Establish Your Business With Helpful Content

Telling your business story allows you to attract the right audience and connect with them. Help your audience with your contentBut attraction won’t keep them coming back.

Content will.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the most effective content is:

  • educational (telling someone how to do something)
  • informative (providing information they didn’t know)
  • entertaining

Here’s an example of a great piece I received from Hipmunk. It contains information that is relevant to me (I like to travel, but I’m cheap as all get out), educational (tells me I can save money if I buy now) and informative (I didn’t know airfares went up that much approaching July 4th).

Will this content motivate me to buy?

I suppose it would if I was planning a trip over the July 4th holiday, but I’m not. However, this is not a wasted marketing effort on Hipmunk’s part. Because they shared some valuable, helpful information with me, I am now beginning to see them as a resource for saving money.

They used their data and presented me with easy-to-digest information.

Well done.

 

Is Your Business Story Hanging Out with the Wrong Crowd?

In addition to being engaging and memorable, business stories serve as a guest list for your business. A well told business story communicates the kind of person you want at your party/business. If you don’t keep your audience in mind when crafting your story, you’re bound to attract the wrong crowd.

Your Audience is Part of Your Story

Writers frequently refer to their audience as co-creators of their story. The same can be said of an engaging business story.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about living the life you want to live. You have to do something that you enjoy. – Andy Freeman” 

Your story must resonate with your ideal customer to be effective.

Busch Beer and the Earned Approach

Take a look at this 2014 campaign by Busch Beer. The product isn’t even mentioned until the end frame.

 

Busch is appealing to the working man – the people who earn a drink at the end of a hard day. Its target audience is not customers who want a craft beer experience or those who squeeze fruit into their beers. They sell affordable, mass-produced beer and tell a story that appeals to the people who consume it. It’s one of hard work, community and grit.

They also don’t do it alone. Busch invites its viewers (and drinkers) to share their stories via social media.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company – Hops and Adventure

Compare Busch’s story with this beer maker:

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s story tells of how the founder followed his dreams. It incorporates powerful images of the adventurous spirit and implies these are people of means who have time and funding for exploration. It captures the beauty in nature and forgoes the grittiness. SNB appeals to people who drink beer for taste and give thought to how it’s made.

Two very different audiences with noticeable differences in the storytelling.

Both capture the ideal of being true to yourself and your interests but Busch does it in an approach that highlights a man following his boyhood dream. SNB’s company story highlights a man following his dream too but in a more adventurous exploratory way, with less focus on the amount of work and more focus on the experience.

By telling your story, you are also controlling who you are inviting in (to sample and purchase your product). In Marketing 101, you learn if you sell high end race cars, there’s no point in targeting the every man. He won’t/can’t buy from you.  The same holds true of your story. Your story should be evocative and resonate with your ideal customer.

It’s not enough to tell a meaningful, interesting story. You must keep your target audience – and what they relate to –  in mind, otherwise there’s no telling who will show up.

 

To Tell a Good Story You Have to Listen

If you pick up a book on how to write or tell a story, somewhere in it will be the following advice:

Listen.

From a fiction standpoint, listening is a great way to capture and understand dialogue. You can also steal find some interesting stories when you listen to others.

But in today’s social media rich world, if you’re telling your business story, listening becomes much more than that. 

Listening becomes a way to connect with people, build relationships and scout new prospects.

Like most writers, I have a dual professional persona. I write for clients helping to tell their stories and I write for myself, telling mine.

Recently I came across a writing conference I was considering. Truth be told, I’m always coming across writing conferences I’m thinking about attending but this one was economical, well-known and located in the heart of the publishing world. I did what any normal writer in today’s world would do – I tweeted my possible interest, including the @name for the organization hosting the conference.

 

That was three weeks ago and crickets.

 

This organization is much larger than I am and I have no doubt they will sell out on this conference but compare that to a conversation I had with another writer’s conference organizer.

I phoned her to find out if my favorite living author still had room in his session. Not only did I get an answer to my question but we talked about him and his latest book. We laughed about how writers always think every story they write will turn into a major motion picture. We wonder if we’ll have any say into the casting.

Writers are dreamers. If I had more of an entrepreneurial spirit, I would host a joint conference for writers and people who play the lottery all the time. I digress. She gave me…

 

Personalized attention.

 

So which one am I attending?

Is that even a question?

 

You cannot form a relationship or “kinship,” as Gini Dietrich refers to it in her book Spin Sucks, without listening. Listening in person, listening online, being present in conversations. We’ve received a gift in that it’s easy to hear when someone is talking about us on social media. If you get labeled as someone who doesn’t listen you’ll find fewer people are interested in being a part of your story.

 

If you want to tell a good story, you have to listen.

 

 

Spin Sucks: if You Want to Tell a Good Story (a Book Review)

I was fortunate to be among a group of early reviewers for a book that recently game out – Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich. Storytelling with Spin Sucks

Here’s my synopsis: buy it. The more time you waste reading these reviews, the less time you’ll have to implement these very worthwhile tips.

 

But if you need more encouragement….

 

While this book was written by one of the great PR minds of our time, she did so with business owners in mind. Gini provides readers with tips they can put into place themselves or simply use to have a better conversation with the people doing their PR and marketing.

Telling your business story is so important in today’s sales climate. It improves loyalty, sales and engagement. While initial efforts to create a spin-free representation for your business take time – you’re building relationships after all – in the end, if means less work for your marketing, sales and PR teams because you will have created loyal brand ambassadors out of your customers.

As Gini says throughout the book, this method is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. But she gives you the tips and tools you need to run a good clean race you can be proud of.

You can find my full book review of Spin Sucks here.

Or if you’re more into video…

 

Full disclosure: I have not been compensated for this review nor do I have any financial interest in it. I was given access to a galley copy but have since purchased my own copy – and you should too.

 

Tips on Telling your Business Story from Successful Writers

When I suggest telling your business story I hear a lot of grumbling. While the cause is partly lack of understanding as to who they are or who they hope to be (aside from successful), some people are just hesitant because they think they can’t write.

Telling your story is not about writing. It’s about encapsulating who you are as a business (and the people/person behind it) in a medium your audience will consume.

Still feeling nervous about storytelling? These great writers can help:

“I myself am made entirely out of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” -Augusten Burroughs

If you’re not going to tell an honest story, don’t tell one. Conflict is what makes a story so don’t be afraid to tell of your failures. Think of them as flavoring, without a little spice, there’s not a memorable finish.

“This moment will be just another story someday.” – Stephen Chbosky

We can only hope that what we are dong at this moment is material for a great story.

“The world is a story we tell ourselves about the world.” -Vikram Chandra

Your business story is more than how you came to be. It’s about who you want to be.

Do you sell to pampered pets? Or do you want to be known as the working man’s something? Your story must convey this. Just as a novelist would pick a genre and write accordingly, tell your story in a way that appeals to your target audience and speaks their language.

Your business story becomes who you are to the world.

“Have your adventures, make your mistakes, and choose your friends poorly – all these make for great stories.” -Chuck Palahniuk

Your business failures will later become the grit of your stories. They will be the glue your customers adhere to, if you own up and admit to them.

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” – Brandon Sanderson

When writing your business story the phrase, “This is why you should buy…” should never come into it.

The story is a courtship of the customer.

That’s why a lot of marketers hate this method. It’s slow. It’s patient. You must woo the customer, court them. Never order them to do something. Lure them. Seduce them and they won’t want to leave.

What’s your story?