As you’re getting ready for #SmallBusinessSaturday, I’ve got a hot tip for you:
Look beyond sales when it comes to your marketing plan.
“Aren’t sales the reason why I need a marketing plan?” you might be asking yourself. And you’re not totally wrong.
But in a world where “branding” is the buzz word du jour, I’m going to encourage you to broaden your vision.
Today’s marketing is all about customer engagement. About making them feel welcome in your business family — whether you’re actually a family business, a small team, or a solopreneur.
People want to feel the warm and fuzzies about the businesses they choose to support. And these days, support comes in many shapes and forms.
So, what can you do to truly engage with your target demographic, and what kind of connections can you create? It’s all in how you use storytelling to talk about your business. Let’s dive in by defining this:
Storytelling: More Than Just Your History
People love a good story.
In fact, storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions. Before written language was invented, we created spoken narratives as a way to spread knowledge and record our history.
And this passion for storytelling lives on; people find comfort in good stories and feel connected to each other by them.
When it comes to your business, your story is more than just what you write about yourself — It’s indicated by your values and your mission. It’s why you’re doing what you’re doing, which shows you stand out from your competition.
It’s how you resonate with your audience.
Business Storytelling Creates Emotional Connections
This leads to the most important part of business storytelling: authenticity. Assuming your audience won’t recognize when you just say what they want to hear is a recipe for disaster. By being genuine, you show readers (and potential clients) that you believe in their good judgement and intellect.
And when a potential client sees that, it builds instant trust and help them see you as their ally, someone with their best interests at heart.
When done well, business storytelling creates emotional connections, which go much deeper than catchy slogans or statistics.
Emotion is the difference between a Levi’s ad that will forever live in the minds of Millennials and their parents and the millions of forgettable ads you encounter every day.
How to Tell a Compelling Story
I mentioned this before but it’s the most important part of business storytelling so it bears repeating: Sharing your WHY is what connects people to you. Here’s a handy graphic to remember, called the Golden Circle model of marketing:
Most companies make the mistake of starting with the WHAT and eventually working their way back to the WHY. But according to this model, you start with your WHY — this is the focal point of every piece of content you create — and then you move into the HOW and the WHAT. To be clear, this is how the terms are defined:
- WHY: Why are you doing what you’re doing?
- HOW: How will this help your potential customers?
- WHAT: What is it you’re offering?
By using an inward-out strategy in your marketing materials, you’re crafting a story that’s more personal, and showing that creating those personal bonds is more important to you than your bottom line. That’s something your audience will connect with.
When creating content that’s genuinely engaging, there are plenty of technical writing tips to follow. But it’s also important to take into consideration the characters of your story. In this case, it’s your potential clients. What do they look like? How to they act, and what are their problems and desires?
Without getting into too much technical mumbo jumbo, this is called a buyer persona, which refers to your business’s target demographic. By researching and thinking through what your customers are like and what drives them, you can more closely align your stories with theirs.
When clients see themselves as the main characters of your stories, that’s where the magic happens.
Success Exists Beyond the Dollar Signs
There is no magic formula to instant sales. If there was, we’d all be rich by now, right?
But once you start creating authentic, relatable content, you’ll also start seeing your audience interact with your business in new and exciting ways.
Increased engagement on your social media channels and in your email inbox, increased traffic on your website, more eyes on your business — These are all signs of success.
And these are things that will lead to increased sales, which won’t happen overnight.
Practice making storytelling second nature to you, so you do it automatically in everything you create. And practice patience, too; as with blogging, you’ll see the results of your hard work over time.