Whether we realise it or not, storytelling is an underlying piece of almost everything you do with your business - whether you’re building your brand, closing a sale, or just telling a friend why you started out on your own in the first place!
Stories are how we connect and relate to people; we find common ground with strangers through sharing stories of who we are and experiences we’ve had. It’s obvious in our personal lives: it’s why we gravitate towards certain people in the office and not others; it’s what makes those long elevator silences slightly less awkward.
Mastering the storyteller within us is key to living our best life. If we can do that well, then delivering a powerful message that resonates with our audience is easy.
It’s not surprising then that stories are the key factor in getting new clients and then building brand loyalty for your business, too. In 2018, the average person was exposed to about 5,000 ads per day! We’re so over-exposed to ads that as a society we don’t even notice them anymore, so its more important than ever to find a way to connect with your customers on a deeper level.
What we do notice and connect with, though, is a good story. Here’s how they’ve become the Secret Sauce to building your business and how you can connect to your customers using your story.
The story that guides you.
Naturally, your story starts with you - but not just the one you tell others, the one you tell yourself, too. “The most important and powerful story we will ever tell is the story we tell ourselves,” says Lana Dingwall, local business coach and Gem Conference speaker. “That story determines what we feel we can and can’t do, deserve and don’t deserve, how successful or not our business will be. Mastering the storyteller within us is key to living our best life. If we can do that well, then delivering a powerful message that resonates with our audience is easy.
Developing a positive self-talk language is the foundation to how you will view the world and your own success in it, and how you tell your own story.
1. What's your unique story that can weave into your branding (your secret sauce)?
2. How are you going to communicate your story to your audience?
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Your first step in business is figuring out what story lies in front of you - and believing that it’s true.
The story that guides your business.
Because of the sensory-overload we have when it comes to advertising, companies can no longer throw a logo on something and call it smart marketing. People want to build that personal connection not just with other people, but with the companies they support as well. It’s important for your business to have a story, or brand, that connects with a key demographic and then stick to that story (you can’t please everyone, much like in real life). Your business’s brand is what separates you from your competitors (think Starbucks vs. Tim Hortons; Nike vs. Lululemon).
“Your story is your unique value proposition. No one is you, and no one is your brand,” explains Amanda Cockburn. “Define what you want your business to feel like, and use your story to define the branding to communicate that through language and images.”
Amanda Aerin does exactly that to connect to her ideal customers- “My brand story is focused on offering a service that will enrich our clients’ lives through beauty, organization, and personalization. I know these factors to be key to a successful project outcome because I myself use these tools to create serenity and happiness in my home,” she says. “These tools work at any budget level, and I keep these values in mind in order to serve our clients to the best of my ability. Because I can relate on a personal level, my ability to connect my brand to our customers is emphasized. I live my brand daily, and serve my clients through sharing the happiness my lifestyle brand brings to others.”
1. Do monthly check-ins to make sure your branding is staying true to your story.
2. Develop a style guide that you can send to potential partners and media to ensure that they are using the correct verbiage and branding when talking about your brand and your story.
Using stories to connect with clients.
Once you’re clear on the stories that guide you and your business, start using those to connect with your audience. Talk to your potential customers the same way you talk to your friends and family, and your business will build authentic relationships, earn trust, and develop brand loyalty with those who have similar experiences.
Show your vulnerability and be authentic: “Everyone's story is different. That's what makes us so unique. My story, like many others, has its ups and downs. Truthfully, the down times are what has allowed me to gain greater insight in to what fulfills me as a person,” says Amanda Aerin. “It is certainly easy to learn what you don't like when things go sideways! I have been divorced, a single mother, had health issues, and managed through - although sometimes by a thread. I'm no different than other women who are managing through all this now, and so, my relatability becomes my strength.”
Know what values are important to your customers: "Unless you know your customers and what is important to them, you wont be able to connect your story to them in a meaningful way" says Amanda Cockburn. "If you don't understand whats important you'll just be throwing out information and hoping that it sticks. To be successful your branding and communication needs to be much more strategic than that".
“While we all have unique stories to tell, the truth is that the themes are often similar. We can all relate to having common struggles, challenges, fears, pain points. Guaranteed, your fears overlap with your customers”, explains Kena Paranjape. “Tap into that common fear and you've made a real connection."
Social Media as the tool.
Facebook was born 15 years ago, and changed the way we communicate, first personally, but then as businesses as well.
“Your customers want to know more about you, about your story, (the) behind the scenes,” agrees Nora Pucci. “The consumer’s desire to know more about the company]is something you can leverage as a small business.”
“Content marketing has really been taken to the next level with the growth of social media,” agrees Nikki Gillingham. “The ability businesses have now to share their brand story, not just with the local market, but with people across the world (and virtually for free) has really changed the way marketing happens. Instead of pushing ads in peoples’ faces, hoping to be noticed, companies are honing in on their values and connecting with people who share those same values - no matter where they live in the world. Those people then develop a relationship with the brand through the stories they share on social media. They build trust in the company, and eventually choose to purchase a product or service, sign up for a newsletter, or subscribe to a podcast - whatever it is the company is selling.”
Storytelling has really become a critical part of every aspect of business, whether we realise it or not. Even if you’re a B2B business, remember that there’s a human making the decisions for the business you’re trying to sell to. Humans rely on emotions to make decisions, and stories evoke emotions. Rise above the noise all of those ads create; if you start looking at your marketing initiatives with a storytelling lens instead of an advertising one, you’ll have a better chance at winning market share - and keeping it.
1. Make sure your instragram has the same look and feel (same colours, filters, fonts etc).
2. Have a strong hashtag strategy that you use to connect to new audiences.
3. Share information that is relevant to what is important to your audience.