Small business owners are always looking for ways to connect with their existing audience as well as reach new customers. Often, whether it’s social media, your blog or email marketing, it can be difficult to think of new things to say or share. We need to keep showing up, but how can we keep people engaged?
Telling stories is a natural process. We all do it, you may think you don’t, but believe me, you do. Something happens, and as we retell what happened, we do so in the form of a story. We put a beginning to it, explain the event as the middle and most likely end it in way that provokes a conversation.
We’re natural storytellers, all of us, but when it comes to using this technique in our business, we tend to think it’s not appropriate. Instead, we present facts or wrap up our business in sales type lingo, or even worse, clam up altogether and then when it comes to creating content, we freeze. We claim to have no ideas.
But we do. It’s all there once you change your perspective and start looking at promoting your business as simply telling stories about it. What’s more, it’s been proven that stories are the best way to expand and grow, and ultimately get more sales.
They are essential in growing a business, in building up a loyal customer base, in making your brand memorable and most importantly, in gaining trust. And this all combines to creating a uniformed brand that is instantly relatable and easy to remember.
So how does it work? How can you continually use stories in your business?
It helps if you look at three basic themes of storytelling, roughly centred around who, why and how. Think of them as chapters in the book of your business.
Stories of expertise
This type of story is all about who you are and who your business is for. But before you jump to the predicable ‘about’ page of any business website, it’s not just the history, this is where you get to tell stories that demonstrate your authority. The type that educate the reader about who you are and why they should buy from you.
These types of stories are so much more than simply explaining how you got to where you are. These stories are things that demonstrate to your customers and clients that you are a leader in your field. An expert in what you do.
Say for instance you make knitted toys, the who stories would include what kind of stitch you use, what kind of yarn you source, when you’re most creative. Think about all the decisions you make in your business on a daily basis and why – there you have a multitude of stories.
Only take on three clients a week in your life coaching business? Tell me the story of how that decision was made. Only use Royal Mail to ship out your goods – tell me what led to that decision, did you try something else that wasn’t as good? Does your new procedure benefits your customers?
These stories can also be wider than your business. Commenting on industry news, signposting to other organisations in your field that complement your business, all set you up as an expert in the eye of your customer. These stories let your clients know that you are more than a small desk in a back bedroom, you are in fact, an expert.
Stories from behind the curtain
These stories are full of whys. These are the type of stories that get the customer behind the front of your business and takes them round the back to where you make the coffee. Why are you doing this business? Why do you love it? Why does it make you happy? Why are you telling me this story about your business?
This is where you bare your personality, where you tell you clients about your day. What happened to that pot you were making that came out blue instead of purple? Why do you start your day with an hour of yoga before you see your first client? Why do you have this font on your website? Why did you choose that logo and not the other one?
These stories may seem inconsequential, because why would choosing a font be interesting to a client who’s deciding to choose you over someone else? Because once you talk about the process of deciding on your logo, on what your thought process was before choosing that font and what it means to you, they’re a little bit more knowledgeable into who they’re buying off. If they know that you took a considered approach when choosing between two fonts, they’ll know you’ll take a considered approach in providing the perfect solution for them. These are the stories that tell them about you.
Stories of solutions
These stories focus on engagement and solutions. This is where you tell the stories of past clients – how you helped them, how happy they were with what you created, how you get repeat custom. This is where you showboat your skills, you demonstrate how you fixed problems and with testimonials, show your future clients what you can do for them. These stories are all about what your service or product can do and how they can help.
So when you come to create content, knowing that you have a story that will fit basically into one of these three headings is key. Think of them like your chapters, with each piece of content you create going under one of them.
Knowing what kind of story you’re telling and why, is paramount to making you business memorable. They might not remember your company name, or even your name, but they will remember the story about why you only use recycled plastic in your notebook binders, or how you helped a school get excited about literacy, or about the small dog that keeps you company as you work.
The themes keep you direct, they keep you on record and give your business a uniformed brand. So next time you’re planning your content, consider the headings and think widely. Don’t just share facts and figures, tell your future customers the stories of a business they won’t want to forget.