“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.
10 steps to start telling your story right now.
Why do businesses and so many marketers continue to ignore the fact that customers are human and like a good story?
Do you think I’m stretching it a little when I suggest that your customers, or prospects (people), want to see, hear and understand the real you? They want to know your story. I don’t believe that they want to hear you broadcast how good you are or how much they need your product / service. Do you know why? Because you are not talking to them in a natural way and they see no value for themselves, in your corporate blurb.
I alluded to this in a previous post, but I believe that it is worth reiterating here. Treating people as humans is a business requirement and not just a casual option. In fact have you noticed that your colleagues, your employees and even your online followers are all human also? Not only that, but they all have one other thing in common, they want brands to relate to them in an interesting way that brings them benefit.
The way that businesses can do this is quite simple to understand but a little bit harder to put in place. Our tips and timesavers below will outline some ways that you can start to make your brand more human with storytelling.
Once upon a time ……
It is true that for brands to break through the ‘noise’ today, they need to be more interesting and relevant. I read recently that ‘friend of mine’ awareness is replacing the traditional marketing measurement of ‘top of mind’ awareness. This reinforces the power of word-of-mouth and also the way that purchasing decisions are being influenced. A friend’s advice is an emotional one and usually acted upon. So if brands are to make any inroads into building relationships with customers, they must connect with people in the way that a friend might – through emotion.
The main way of doing this is by telling a story.
‘Once upon a time ….’ is one of the most emotionally charged string of words, ever. From when we were babies, we always tuned into what comes next after those magical words. Brands have to start telling and stop selling. People in general want to know more about you but will only listen if it is interesting and relevant, to them. How to achieve this from a business point of view, is by revealing a story theme within the guidelines of a clear communication strategy.
Think about it, a brand is really an amalgamation of stories anyway. The ideal would be for you to pull these stories together into a theme and proactively manage them. Of course, if you don’t tell your story, others will and it may not be a positive version.
Topics you could source internally might include:
- the added value offered by your brand,
- various audience experiences,
- your employees,
- the rationale behind your identity and your image,
- what others say about you.
In fact, why not allow your stories ‘fit in’ with those of other people. Even better – become a hub for the sharing of ideas and conversations. Give people a face, a voice, a platform to be heard.
When discussing this point with some of O’C&K’s clients, they often say “but we don’t have a story to tell, that’s why we advertise”. Our answer is that every brand has a specific story to tell which should be told because it is the one thing that your competitors cannot replicate. And from a sales point of view, people connect with stories not products.
For instance, the original iPhone was sold as a life changer about how people could connect rather than a pocket computer. What Apple Inc. did was to make the customer (you and me) the hero of their story. Whatever you might think of Apple they definitely changed our lives with the smartphone.
If you decide to start telling your story however, it must be your authentic story. Not some aspirational place where you want to be. Let people know who you are – across all communication, online and offline. Be consistent and constantly thinking about ways that you can add value to your customers.
Brands that I am interested in are ones that I learn from, I laugh with or I love what they do for others. Of course business values are great but I find that they are all similar – have a look at a company’s values page on the next few websites that you visit and you’ll see what I mean.
To me, it’s kind of obvious that businesses need to connect more with people through personal values which means getting emotional, however strange that may sound. I guess social media can help us in this regard. It gives us the opportunity to talk directly to, or listen to, customers. Even a simple ‘thank you’ on twitter can go a long way. As I have always said to sponsees – ‘try to over- deliver on a personal level with a sponsor’. In that way renewal of a sponsorship contract is more probable, nine times out of ten. It’s all about the personal touch.
Tips and Timesavers.
The real trick here is not to focus on your own story, your own campaign, new services or your achievements. Talk about why people’s lives will be improved as you strive to achieve your vision, not how you’re going about it. Tell stories that make people laugh, make them sad or make them mad.
Here are some tips to start you on your journey:
- Brainstorm with your team. – It is important that you know who and what you are before you can start connecting with your audiences. What is your culture?
- Determine your audience. – ID, research and prioritise your top 2/3 audiences. What different requirements have they and what tactics are required for you to satisfy them.
- Focus on the relationship that you want to build. – Be a human and have a personality.
- Don’t interrupt your audience. – Speak in their language and be part of their story.
- Listen to their story and provide value. – Your story must be of benefit to them in some way.
- Get your team to be social. – Everybody on your team is a potential curator of stories.
- Get your audience on board. – By connecting with their emotions they will buy into your story.
- Leverage different mediums. – Find out where your audiences are and go ‘play’ there.
- Be human all the time. – Show pictures of you and your team – doing ordinary stuff.
- Plan it. – Have an editorial calendar, a social media policy and measure impacts.
Telling your story – a science or an art?
If you don’t see yourself as a storyteller, an external professional can help you to encapsulate your company’s story. The downside of not doing this is that your communication with people is going to be unfocused and less effective. Also, don’t waste time trying to set-up multiple channels of communication because, once you have determined your audience, the channels will select themselves.
Adam Weinroth, CMO, OneSpot has provided us with an interesting infographic on the science of storytelling.
The human element of storytelling is to ensure that your team and your audience are sharing compelling content. If that content is aligned to your brand promise and vision, it will be relevant and useful to all parties.
By the way, don’t allow the thought of writing the content to put you off – you can outsource this element also. The important thing is that your internal team is operating like a newsroom and is focused on your communication strategies.
Having a human brand means that you keep in mind that your customers and employees are human too. Humans like stories and are always looking for value in them. That value may be educational, entertaining or simply an alignment with their beliefs. Go on, tell us, what’s your story?
If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page. Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers. Jim – O’C&K