Practical Storytelling

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As marketers, sales people, business owners, in fact almost anyone working for a company, we have a story to tell. It’s an age-old art form that remains as powerful today as it did hundreds of years ago. One of the issues we see today is that many brands still don’t understand how to tell those stories on the various platforms at their disposal.

Changing habits

The notion of storytelling hasn’t changed; it’s the medium. That is why publishers need to move with the times. We are an ‘on-demand’ generation and we want those stories told to us in a way that adds value but also on a timescale we want to control. When was the last time you rushed home or stayed in to catch a TV show? No-one does that any more, they simply find a way to see it on catch up or online. It’s on the audience’s terms.

Product or service benefits vs. a story

How you are telling your story is really important. The person you are trying to reach probably doesn’t want you to ram the features and benefits of your product/service down their throat. They want to see someone using it in a way that inspires them, makes them laugh or evokes an emotion. And if you can’t get an audience to react to your post through likes, shares and comments, it’s game over, you’re wasting your time.

Practical storytelling

On a practical level, you’re probably tasked with posting on social media, via email and on your blog to make money. Hey, why do you think I’m writing this? **Call me now for 10% off your next marketing retainer**  (joke, well…sort of). Think about what it is you are trying to achieve, is it to:

  • Build and entertain an audience?
  • Engage with an audience to start a conversation?
  • Sell to an audience?

Then tailor your content accordingly. Don’t try to hide the fact you’re selling something, you can be explicit about it, just make sure you’ve offered some consistent value first.

Also what platform are you posting on? Don’t post the same thing on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram – they are wildly different platforms with very different audiences. Also, don’t expect to deliver staggering results in your first week. It takes time to build an audience and you need to build constantly.

If that last word seems unachievable, it’s not. When you truly believe in your brand, you don’t need to paint a fancy picture of something you are not, for the larger part, you just need to document your journey and show your passion. Take our friends at Jarr Kombucha. They’re not a big team, yet they’re documenting the day-to-day, their classes, their process, their passion; it’s their story. And because they’re being authentic and relevant in what they are talking about, they’re winning.

Time

Time is the asset – so the question is how can you tell your story quickly? There is without doubt a place for long-form content, but understand your audience is often very busy. That is why you need to think about the timing of your email or social post. You may want to test sending or posting longer form content on a Sunday evening when people are relaxing, as chances are on Monday at 10am people are going to be pretty busy with work, despite that being the time you are ready to post something.

Summary

So when thinking about how to distribute your story, remember awareness shouldn’t be the goal – it’s awareness with reaction or emotion that’s important. You need to raise a smile, raise a heartbeat, raise an eyebrow and in turn raise your sales.

Give value to your audience in your storytelling and they will feel indebted to you. Don’t tell a story to sell X product, rather always be adding value to build loyalty and you’ll have a customer for life.