Are Women Better at Telling a Business Story?

Are women better at telling stories than men?Have you ever asked a man about a newborn?

When a friend, boyfriend, spouse, or male co-worker proudly announces that someone in his life just had a baby, and you ask for details above and beyond gender and name, have you noticed the glazed look in his eye?

A woman will not only tell you the exact length and weight of the child but also:

  • what the date and time of the child’s birth means including any similarities it shares with the other hundred people she knows
  • how the mother’s birth sign will mean a stressful relationship between the two
  • and how the child also has Aunt Mildred’s nose even though no one has seen Aunt Mildred since that issue from a decade ago that no one will talk about in a normal tone.

Women capture more of the details.

We also use more words. (Not that a large number of words is preferable in telling a story.) So…

How Do You Tell an Effective Business Story?

What is preferable in creating an effective story are the following details, and let’s face it, women know details.

Setting the Stage

A story must have a context and a setting for your audience to identify with it. Trying to make it fit in “any old place” is giving away an opportunity for connection. Luckily, most business stories incorporate place if for no other reason that their business is located in one.

Baiting the Hook

Again, women reign supreme on this. How often do men ask us “What’s wrong?”, and we reply with a muttered nothing. It’s not because there really isn’t anything wrong. We just want to make sure our audience is paying attention when we finally divulge exactly what’s eating us.

We also do this on Facebook. How many of your women friends post things like “<sigh>” waiting for someone to take the bait?

Creating a Character

Women are always creating characters and assigning shared characteristics to completely oblivious people. For instance, we won’t date a certain man because he reminded us of our high school guidance counselor who wore the same pair of shoes, shirt and pants every day and no one wants to marry that guy. But it’s not that this new guy wears the same clothes every day. No, he gets lumped into the guidance counselor role because they both said the word “fire” like it was pronounced foy-yer.

But that’s okay, because you already have a mental image of this guy now don’t you?

Setting a Goal

All good marketing needs a goal and here I’m going to give men their due.  A tight marketing campaign (and business story) is going to contain a measurable, defined goal and men are just as capable as women in defining and analyzing the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

I wrote this post to annoy several professional friends of mine. That was my goal. I’ll let you know how it worked.

In all seriousness, the reason storytelling is so effective in marketing is because it gives you a feel for the personalities behind the brand. A vibrant storyteller will make your audience feel something and say it in a way that is both memorable and inspiring. It doesn’t matter if that person is male or female, works for the company directly as CEO or mail-room clerk, or an agency person who gets ready every morning by acting out scenes from Mad Men.

They just have to be skilled at sharing that one true point that builds an indelible impression and leads to a connection that drives a purchase.

Do you think women are better than men at business storytelling? Let me have it below.

Content Marketing Helps You Sell Earlier

Are you capturing the easy sales on your website with good content?Sometimes I wish I could wear a t-shirt when I go into brick-and-mortar shops that reads,

“If you can see my face, I’m here to buy something.”

Or maybe the hologram on my credit card could shine a bat signal when I enter a store and a salesperson could come right to me.

Know Your Customer

In the days before the Interwebs, I worked in retail in a women’s clothing store. When a man walked in, we nearly knocked ourselves over getting to him. Not because we were high school girls but because most men hate shopping and they certainly don’t want to spend any extra time in a women’s-only store. They walk in and they buy (and they’ll often buy accessories if you suggest them). No trying on, no fuss. Just a card and they’re off. At sixteen, we knew our customer.

 

Today, I shop the same way.

 

Like the men I rang up on multiple occasions, I don’t like to shop. If you see me in your store, I’m there for one thing — to buy something. Show it to me and ring me up. I’ve already researched the prices online. I already know the product specs.

I’m not alone in my purchasing habits. 

76% of the population does their research prior to getting to the store or having a conversation with a sales person.

If you’re waiting to see your customer’s face before you launch into your sales pitch, it’s already too late. The good news is if they’re like 76% of the population researching before they reach a salesperson, you have a sale but…

 

How many people are you missing because of your website?

How many people can’t find the information they need easily from your site?

Or how many can’t figure out what you do or if you can specifically help them?

Are you holding their interest? Making them want to do business with you? Is your content working?

How many potential customers have questions you can’t answer online? Do you think they’ll wait to call you during business hours? They might if they can’t find the answer on your competitor’s site.

 

Tonight while your loved ones are sitting in front of the television with their phones or tablets ask them to visit your site. Give them a basic question to “research” on your site. See if they can answer it just from the information presented. See if they can do it quickly.

If not, you’re leaving those easy sales on the table.

 

If the easy sales are on the table, what’s happening with the hard ones?

 

Photo credit: skippyjon via Flickr

Why Your Homepage Content Stinks

Elephant in the room alert.

My home page design stinks.

It stinks because I’m not a graphic designer.

Thankfully my first year plus in business has kept me so busy the project I had worked on to redo my website with a designer fell by the wayside. But a lot of my business comes through word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business so my website stinking is not my main concern.

But if you’re a small business who wants more customers, or an association or chamber looking for new members, your homepage can’t stink.

Does My Homepage Content Stink?

I’m going to stick to what I know best: content. So here’s how you know your homepage stinks from a content perspective. Ask yourself:

Does my copy read like a college entrance essay?

Clear writing makes good website copy.

Don’t use highfalutin’ words, even if you know what they mean. Keep it simple. Tell your potential customers’, or prospective members’, how you can solve their problems in the simplest of terms.

Otherwise, you’ll only confuse them and let’s face it, no one wants to feel confused.

Does my copy read like my 5 year-old nephew wrote it?

Casual is good. A distinct tone is wonderful.

Adherence to basic grammar rules, if you want people to give you money, is still absolutely necessary.

Is it obvious I am a disenchanted English major who always wanted to write the great American novel?

Wordiness is just as bad as words that are unintelligible or words that can only be decoded by NASA engineers.

Do I mention clearly what I do and where I am?

Contant: you get what you pay for.You’d be surprised how many people use pat (aka meaningless) industry words to describe what they do.

Also, while many of us do business on the Interwebs, letting people know where you are means you’re less likely to get a call in the middle of the night wondering if you’re open.

And please…don’t advertise events without telling us where you are. You may assume your audience knows “Columbus” but there are something like 22 “Columbusses”, “Columbi,” “Columbus” (whatever) in the nation and who knows how many others in the world.

If my lack of fact checking is bothering you, Google it and leave the number in the comments.

Does my tone fit my brand?

This post is lip-smacking sarcastic for me, but it’s not a complete departure from my blog’s tone. I’m casual in my own business writing. That’s how I prefer it but I was an Econ/Poli Sci major so if you want dry and erudite drivel, I can do that too, but it’s not me. So I don’t.

If someone hires me, I write in their tone, not mine.

You have to think the same way on your website. Don’t choose a tone for your site that’s different from who your business is. It will only confuse people when they go from reading your social media and content marketing posts to doing business with you.

If your homepage design stinks get a graphic designer (and then get me one too) but if your content’s not up to snuff – if it’s not attracting your ideal audience, or getting them interested in what you have to offer, if it doesn’t convey why they need you and convince them they should’ve called yesterday, your content isn’t working hard enough. 

Think of me as a personal trainer for your words.

 

That’s where I come in.<Queue my dramatic theme song. Something akin to Wonder Woman but without the 70’s disco beat.>

I’ll whip them into shape and make sure they’re doing their jobs. No cutting corners, just getting you more business and more interest.

 

 

How Content Marketing is Like Online Dating (or the post forever known as OOPs I shared too much)

 

 

#online dating #content #marketing Don't pretend to be someone you aren't.

I tried online dating.

Once.

I had been warned.

Predators, one male friend said.

Waste, a female friend told me.

 

But I did it anyway because I’m stubborn like that and I was convinced there was no other way to meet new people.

I spent a half hour on my profile and it was enough to make any man run.

 

I wrote about being a single mom to 5-year old twins (at the time) and that they had to come first. “As much as I might like to climb Mount Everest with you” (there are a lot of “explorers” who want to “make the most of what life has to offer”), “doing so is next to impossible. Romance for me is more likely to be a home cooked meal and candlelight in yoga pants than an expensive French meal and dancing the night away.

I laid it on thick. I stopped just short of committed cat lady. After all, that would’ve been a lie. I don’t have a cat.

No pictures of me in a bikini. No kissy faces at the camera. The same shots I use on social media, all of my face.

 

And out of hundreds of men, 3 contacted me.

That’s the way I wanted it because these gentlemen had self-selected. They weren’t lured by a picture or promises of something I wasn’t. Those other hundred “adventurers” who were off “making the most of what life — the beach, Florida, Tampa, the water, whatever — had to offer,” they weren’t for me and I didn’t want to waste our time.

Your Content Must be Written to Your Ideal

 

You need to write, or create, your content for your organization with the same ruthless pen. Don’t write it to appeal to people who won’t buy from you. Don’t write it for people who might buy once because they don’t really understand what you offer.

You’re wasting everyone’s time if you do.

Allow them to self-select, or rule themselves out, before they even get to you. They know what they want and if you’re not it, that’s okay because there are others out there who are the perfect fit. 

Being all things to all people, doesn’t inspire loyalty. It dilutes your brand and message.

Know who you want to do business with, or who you want in your organization, and write to that person. Craft your marketing message like a love note written to your ideal.

There is no point in luring someone in under claims of something you’re not. Sure, you might get them to buy what you’re offering once but eventually they’ll realize the purchase wasn’t what they were looking for and they won’t return. They may even feel bitter and misled afterwards.

If one-off business works for you, then by all means when the adventurers walk by, sell them Mt. Everest. When the introverts visit, entice them into promises of a good book by a roaring fire.

But if you want to create a loyal customer base with a strong brand, you’ll understand who you are and who is your ideal, and you’ll speak just to those people.

 

In the interest of story and resolution, and since I’ve already shared an uncomfortable amount of my personal life – at least for an introvert – it suffices to say, I spent about 3 days on the site before I took my profile down.

It wasn’t for me. It reminded me too much of a menu.

 

Knowing who you are is as important in life as it is in marketing.

 

Photo credit by Floodllama

May Your Heart be Light

 

 

May the magic of the holidays inhabit your every day.

 

I love this time of year and it’s not because of the twinkly lights and the presents under the tree that may, or may not, have little corners pulled away from their wrapping paper coverings exposing tiny little secrets to what they may contain.

Nope.

I love the reflective quality of the time. The days are shorter. It gets darker earlier. The temps finally cool (I live in Florida), although not really.

And there’s time to think about where you were last year. And time to dream of where you’ll be next year.

 

I remember the people who are no longer in my life and, hopefully, cherish the people who are.

And I eat wonderful meals without care to the calories or what it takes to work it off in the gym. And I drink an amazing red (or two) and toast all that is yet to come.

I hug and love on the kids a little longer this time of year because with every tragedy that occurs, I’m reminded just how quickly lives can change, and at some point any ordinary Christmas can be a last. And I don’t do it to be sad or morbid. I do it to be grateful.

Then I dream of the trips I will take and the everyday adventures that will unfold this coming year and I hope they are both recognized and appreciated.

And I continue to learn.

Which brings me back to reflecting on all that has come before me to bring me to this point — happy and sad, trying and triumphant — and all the wonderful challenges, frustrations, opportunities, loves and losses that are still ahead of me.

And I smile.

 

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

May the magic of the holidays surround you every day.

 

Thank you for your readership.