Whether it makes you laugh, cry, or scream — or all three — we all love a good story. From books and movies to personal experiences, all of us have stories that have touched us in some way. With that in mind, the difference between good content marketing and great content marketing is storytelling. Unfortunately, even though we connect with great narratives, many brands fall short when it comes to telling their brand’s story. Rather than connecting with their customers, they get lost in the shuffle of marketing mumbo jumbo, jargon, and competition. To make your brand’s story stand out from the noise, here are a few storytelling tips.
1. Know yourself.
Imagine going into a job interview and hearing the typical, “So, tell us about yourself” type of question. Do you have a clear and engaging answer or do you tend to babble and trip over words? While this should be the easiest question to answer, it’s often the hardest. Many of us struggle to hone in on the interesting things that showcase our personality and skills and end up sounding like a robot or boring Wikipedia article. Knowing who you are and expressing that in a memorable, engaging way is what sets you apart from other candidates. The same goes for brands! It’s important to truly understand who you are as a brand and what you bring to the table. At E-Power Marketing, we call this your “sweet spot” — aka: what you rock at and what your business should be known for.
To really “know” yourself as a brand, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- How and why do we exist? (Origin stories are often a critical part of a brand’s story.)
- What sets us apart from other competitors in the industry?
- What problems do we solve?
- What do customers and employees love about our company?
- What do we stand for? (Think core values.)
- Where are we headed?
If you can clearly and concisely answer these questions, you’re well on your way to crafting an engaging brand story that people will connect with. Everyone has different thoughts, opinions, and interpretations, so the more you dive in, the more authentic and engaging your story will be. Consider gathering insights from employees, customers, competitors, and industry trends.
2. Know your audience.
Once you know who you are, you’ll have a better grasp on who might connect with and benefit most from your brand — aka: your target audience. Not everyone is going to be a good fit for your products or services, and that’s OK. You want to focus on those who really resonate with your brand story, who you are as a company, and what you offer. When that connection happens and their story starts to intertwine with yours, customer loyalty and satisfaction is the long-term result. When a customer really connects with your brand, they’ll tell your story better than you ever can.
We find that the best way to know your audience is to develop buyer personas. If you’re not familiar with them yet, they’re “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers” based on your customers’ demographics, lifestyles, buying patterns, and more. They are a great way to start to really hone in on exactly what your customers want and shift your messaging accordingly.
Check out our tips for crafting accurate buyer personas and start developing (or updating) yours today with our free Persona Development Guide.
3. Have a clear tone & voice.
Have you ever heard a poem or passage from a book and know immediately who it’s by without even seeing the author’s name? Or have you picked out a book simply because you’re a fan of the author’s writing style? Think of storytellers you love — from Charles Dickens to Stephen King to Jane Austen. A lot of them have a recognizable tone and voice, even across books and mediums. Consider using that same technique with your brand to help customers connect with you, whether they’re reading your content on your website, social media platforms, or email.
To help you hone in on our tone and voice, ask yourself the following questions
- If our brand was a person, what kind of personality would he or she have?
- Using adjectives, how would we describe our brand? How would customers describe our brand?
- Using adjectives, how would we describe what our brand is not?
- What are some other brand voices we admire?
- What industry jargon should or shouldn’t we be using?
As you’re developing your brand voice, consider the kind of voice your customers may expect to hear or connect with the best. Younger audiences may appreciate a light-hearted, humorous approach, whereas a high-powered CEO may connect more with a straight-forward and business-like messaging.
Just like a popular author generally uses consistent characters, tone, and voice to tell a story, your brand should as well. Once you have your brand tone and voice nailed down, be sure you, your team. and partners are using it across all channels for cohesiveness and better customer experience.
4. Have a clear mission or cause.
When you read a good story, you generally rally around the protagonist character with the noble goal or quest in mind, right? So, what’s your company’s quest? What goals are you trying to achieve? If the answer is simply more sales, then that’s probably not going to be a very interesting story for your audience. Generally, you, your customers, and your employees are going to resonate with something bigger and more impactful. A good brand story is meaningful.
So, what’s your brand’s mission? Are you saving the planet with environmentally-friendly and sustainable products? Is your company helping students with disabilities break down barriers with innovative new educational software and technologies? Whatever that looks like for your company, that’s your mission. If you’re struggling to find it, go back to step one and take another look at your origin story and why you do what you do. Once you have a clear mission, goal, or cause in place, you can begin to shape the narrative story surrounding your business and actually draft a compelling story people will want to engage with.
5. Use traditional storytelling techniques.
Too often as digital marketers or business professionals, we get so caught up in cranking out blog entries and ad copy that we forget what makes a compelling story. We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s helpful to think back to English class or even your favorite books and movies. You probably learned about a typical story plot with a clear exposition/beginning, climax, and denouement/resolution. You probably also connect with various core themes and genres, such as mystery, romance, “coming of age” stories, and more. There’s a reason we flock to stories like these: they’re interesting and relatable.
As you’re telling your brand’s story, consider using some of these storytelling techniques. Don’t be afraid to mix in a little drama, intrigue, and entertainment value. If you don’t find your brand’s story engaging, why would your customers? People love to see how a problem was resolved, how you’ve grown and matured as a company, or how your products came to the rescue and saved the day. There are multiple ways to tell a story and multiple platforms. Find the one that works best for you and your audience.
6. Be human.
It’s the quirky and memorable characters that stick out in all of our favorite stories, right? That’s why it’s important to humanize your brand. There’s no doubt that people connect with other people, not brands.
So, who are the characters in your story? Customers, employees, business partners — they all play an important role. While your business may be a business, it’s made up of people. People laugh. People get angry. People make mistakes. People are imperfect. Putting people at the center of your marketing strategy allows customers to go on that emotional journey with you. They’ll connect more with your company because it seems more personal. They’ll see themselves using your products in their daily life or even working for your business.
Share your story with us!
Got a great story but need some help telling it? We’d love to chat. Sign up for a free digital marketing consultation to discuss how you can better share your brand’s awesome narrative across channels.