service – well, why is it great? What specifically makes what you do, great?
Is it a barista coffee upon arrival at your office?
A thank you card and gift posted to your clients after project completion?
An all-nighter to get to the bottom of a problem (even if you “aren’t really required to”)?
For the services you provide, why should I choose you and not your competitor?
Did your recent email marketing service increase a client’s conversion rate by 45%?
Did you just turn a technically-loaded white paper into a viral blog?
Did you just turn a $1,000 tax payment into a $3,000 tax return?
How did your client / customer feel when you returned this result?
If your business is surviving, it’s because you’re doing something right. You might be doing it spectacularly. Which means, you have a story bank – a vault of customer experiences, sales wins, and business successes you can turn into inspiring business stories.
Find Your stories
Customer profiles, testimonials, service stories
The truth of it is, 88 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (BrightLocal). That’s a whopper. I speak from experience when I say, before I part with my hard-earned cash, I always search that business online first. Don’t you?
Are they legitimate? Is there value for money? What can I expect? Can I work with these people? What are they like?
If you don’t already, you must ask your customers for feedback. Ask for testimonials. Encourage them to share their experiences with your service. Why did they hire you? What were they expecting? What did they get?
If they’re the perfect representative of your target audience – you'll find more people relate to their story and their motivations to work with you, too. Tenfold. Delectable prawn heads, right there.
Remember, positive feedback is rare! People are more willing to jump online and leave a scathing review than they are a positive one - so, make it easy and ask them :)
Employee profiles, business, and service stories
What's going on 'behind the scenes'?
A business is built by its people. If you have an employee (this includes you) kicking goals, being courageous, providing outstanding service to your customers – these are stories that need to be told.
If you operate in an industry or environment where most people don’t understand what you do, how you do it, or why, then profile your team and shed some light.
What does a copywriter do? What’s her process? How does she know what to write? Who does she work with? What's a typical day?
Start documenting your customer and employee stories – use real people; real faces, video, interviews, ‘in-action’ shots – and, just watch your engagement grow.
Metaphors & Anecdotes - Another reason why I love them
Metaphors are a simple way to explain a complex situation, thoughts, and behaviours. By likening your situation / service / message to something else commonly experienced by your audience, you’re connecting them to your story by proxy.
Your audience will immediately understand how they should feel or what they should think because they’ve experienced something similar. So, use metaphors and personal anecdotes to enhance your impact.
You Don’t Need to Create – Start Documenting Instead
Before you head off on your storytelling adventure – please:
1. Understand your purpose, your audience, and your values.
Identify your business personality and what you are / want to be known for. Keep this front of mind for everything you do so you present a consistent brand experience and relevant messaging.
2. Move away from the idea of ‘creating’ content.
Storytelling is a natural process. You’re not manufacturing stories, you’re retelling them based on real-life experiences. It’s more ‘documenting’ than it is creation. It becomes more intentional and it’s less ‘hard work’.
3. Humanise your brand and your service experience.
People will connect with you. With your personality, your purpose, and your values. They will appreciate and value your content more.
4. Remember to share!
One customer experience 'story' can be retold as a case study in your business blog; a photo taken and shared on Instagram; made into a video testimonial; discussed during your podcast. Make the most and re-purpose it to suit different platforms. Don't let your beautiful stories go to waste.
Eventually – you'll build an experience people want to sign up for. You will sink your fishies. In an eighth of the time. With ample wine and cheese to sustain you through. #lifegoals, right?
Have you got a story you want to share? I can help you tell it. Whether you want to infuse storytelling in your blogs or you’re after a comprehensive business story strategy – we can make it happen. Hit me up for coffee and a chat!