Stories have formed our heritage. If it were not for stories handed down through generations, we would have lost much of our cultural histories. Stories were also a favorite during our growing years – we all had our favorites books. And we loved the stories that our parents told of their childhoods, of our own infant and toddler years before we could remember.
Stories Have Not Lost their Appeal
We all still love stories, even as adults. We read and watch human interest tales; we are captured by intriguing and shocking accounts of events and experiences; we are inspired by the triumphs of others.
Stories Enter the MarketPlace
It was only a matter of time before businesses saw the value of storytelling. It humanizes them; it provides social proof and inspires trust in their brands. And if they can add some humor and entertainment while telling them, all the better.
Who has not been entertained by the tales of the Geico Insurance Company gecko? And other insurance companies have followed suit – we have Flo from Progressive and the Aflack duck. And each of them has a Facebook page.
You may not want to create a “mascot,” but you do have stories to tell:
- How did you begin your business and what is your mission? What value area bringing to your customers?
- Who are you outside of your business? Human interest stories are engaging and compelling
- Who are your team members? What are their back stories?
- Do you have happy customers who love your product or service? What are their stories?
- Are you involved in any community activities/events or supporting any causes?
You do have stories to tell. The key is to tell them in engaging ways, so that your readers and followers will develop a more personal connection with your brand and, even better, share them.
Consumers no longer view direct selling favorably. They are becoming far more discriminating and they want to know who they are doing business with. Smart companies are spending more time developing relationships through storytelling than they are on direct selling, and it is paying off.
Now that you know the types of stories you can tell, let’s look at them in more detail with some examples that should give you some good ideas.
1. Who Are You?
It’s not enough to just launch a business and start marketing your products or services. You need to explain who you are, why you started your business, and what you believe you can do to solve a problem that consumers have.
One increasingly popular way to do this is to create an explainer video. (people prefer video to text these days). It doesn’t have to be professionally produced – a smart phone and a good mic will do. In fact, the more casual you can be, the better.
One of the best examples of a great explainer video is that of Dollar Shave Club. Within just a matter of days, it has hundreds of thousands of views and put this new company on the map. You can view this video that cost $2500 to produce. Quite a good investment.
The video is not only genuinely funny, it explains the value of the company’s subscription razor blade service and the problem it will solve for busy consumers.
2. Who are You Outside of Your Business?
Did you recently get a new pet? Did you have a vacation mishap that could be a humorous story? Do you regularly volunteer somewhere? Were you a guest speaker at an event? Did you receive an award or recognition of some sort? Post a photo or video with a short caption or text on your social media platforms, on your website, and your blog.
People can relate to these events and activities. And they will see you as a real human with a life that relates to theirs. These are the connections that will establish trust in you and your brand.
3. Who Are Your Team Members? What are Their Back Stories?
You have a company culture, no? And you want to project that culture with real people within your organization telling their stories.
Here is a customer service pro with Toms Shoes explaining what it is like to work at Toms and why she is so committed to the company and her part in its success. The video is casual, informal, and not a “canned” production – projecting both the company culture of giving and employees who make that culture work.
4. Social Proof Through Customers’ Stories
Stories do not have to be long. They can be as short as a photo of a happy customer using your product. ModCloth, a clothing and accessory retailer, does a great job of this. Its site and social media pages are filled with photos that customers have submitted wearing items they have purchased. Customers can relate to the variety of body styles that are featured in these photos – real people happy with their clothing purchases.
Neightan White, Director of Marketing for the online writing agency, Supreme Dissertations, puts it this way: “We have always posted testimonials from our satisfied customers. But, because of the ‘suspect’ nature of these by consumers, we knew we had to do more to ‘prove’ that satisfaction. Once we began to post photos and videos, we gained the trust we needed, and our sales began to get a solid boost.”
5. Have a Cause
Today’s consumer base is shifting. Of course, Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers are still purchasing and still on social media, but Millennials and now Generation Y make up the largest consumer base. And they are all over social media. They value diversity, equality, and social responsibility, and this is what they want to see from businesses they choose to patronize.
If you do not have a cause – local, regional, national, or international – then you need to get one now. And you need to post your stories of support, especially through photos and videos. People want to see the results of your doing good.
A popular method of giving is now the one-for-one model that was originated by Toms Shoes. For every purchase of a pair of shoes, Toms donates one to a need child somewhere in the world. Other companies have followed this model. You may not be able to do this, but you certainly can get yourself and your team involved in a social cause, even if it is tutoring disadvantaged kids at the local level. And when you do post your activities on social media, people begin to feel all “warm and fuzzy” about you.
6. Words are Still Important
Journalists get it. Headlines, photo captions, and compelling beginnings to their stories engage readers and motivate them to read on.
While visuals are key to your storytelling, so are words. And you must really write like a journalist to tell your stories well. If you are challenged in this area, then you need to get help. There are a number of freelancers and writing services that provide the kind of creative storytelling copy you need – and you can find them at places such as Grab My Essay, Upwork, Rewarded Essays, Freelancers.com, and other sites.
If you want a good example of grabbing headlines and copy, check out Upworthy’s Facebook page.
7. The Wrap
Six storytelling strategies. How many will you be able to use over the next year? Make no mistake about it – your stories, told on social media, are perhaps the most powerful marketing tool you have for today’s consumer.
Bridgette Hernandez hold a Master’s degree in anthropology and holds an abiding interest in what makes humans and their cultures “tick.” About to publish her first book, she is a master at turning ideas and concepts into compelling and engaging content. She is a frequent article contributor to a number of online companies, such as Is Accurate.