Create --------> Captivate --------> Capture --------> Connect --------> Convert --------> Collect --------> Celebrate!
Storytelling can do two things - it can help you to create the story of your brand, and secondly, it can help you to update, renew and spice up an existing brand. We're going to focus on the second aspect. You've put it in the hard yards and your business is up and running. Within this process is the story of how your business came to life. No doubt at some stage you have put pen to paper and written out how that came to be. It probably forms the basis of the "About Us"section on your business website. From there on the content you've shared has been all about your products &/or services in trying to convince consumers to make a purchase: zzzz.
*My phone starts ringing and my eyes flutter open as I'm startled awake
Oh sorry, were you talking to me? Sadly, if the above sounds all too familiar, you've been caught in the age old trap of stale storytelling. It can easily be overcome, but it will take a little creative thinking to get things moving in the right direction again. Good storytelling isn't just in the story anymore, it's to do with how it is used and shared as well. You could write the most compelling and enthralling story in relation to your company and brand, but if you don't share it or get it to your target audience, all that hard work will have been for nothing.
The key steps used to create inviting stories aren't just used to spread word about your brand; they can be applied to each and every campaign you endeavour on. To get the creative juices flowing, we've designed the Seven Deadly Cs, and not deadly in the sense that they're sinful, but deadly because they'll knock your previous attempts to the floor. The below will guide you through the steps you should apply to your storytelling. Think of your brand as the narrative and the stories that make it up your products, services and, advertising campaigns. Follow these, and your path to heaven-like glory will be storytelling gold.
- Go back to the inception of your business and pen down the words you associate with this time. Look over photographs, listen to a song you like that came out that year; essentially, set the mood.
- Put your consumer shoes on. The truth is people largely do not make purchases based on logical thought. They make purchases centred on their feelings.Â
- Take another look at your business vision & motto and ask yourself how can you incorporate this? You want to create consistency.
- Understand and realise what it is that you like in a story. When a message is being delivered and you've taken note, what was used or done to get your attention? You'll soon begin to see a pattern. Take these common traits and devise a plan to create your story the same way.
- Use the people around you to help! Developing a story to support your brand doesn't have to be a solo journey. In fact, it'll be much more difficult if it is.
- Make sure your creative staff are on the same wavelength as you. This may not always be the case when you start out, which is completely fine, but to move forward, make sure the key elements are agreed upon. Tip: be flexible and take advice. Your creative staff specialise in this area and they'll have interesting input.
- Be on top of current trends to show your business is modern and up-to-date. Nowhere could this be more important than with your online marketing strategy.
- It might sound like something your teacher used to say to you at school, but the best way to create stories is to read! Sign up and subscribe to blogs, industry newsletters and magazines, online journals - the more you read the better you will become at mirroring brilliant storytelling.
- Follow a structure suited to the medium you choose.
- Utilise the channels available to you. This might mean creating visual and textual content to make the most of these creative mediums, but more importantly choose the mediums appropriate for your audience.
- Don't use overly technical language or jargon. This will turn away your target audience. They're here to read a story, not a text book.
- Don't just capture your audience's attention, capture their imagination! The trick? Incorporate your products &/or services here. Paint a scenario with three challenges and obstacles your potential and current customers face (in relation to your product &/or service) and then pose the solution (in the form of your product &/or service), but then don't forget to conclude with a Call To Action. While this might all seem fairly straightforward, this all needs to be done indirectly. Your audience isn't stupid, they know they're being sold to, but don't make it obvious! If you can do it creatively and enticingly, they won't mind the fact that they're being sold to. Good stories don't make it obvious that you're selling to your audience.
- Capture their attention, but hold it as well. There's no point having an amazing title heading to your story if the body doesn't back it up. Lure them in, but make sure you retain them.
- Once you have their attention, connect with them so they can continue to be dazzled by your genius.
- Let them know how much you value them. Use client testimonials when you can (but remember to get their permission first). If they agree, it makes them feel special, and it shows your audience that you continue to hold a relationship with your customers even though the sale finished long ago. If they feel special and valued, they'll want more. This is where your customer service needs to back up the story you have put so much time into creating.
- If you have a newsletter, a blog, a preferred social media platform, ask your audience to connect/subscribe with you.
- In the literal sense of the word, use the online social media platforms available to you to actually connect with your audience. You want to become a part of their social media use.
- Importantly, give your audience the evidence they need so they can trust you. You not only need to master your storytelling, but you need the facts and statistics to back it up. Transparency is highly valued by consumers. Once they decide they can trust you (your brand) and your product &/or service, they will decide to purchase what you're selling = conversion.
- This is where you need to make sure your Call To Action in your storytelling is easily identifiable by you, that it indirectly informs your audience, and then when it comes time to convert, you execute it seamlessly.
- Get their details! You've put in the hard work and you've made the conversion, but this critical step is so often missed. Remarket to them, give them exclusive offers and specials and, provide them with loyalty schemes.
- Entice them back; let them know what you have in the pipeline, like upcoming blog topics or industry news. Give them a reason to continue visiting you. Don't forget to continue to connect with them too. It is a relationship and you need to treat it as such.
- Collect their feedback. Once you have converted the sale find out what you could have done better. Take it on board and then implement the changes which will work with your business model. Or is there a topic they would like to see your brand cover? You'll never know if you don't ask. You can open up a whole new avenue for potential topics you can write about.
- Thank them!
- You've put in the hard yards - congratulate yourself! Creating a story worthy of your brand is at times difficult work but, it's well worth your while!
There you have it. What you will find as you start to see the results from the techniques above, it almost becomes a bit of an addiction! Your mind will start racing with more and more creative ways to tell your brand story and how to connect with your audience, and you'll see your skill in the art of storytelling become more astute and wiser. Just never forget to listen to what is going on around you. What is the mood of your staff? What concerns or desires do your customers have? As long as you listen, you can centre your brand storytelling on what is currently happening, making your brand story not just relevant, but authentic.
So the next time you embark on a storytelling venture, remember the above and you'll see your audience connected and captivated by your storytelling prowess.