It’s long been said that people like to do business with people they know. That has resulted in a long history of businesses trying to get to know potential customers and clients.
But the dawn of content marketing made possible a customer-relationship tool that businesses hadn’t always had access to: letting the customer get to know them. After years and spent studying behavior to try to get to know the consumer, businesses now had a mechanism by which they could very quickly allow the reverse.
Yet not all businesses are good at developing a persona – that’s what the marketing jargon might be – that allows for such customer familiarity. Sure, there are some great Twitter accounts out there that expertly personify companies, but smaller businesses and individual practices might not have the large social media departments (or budgets) that, say, McDonald’s or Walmart has.
Fortunately, smaller businesses have another powerful way to let an audience get to know them: storytelling.
Everybody loves a good story. And just about every business has one. So using your business’s platform – a Youtube channel, blog, newsletter – to connect with your audience via storytelling is a natural fit.
Here are some tips for capitalizing on that fit:
Play to your strengths, format-wise
If your strength is writing, then telling your business’s story in writing is probably the best way to connect with your audience. If you have great old photos or video footage and can edit video and narrate effectively, then telling your story in a short video is probably the best way to go.
Think about the stories you have heard over the years. Some of them you probably liked not just because of the story itself, but because it was also well-told. Keep this in mind and pick a medium that will resonate the most with your audience by playing to the storyteller’s strengths.
Ask questions, then answer them
Telling your business’s story might sound like a tough task, but it can usually be boiled down to asking, then answering, some basic questions. If you don’t know how to begin telling your story, try first by asking: who, what, when, why and how. Then simply answer the questions in narrative form.
And these don’t have to be the most-obvious who, what, why and when. Some less-obvious, similar questions that can help a story are: Why did you start the business? When did you first think of it? What were some early challenges? Who helped you? How did it almost not work?
Answer these types of questions along with the basic chronological timeline for your business, and you have a story.
Talk to the guy at the bar
When telling a business’s story, the storyteller probably has a better chance of holding an audience’s attention by keeping the language conversational. Everyone already knows you know everything there is to know about your business, so you can leave some of the expertise and technical jargon out of it. Don’t be tempted to use 25-cent words when 5-cent words will do.
Think of it as telling your story to the guy sitting at the end of the bar, rather than presenting a physics dissertation to a panel of scientists. Most audiences would rather hear a folk tale than a graduate-level college lecture.
Content marketers sometimes complain that the well of ideas sometimes runs dry. But telling a business’s story not only provides fresh content to publish, it might resonate with the audience in a different way. Remember, content marketing is a fairly new way to let your target audience get you know your business, and once you do, you might notice a different level of engagement from your audience.
And an engaged audience is usually a pretty good ending to any business story.