If you want someone to buy from you, you must first earn their trust.
To trust you they have to first know and like you.
So, how do you get them to like, know, and trust you? By telling an ongoing story that speaks directly to them and provides a continual stream of information that will help them.
Effectively telling a story is one of the ways you turn curious prospects into happy customers.
Telling your ongoing story makes it way easier for prospects to find you, get to like, know and trust you, and then buy from you.
You might be thinking, this is great but I’m not a writer, know zero about creating a story, and have no idea how to start.
Well, Dear Business Owner, that is precisely why you are reading this post—to learn how to start crafting a story that will become a part of your marketing machine. A consistent, informative, and helpful narrative that teaches your ideal customers and gets them to like, know, and trust you.
So, where do you start?
I think it’s important to first understand my Three Rules of Small Business Storytelling.
You are ready and willing to learn, right? Good, let’s dive in…
1. My first rule of small business storytelling—focus on your customer’s top problems and write about them.
Simple, right? Yes it is, but many businesses don’t focus on writing like this. They would rather market than educate and trust me, that is the wrong way to tell a brand story.
The word story can be intimidating because you start thinking about novels, movies, and TV shows. Well, I’m here to tell you that brand story shouldn’t be the least bit intimidating and your story certainly doesn’t have to reach the level of screen play or mini-novel. You my friend simply have to educate.
So, start thinking about your customer’s top problems. What bugs them? What do they need? What can they learn that will make their experience with you better?
Think about the top questions any customer or prospect would ask and start writing out answers to those questions.
You’re not in this to win a Pulitzer Prize.
You don’t have to be a writer gifted in prose.
You do need to create a consistent, engaging narrative, written to help.
In other words, don’t write about your business, but do write as if you’re talking to one person in your audience that needs advice from an expert.
That my friend is all you have to do.
Why is this the first rule of small business storytelling? Simple. Your potential client is on a very basic journey—a mission to solve a problem or set of problems.
And that is why you need to write content to teach and guide them.
If you’re a CPA, write about effective tax planning, how business owners can set goals to grow their business, what forms need to be filed, and what questions they should be asking a CPA before they hire one, etc.
If you’re a chiropractor, write about the difference between a chiropractor and physical therapist, tell them how to be a savvy chiropractic patient, or write about your opinion on stretching, yoga, meditation.
The story you tell is an ongoing one built to help them solve things. While doing this you create a bond with them and stay top of mind.
Staying top of mind, and getting them to like, know, and trust you, earns you the right to sell.
2. My second rule of small business storytelling—build a continual story around these problems.
Your prospect’s pain is the foundation of your ongoing narrative, whether that’s a series of blog posts, podcasts, videos, or all three.
Just work to teach them, inspire them, and motivate them.
You are a teacher instructing them so they can do things like realize their full potential, do better than their competition, or move the needle in their business.
Think about all you can do to help them achieve success on some level. And make it consistent.
Let’s use blogging as an example. If you blog, work to make it a habit and create some structure around the ongoing story you’re delivering.
As I wrote in Step 7 to Small Business Marketing Success–You Must Live By the Calendar. A good practice is to pick one theme for each month and create a 12 month calendar around 12 monthly content themes.
This is a great way to build a systematic and effective approach to content marketing that works. Focus on the type of questions your clients usually ask. Create keyword titles around these questions and your answers. These are the titles of your blog posts.
After you do that, write out monthly themes. In Step 7 to Small Business Marketing Success–You Must Live By the Calendar, I wrote out my monthly themes. Here they are…
Month #1: Brand development & strategy
Month #2: Marketing strategy
Month #3: Content development & story
Month #4: Creating an online platform
Month #5: Building an online presence
Month #6: Social media marketing and other online assets
Month #7: Online optimization
Month #8: Outreach and lead generation
Month #9: Lead conversion
Month #10: Typical marketing challenges and how to overcome them
Month #11: Tracking, metrics, goals
Month #12: Long-term planning and telling your organization’s ongoing story
3. My third rule of small business storytelling—treat your readers like rock stars.
Yep, they my friend are your heroes, so work to publish content built to help them on their way.
And kinda, sorta worship these folks. They might become great paying clients who help put food on your table.
I’m assuming you want them to like you, come back to you, and tell people about what you do. If so, it’s time to treat your customers like the heroes they are. That is #3 in a nutshell.
Now let’s review the 3 rules of small business storytelling…
Rule #1—focus on your customer’s top problems and write about them.
Tell a better story than your competition not by talking about your business but by helping your customers.
You need them to trust you. Trust takes a little time and requires you to offer something helpful in return. The foundation of your epic content is this—educational material. Stop playing marketer and become a teacher.
Rule #2—build a continual story around your prospect’s problems.
Rewarding relationships take time. They require focus, reciprocation, and honesty. If you want your clients to like, know, and trust you, you have to be in it for the long-term.
Find their pain points and teach them how to vanquish these pains, continually.
Do this by paying attention. Listen to your customers and write out a list of their top questions. Get started on your content marketing journey by asking questions.
Be the customer; dial into their world, figure out how you can help make it better for them and continue to pump out content with this focus.
If you do this on a consistent basis your writing will get better, they will come to like, know, and trust you, and as a result—if you stay in the game—your business will probably grow as a result.
Remember, you’re the expert. Listen to your audience, keep thinking about their questions, then proudly display your knowledge in the form of helpful content.
Rule #3—treat your readers like rock stars.
If you improve their world, they will keep coming back and transform your world.
You might remember the movie “The Matrix?” It’s a relatively modern version of the “Hero’s Journey.”
This journey is a familiar storyline you see all the time. In the case of “The Matrix” it’s about our protagonist Neo and his journey from zero to hero.
You don’t have to go this grand, but here is what you have to do—think about your potential customers as a bunch of little Neos, each on a journey.
You’r not the protagonist, you’re simply a teacher. The teacher in this particular movie was Morpheus. Remember him… “This is your last chance, after this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Yeah, that guy.
We’re not going that deep, but you now get the picture, right?
This story thing isn’t about you and your business. It is about your expertise, but ultimately it’s about your customer.
You’re story is based on your role as the seasoned expert who shows them the way.
Do you want to bring your brand to life? Taking a few minutes to complete our brand audit will help you think about your current marketing efforts and what might need to change. It will also help me suggest several ways to improve your branding and marketing now: Brand audit.
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