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4 Sep 2019

Using the power of storytelling to promote your business

Earlier this year, Digital Growth Programme consultant Paul Ince spoke about the power of creating an emotionally compelling narrative when it comes to building a brand, here, he gives us a summary of the options available for businesses to tell their story.

Blog post written by Paul Ince:  

Content marketing is a powerful way to show that your business is to be trusted, that it knows what it’s talking about and that it’s the obvious choice to do business with it.

But what do we mean by content and what sort should you be creating? At a very simple level, content refers to the creation of posts, blogs, video, even podcasts and so on. But just creating content doesn’t mean it’s going to do anything for your business.

Indeed, create average, boring content and you won’t even be seen let alone noticed. The content you create must stand out, be engaging with its target audience and, unless you have a large budget, be cost effective to produce.

Fortunately, most businesses can take advantage of the functionality and accessibility of platforms like social media, websites and video hosting in the same way large corporates can. It just takes some creativity. As much as we’d all like to ‘go viral’ and reach thousands, nay millions, of people, trying to force such an outcome is rarely likely to succeed (it can happen – it’s always what you might not think, though). Instead, it’s much better to look at what you can talk about easily and consistently. That’s often the story of your own business.

So, how do we tell our businesss story effectively? For me, there are four pillars of your business story:
• Your business
• Your people
• Your products
• Your customers

The story about how your business came to be is unique. No one else has the same history, the same motivation or the same passion. It reflects your individual circumstances. Tell your potential customers that story, give them the ability to see your reason to exist, why you care about what you do. Show them around your premises using video. Write a page on your website about how your company started.

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Think about how big brands like Hovis talk about history – we remember the bread boy delivering up the steep hill partly because of the advert, but mainly because we know that the business has been going for a long time. Your people are very much part of the reason your potential customers will choose your business over others.

Despite the increasing digitisation of business and transactions, people still buy from people. Showing your team as part of your content helps a prospect see who they will be working with. They’ll make judgements on whether they seem warm and friendly – that’s a good thing, assuming you show your people to be such.

Many marketers will tell you not to appear ‘salesy’ in your content – a terrible term, but one which creates an aversion to talk about doing business. I can’t subscribe to that, but it’s true that users of social media platforms aren’t on there waiting for a firm to tell them they must buy their goods right now. We must be able to use content to sell our products and services that’s appropriate to the mechanism we’re using. A good way to do that is to tell a story about the product/service.

Finally, how can we involve customers in our storytelling? Most businesses want reviews, testimonials or case studies. The latter in particular is not a new format of storytelling and yet remains one of the best ways to show the power of your business to others. What was the problem? How did you resolve it? What benefits did the customer receive from working with you?

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Write the case study like a story and you’ll have something that people find easy to read and engage with. If you sell physical products, ask your customers to send in pictures/videos of them using them, or ask them to share their use on social media, tagging you in so you can share it. Plus, user-generated content is the best advertising you can never create yourself.

By having different strands to your storytelling, you’ll have a variety that prevents your potential customer from becoming bored when they see it. With a consistent approach, including different topics, you’ll weave together a coherent story about who you are and give a compelling reason why that customer should choose you over someone else.

If you want to see how digital marketing and technology can help your business take a look at the programme's recent case studies. 

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