Storytelling. You’ve read about it 1,001 times and it’s a buzzword you can’t get out of your head. You feel that one more mention of “story” might send you into a tizzy.
I feel ya. It’s in vogue to mention all the amazing benefits of storytelling in business. And you might be sick to death of hearing about it, but there is a reason—it’s effective and can really help your marketing efforts.
But you are sick of the hype and just want to know how to use it in your business. You simply want a few examples of how your small business can actually use the power of story as part of your marketing.
Well, read on…
Before we go any further let’s examine how most people think about storytelling applied to business.
Most business owners think about weaving a tale around their products, services, and company history. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this, but I do think it’s more important to put most of your storytelling energy into a “customer experience” mindset. That is, present a story that your audience can relate to, connect with, and that will elicit some type of emotion.
If you give them something to connect with, they’ll start to “connect” with your brand.
The fine folks at Duct Tape Marketing published a post describing Why Social Media Isn’t Working and What to Do About it. It’s an honest take on social media, presenting actionable and practical advice to your average business owner, especially when it comes to the not-so-secret “secret” about the business of storytelling…
“Here’s the thing about stories – they don’t have to relate to your product or service, they don’t even have to be about you – good stories simply have to help people enjoy or understand some aspect of who they are or aspire to be.”
Yep. “…good stories simply have to help people enjoy or understand some aspect of who they are or aspire to be.” THIS is the essence of effectively using the power of story when marketing your business.
Story helps you build a connection with your audience. And that my friends is why you hear so much about story.
Below, I’ve laid out four ways your small business can effectively use storytelling in your marketing…
Your company has an archetype. Define it and use it to your advantage.
From CPA firms to startups, every company exudes certain characteristics that can more clearly be defined through the use of archetypes. From classic movies to Greek mythology, comparable characters continually appear. If you take a classic archetype—regular guy/girl, warrior, creator, etc.—and use it to help brand your business, your customers will more clearly understand what you’re about.
Take a quick look at Carol Pearson’s site on archetypal branding to get a better understanding of the classic characters I’m describing.
For your story to be effective, you need a rock-solid framework.
Your story needs structure to work. In the following post from Social Media Examiner, Upasna Kakroo describes 5 ways your business can use storytelling in social media marketing. Her first step is about understanding and using story structure, using Freytag’s Pyramid as an example.
Certain archetypes are always present in stories. And common patterns are always appear in a classic story framework. Work to define your company’s archetype(s) then utilize a framework to start building a narrative.
In this post, Gini Dietrich writes why it’s important to think about your brand’s story like you would a novel.
The lesson? Your story needs structure to work.
Tell your customers Why you are in business.
In Fort Collin’s, Colorado, there’s a little coffee shop called Bindle Coffee. And Bindle’s about page tells delivers a concise and interesting little story people can relate to.
Here is what I believe: Potential customers are very interested in why you do what you do. They’re not quite as interested in what you do. You want tasty coffee delivered with friendly service but you might go to a place because you love what they are about, right?
I wrote a series of posts titled “6 Steps to Bring Your Brand to Life”. In the posts, I detail how your small business can start to think a little bit more like Bindle Coffee. If you’d like to read through this series, start here.
If you want to tell the world why you are in business start answering questions like the following…
What do you stand for and how do you see the world around you?
Why exactly is your business unique?
What do your customers value about your ideology?
Embrace social media.
When it comes to a small biz effectively using storytelling via social, I’ll go right back to that little Colorado coffee shop…
Take a look at this Facebook post from Bindle Coffee where they share a story about a local raffle and fundraising effort. Then take a look at their Facebook page. Scroll through the posts to see how they develop a variety of narratives to engage their fans. If you go back to their about page and learn more about their essence, you’ll see a certain cohesiveness that makes it super easy for their customers to love them.
Today, ponder how you might use social media—to build buzz around a workshop, charity event, or detail how your business gets involved within your community. What is an archetype or mix of archetypes that helps describe your business? How can you reveal your Why and structure a continuing story around it? And what are the platforms you can use to present it?
You do have a story to tell and it can and will help your business.
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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