Tips In Telling Your Company’s Compelling Story
Home Pet Vets is a veterinarian that makes house calls. Dr. Julie Tavares is the company’s passionate vet who brings her high-tech mobile clinic to your home on your schedule, provides most any vet services you’d find in a clinic, and makes your life easier. It’s that simple and that’s Home Pet Vets’ story.
What’s your company’s story, and how does it resonate throughout all of your communications? When people hear your brand name, do they immediately know who you are and what you’re about? If not, it’s time to work on your storytelling and make your business’s story say who you really are.
We’re inundated with constant marketing messages throughout the day and night. When you wake up and check your email or social marketing sites, you’ll likely have multiple messages and posts from companies that were sent during the wee hours of the morning in hopes of being the first to show up. With more and more communication bombarding us, the messages become more diluted and the impact vanishes. We see right past the marketing and don’t absorb the nonsense.
So how do you make sure your message stands out from the nonsense? Real people don’t want marketing messages. Real people – your customers – want real stories. They want to connect with companies that they care about on a personal, emotional level. They want to feel something for the company, its products, services, employees, mission, goals, and business practices.
In telling Home Pet Vet’s story, it’s important that the audience immediately gets it that Dr. Tavares is a caring vet who works to make the lives of people and their pets better through a unique, convenient service. That’s her story. In this message, we easily understand her brand and how she benefits her customers.
Compelling, genuine stories are what matters in business.
Customers connect with companies they care about on a personal level. When your brand creates personal interest within a customer, you have the potential of gaining a customer for life – and that customer has lots of friends with similar interests, values, and buying habits.
Your story isn’t just your history, about the company, how you started, and where you’re headed. It’s not filled with marketing-speak, or something to trick customers in thinking you’re something you’re not.
Your story essentially sums up who you are; in short, it’s your brand. Your story consolidates everything about you that your customers care about: your values and principles, philosophy, strengths and even weaknesses, the reason your company exists, motivation, and dedication. It’s an insider’s look at your company, how you benefit customers and the world, and what makes you special and unique.
If it seems like a lot to accomplish in one story, it’s easier once you get started. Effective storytelling doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but everyone does have an interesting story waiting to be told. Digging in and grasping your story is within your power; it’s inside you waiting to come out. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of tips and steps to make it even easier to tell the story that will compel your audience to want to learn more.
Lay the groundwork of your exciting story.
1. Start by listening.
Find out what people think of your brand. You need to know what your customers say about you in social media, online reviews, blogs, and anywhere else your name pops up in internet searches. And once you find out what they’re saying, are they correct? Are they getting the wrong idea about what you stand for, what your products are, and who you really are?
2. Set goals.
What do you want your story to accomplish? What is the human reaction you want to elicit from your audience? Write out your goals and put yourself in your audience’s place: if you heard your company’s story for the first time, what would you walk away feeling about it? What main message would you relate to others?
3. Make it a team effort.
Engage with your own staff to find out what they think of your brand. Hold informal meetings with all levels of employees within your organization, managers, board of directors, even investors, if possible. Feedback – and not just from customers – is critical in bettering your business. Listen to what your own people say and involve them in the process to boost your internal PR. It will also give you valuable insight into what’s working and what’s not, and possibly bring up suggestions and action plans for improvement.
4. Answer questions about your brand.
You know your company better than anyone, so now it’s time to start answering tough questions about it. By doing so, you’ll learn even more and become more focused on what’s important to your success. Some questions may seem silly or redundant, but it’s important to get as much essential information as possible. You can come up with your own list, but here are a few to get you started: Who are you? Why does your company exist? How were you started and what were the obstacles you had to overcome? Why do you matter? What motivates you to work every day? What do you value most in life? In your business? What differentiates you from similar companies?
5. Determine your audience.
Who is your ideal customer? What are their likes and dislikes, passions and fears? Create a buyer persona to better visualize your customer’s gender, age, occupation, income, interests, and other relevant demographic data.
Now that the foundation has been set, it’s time to get to the fun part: actually telling your unique, interesting story.
6. Be memorable.
The most important factor in telling your story is to be compelling, interesting, and fascinating – and above all, not boring. Your story needs to stand out and make a serious impression on your audience. You have to grab attention with an engaging story that deeply connects with your customers. Otherwise, you blend in with the countless other marketing messages, get lost in the shuffle, and your business fails. Think about some of your favorite brands and research their websites and social marketing sites – how are they telling their story? Is it straightforward and factual, or engaging and entertaining? Does it feel like a scholarly article, or an interesting read?
7. Show your personality.
Determine what tone you will use that expresses who you really are. Are you a fun-loving, down-to-earth company, or one with a dry sense of humor? Are you quirky with a sharp intellect, or easy-going, down home, and focused on old-fashion values. Are you adventurous, or steadfast, or wise? Let it all out in your story and your target customers will overwhelmingly react to who you are.
8. Be genuine.
Tell your story in a human voice, not a marketing voice. If you’re not authentic, your audience will lose interest, trust, and quickly click away. But when you’re open and honest about who you are and tell a captivating story, they’ll be drawn in and want more.
9. Be clear and concise.
When people hear your story, they should immediately “get” you. Don’t overpopulate your story with extensive explanations, flowery language, or complicated, detailed histories. Make sure the foundational message about who you are is prominent early and often throughout your storytelling.
10. Use the right words.
Once you have a good first draft of your story – focusing on being clear and concise – go back through and make sure your message is infused with the right keywords that people will actually use to search out your products and services. Make sure they are relevant to your brand and words that real people would use. Google loves quality content, and making sure you have those specific words people search for will improve your SEO.
11. Internal buy-in.
Your employees matter and are a key in making your company operate successfully. And they communicate regularly with your audience. Empower employees and managers to tell your company story through real human-to-human interactions.
12. Spread the word.
Remember, your story isn’t just an About Us or Our History. Your story is your brand, and should be utilized in all communications. Tell your story – who you are, why you’re unique, why you matter, etc. – throughout your website, in social media channels, responses to customers, blog posts, press releases, annual reports, and anywhere else you communicate. It’s a great story and deserves to be told.
And finally, once you have your genuine, compelling story complete and are spreading the word, you have to walk the walk. Your story is 100% true; you aren’t just saying things about yourself that you want to be. That being said, you need to back up your words by being what you say you are.
Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps build killer brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.