Note: This Storyletter was sent to the tribe on November 5, 2017. Want in? Click here.
Do you know where all the attention has gone?
I have some ideas, but rest assured, I’m out there looking for it and I won’t stop until it’s found.
Entertain Me, Please
Here’s what I know:
- We’re a society that wants to be entertained.
- We binge watch, scroll and get our news in headline form.
- We are over-scheduled, always busy and stressed out.
- We’re not reading anymore; we’re skimming. (By the way, that’s why I’m writing in short sentences and even shorter paragraphs.)
And I’m as guilty as everyone.
I’ve already mentioned a million times that our attention spans are shorter than a goldfish.
Well, it seems as if it is getting shorter every day.
And what that means is that what worked last year to grab attention and earn new customers just isn’t working anymore.
Here’s a Little Story
We’re going to talk about how to fix it, but first, let me tell you a story.
It goes like this …
I was making some whipped shea body butter in my boutique. This was probably about ten years ago, right after I opened. To make whipped shea body butter, you have to whip a bunch of melted shea butter.
I was using my beautiful pink kitchen aide (which I loved) when for some reason (no logical one that I can think of) I lifted the whisk out of the bowl … while it was still spinning.
Shea butter went everywhere. It was in my hair, all over my clothes, on the walls and the floor. It was a mess.
Right then a customer came in and burst out laughing, which of course caused me to laugh. I helped her find what she needed while draped in body butter and before she left I asked her to take a photo.
She did, and later that day, I posted it with the story, probably something similar to what I’m saying here.
She commented on the post, as did a lot of other people. The next day someone came in and referenced the post. I may not have known it then, but I was onto something.
Find More Funny
The moral of the story is when I owned my business I didn’t know what it took to become memorable. What I did know was people responded to the funny things that happened during my day.
They liked when I made mistakes and laughed at myself (and still do).
But today, the burden of stopping the scroll is getting harder and harder.
Now, I know I sound like a broken record these days, but I’m cool with that.
Because I can’t say it enough …
YOUR STORY MATTERS!
And it’s time to adapt and experiment because there isn’t a proven, one-size fits all strategy out there.
Ready. Set. Story on.
Until next week,
You are one story closer to the business and life you’ve been working for.
P.S. Read the blog, grab your story guide, and start thinking about how you can become memorable. It’s how you’ll win attention and grow your business.
P.P.S. #HappyNationalDoughnutDay … Treat yourself. You deserve it.
P.P.P.S. Did you know there were two #doughnut days? Yep, you can celebrate the #donut on the first Friday in June and again on November 5th. Click here to read why donuts are getting all the love.
Knowing that my status as an empty-nester was inevitable, I spent this past year experimenting, both in life and in business, to try and figure out what my life will look like after kids – if there is such a thing.
I spent time walking 10,000 steps a day, attempted yoga positions no 53-year-old should attempt, and forced myself to get enough sleep. Okay, let’s be real, nobody had to force me to spend more time bed.
I also tried eating vegan, paleo and everything in between. I eliminated sugar, tried (unsuccessfully) to give up cream in my coffee, and saved my beloved pasta for special occasions.
In my business … I embraced live video, tried my voice at podcasting and launched and tested several products.
What I learned
What I found during this year of experimentation is
1. Life is too short to give up things you love.
2. I can talk. A lot. And even though I became comfortable talking on camera, I still prefer to ramble via text.
3. I love helping business owners find and share their stories.
4. And finally, and maybe the most important, I love food and I want to eat it. All of it.
Now, that I have all this data and my nest is empty, the time has come to figure out my next chapter.
If you know me at all, you have probably heard me talk non-stop about travel, adventure, and becoming a nomad. That yearning is still strong within me.
In many conversations with Way and the boys, we came to the decision that 2018 would be the year that Way and I follow the sun.
The boys have their own plans, as grown children should and will be joining us along the way as their schedule permits.
What I’m Doing About It
With that decision made, the next logical question is what does that mean for my business and some of the other things I learned?
1. Way and I started working out together six days a week.
Have you seen him? Have you seen him eat? I want to be more like Way.
Truthfully, I’m not even sure how I can muster the movement in my fingers to write this just two days into my new workout routine because I am so sore. It will get better, won’t it?
2. I’m hoping lifting weights, yoga and regular walking (possible even running on a beach somewhere), will reward me with the ability to eat what I want, when I want it – within reason, of course.
3. And finally, and here’s the big one … I can officially announce that I sold my marketing business, so I can concentrate on doing what I like to do and what I do best – write.
I realized I really missed personal blogging. I’ve been so busy creating content for my business and for other people’s business, that my personal thoughts often took a back seat.
That changes now primarily because I need the therapy! So expect more personal blogging as I adventure through life.
Initially, I was planning on taking December and January off, but when I started to put feelers out there for potential freelance writing work, my December quickly booked up with projects. It feels good to be needed.
The Journey Continues
I will admit that I struggled with this decision of selling my business because I love teaching small business owners how to use their story. But the reality is a client-based business when you are traveling can be a bit challenging.
And I’m a workaholic. It’s true. I could work all day every day because I love what I do. But what’s the point of living a life of adventure if you aren’t going to enjoy it?
When you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. Answering questions, strategizing, and working through roadblocks is fun for me, but it’s not as much fun for my family. It’s not in my DNA to step away when someone needs help. So, I’m sort of forcing myself to do so.
To keep my hand in the better brand story niche, I will continue to write my weekly Storyletter (which happens to be some of my best advice) and I will turn my signature courses and content in digital downloads creating a story library of sorts.
Basically, while I’m going somewhere, I’m not really going anywhere.
What’s the Plan
Now you might be wondering where we’re headed. My parents are wondering the same thing. So here are our plans (at least as I write this).
1. We will be in Flagstaff through the end of January. But our relationship with Flagstaff won’t end. You can expect to see us in town later summer.
2. In February, we will be spending the month in San Diego helping Way’s mom begin the arduous process of cleaning out her house. Living in a house for 50+ years provides plenty of opportunities to hoard.
3. In March, look for us in Mexico – somewhere. There are so many great choices that I’m suffering from decision fatigue.
And that’s about all we have right now. The type A, planner in me wants it all laid out, but the new, nomadic me wants to see where life takes us. I seem to be spending an excessive amount of time on the Nomad List – I may be obsessed.
And as most things with my family, everything is subject to change until the tickets are purchased.
Why You Need A Small Business Blog
A few days ago, I introduced my new done-for-you premium blogging service, Blogging Your Story and I was amazed at the feedback I received. There was a lot of it and I was either thanked profusely for putting this out there, or I was told I was crazy because blogging is so last year.
Hold your horses … Blogging is last year? I hate to tell you, but blogging is anything but last year.
Then I realized with all the focus on live video, InstaStories, and visual images, I can see where a small business owner might think blogging is yesterday’s news.
Well, I’m here to convince you otherwise.
In this article, I’m sharing some reasons why a small business blog is mandatory if you want to grow your business.
A small business blog is such an important part of every marketing strategy but most small business owners let it slide because:
1. They think blogging is outdated
2. They don’t feel like they are writers
3. They just don’t have the time for it
4. They don’t think their business needs a blog
But before I share why your small business needs a blog, here are some recent stats for you:
Now, you might think I’m going to talk about things like how a small business blog helps you get leads, how it helps potential customers find you, and how it helps build relationships. Well, those are very valid reasons as to why you need a blog, but that’s not the angle I’m going to present today.
How a small business blog helps you Be a Better business owner
1. Focusing on answering the questions your customers and potential customers have keeps you focused on providing what your customers want and need.
Remember, most customers believe and trust the information they receive from blogs. So it doesn’t matter if you are a tow-truck service or a dentist, a business blog not only helps establish your trustworthiness, but it keeps you focused on providing the kind of content your customer needs to make better purchasing decisions in your niche. Bottom line, it keeps you talking about what matters to your customers, not what you think they should know about you.
2. Blogging regularly helps you to clarify your message, hone your stories and find your voice.
The more you focus on creating valuable content, the more clear you’ll become on how to talk about your product or service so it resonates with more ideal customers. Most small business owners deliver the messages that seem relevant in the moment so they can attract many customers as possible. Instead, when you hone in on a specific message that attracts the right kinds of customers, you’ll stop trying to find new customers and they’ll come looking for you.
3. Your blog is the perfect communication hub and if your customers are trained to visit your blog, you’ll be positioned for quick revenue bursts, spur-of-the-moment changes, and relaying of other important information.
If you position your blog correctly, you’ll be able to create a quick revenue boost when you need it most because you’ve already done the hard work of building trust and relationships. It has been proven time and again that a loyal audience rewards you for producing valuable content and information. Additionally, you’ll be able to explain and announce important information so that it has minimal impact on your customer’s experience with your business.
4. A blog is perfect to help you understand what you need to produce.
Having a blog with many articles allows you to learn what your audience really wants. When you know what types of content perform the best, you know what types of content to continue to create.
Also, you can use your blog to request feedback from your audience which can help shape future product launches and promotions setting them up for success before they even begin. Basically, give your audience what they want!
5. Blogging can inspire you and motivate you when you need it most.
Blog writing makes you think! You’re sort of forced to ponder newsworthy topics, the state of your industry, your customers and the world around you. And doing that on a regular basis can inspire you to think bigger and better.
So, you see … a small business blog not only attracts the right kinds of customers into your business, it makes you a better business owner. It helps you put the emphasis on delivering what your customers want and need, instead of just deliver what you think they need.
Stop making excuses and start spending some time and energy into creating a business communication hub with a powerful business blog. Your customers (and your bottom line) will thank you.
Storytelling Marketing is the key to growth
Storytelling marketing is key right now to building to awareness of your brand. We’ve got the reasons why you need to tell the story of your business.
Storytelling marketing is a great, fresh way to get eyes on your brand and your products. The concept is simple: put your business and products into a story that’s both uplifting and easy to digest.
However, if you aren’t confident in your creativity and your storytelling skills, a fun and interesting marketing technique can easily be overlooked.
Curious about storytelling marketing, but not entirely convinced to try it out? We’ve got a few reasons why it’s an essential way to show off your business.
One of the strongest reasons as to why you should focus your efforts on storytelling marketing is simply that stories tend to play on peoples’ emotions.
This sounds bad. This sounds manipulative. While storytelling does manipulate us into feeling a certain thing, that doesn’t make it bad.
You’re not trying to lure innocent people into buying shady products from a dark alley, right?
Sometimes we fall into the trap of trying to appeal to someone’s logic from a business standpoint. We want our customer base to think it makes sense to buy this product, not necessarily that they want it.
Storytelling marketing takes the guesswork out of that. Rather than appealing to what you think they’ll want, you’re appealing to their emotional sensitivities. This can give customers motivation of a different kind.
Emotions help out our decision-making processes. Not only that, but emotions actually trigger people’s memories.
If you give your audience a good story, one that sticks with them, you’re going to have a much easier time turning them from a lead to a sale than you would other types.
That doesn’t mean that other types of marketing are ineffective, but storytelling marketing is often untapped and underrated.
Going off of that, storytelling lets us focus on our products more than ever. How? By appealing to emotion.
That line of thought may not make a lot of sense as written or stated. How do emotions mean you can focus on the product?
Think about it: you hear someone recite a bunch of statistics or raw data regarding a product. It could be about how great the product is, how groundbreaking it is, how it’s sure to change your life. Alternatively, it could be something negative about the product, and how it’s sure to put you into financial collapse.
Regardless of the purpose of the data, it’s easy for all of it to blend together in a weird, soupy mess of numbers and bylines.
You want to appeal to your audience’ emotional core rather than their logical sensitivities.
Your audience is going to remember what emotionally appeals to them. Use storytelling to focus on your products. Tell a story about them, one with drama, nostalgia, and all importantly: a happy ending.
This will drive more action than focusing on statistics alone, and all cards on the table: you’ll probably have a better time doing it.
Focus on your product and appeal to your audience’s emotions. Two simple steps, right?
Now, let’s throw in a curveball: keep it simple.
“But wait!” you say. “You just gave us a plot breakdown! How can we keep things simple if we need to include drama and nostalgia?”
Your eyes dart nervously around the office, and your hand shakes as you take a sip of coffee. You take a breath and continue, “And the headline of this section is ‘say more,’ so I really don’t get why you keep contradicting yourself like this.”
Sit down. Relax. Nobody’s saying you need to stick to a long-winded three act structure.
Storytelling, whether for marketing purposes or not, is about crafting your words properly. You’re not telling this story to friends at a bar: this is presumably written on your website to entice your audience to purchase your products or services.
Storytelling marketing is all about showing instead of telling. Keeping your story simple is a way to keep them engaged.
The vaguer on the details you are, the easier it will be for your audience to imagine themselves as the focus of the story. If you make it complex, you risk losing them in all the details, and thus losing the sale.
This should really go without saying, but if you’re going to tell a story to reel your audience in, you want it to be a happy one!
Think about it. Who wants to read a story about a product only for it to have a bad ending? Why would they buy your product if it’s just going to end in tragedy or misfortune?
You don’t have to be Shakespeare when it comes to storytelling marketing. Or, rather, you can be. Just make sure you stick to his comedies.
Condensed versions of his comedies. Remember, shortness reigns supreme in the digital age.
At the end of the day, storytelling marketing walks hand in hand with regular storytelling. They both get your creative muscles pumped up and flexing.
When you’re working with a product day in and day out, it can be troubling to find a way to make the product fresh and exciting. However, you have to in order to make people want your product.
Don’t think about your product so literally. In storytelling, the sky isn’t even your limit. The black hole that threatens to devour you when you break into outer space isn’t even the limit.
The only limit is your imagination, and the only way you’re going to find the right story is by exercising it.
Even if you think your idea is too silly, run with it. Chisel it down until you’ve found the perfect unique way to describe your product or service – the perfect way that only storytelling can accomplish.
Storytelling marketing: a compelling method
In the digital age, traditional marketing techniques aren’t as effective as they used to be. That means it’s necessary to branch out and spread your wings.
Storytelling marketing is a great way to play into our client’s psyches. Rather than presenting a product and showing it off, we’re telling stories about it. We’re showing off different facets of the same thing.
Questions about how storytelling marketing can work for you? Ask the expert!
In this week’s #fiveonfriday Facebook Live, I shared my best five tips to help elevate your about page to show who you are in the best possible light and make that magical connection with your ideal customers.
Your about page is such an essential part of your website, and if you’re like most small business owners, you may have thrown something together just to have it there.
Your about page is the most, or second-most visited page on your site, which means you need to take your page to the next level.
Here are my notes from the Facebook Live, but before you go through them, I created a new story guide available. It’s called, How to Turn Your Website Browsers into Buyers; 15 Shortcuts for Storifying Your Website. Get it by clicking the button below.
1. Find Your Voice
I see a lot of businesses use the third person on their about page. And for big business and huge teams, this is an excellent place to start.
But let’s remember that people do business with people. And they want to do business with people they like. And they only get to like you if you personalize your about page, so they get to know the real you.
If you have a large team, then I recommend starting out with the business story but use your personal stories and those of your team to enhance the experience.
To tie in my business story, I included catchy headlines that broke up my story into themes. For instance, two of my headlines include Chasing Boys, Pivoting and Playing Poker and another is Black Sheep, Solutions & a Leap of Faith.
What I did group my stories into chapters and titled them. Then I wrote. I have a few sentences visible, and then a read more that expands that section if someone is interested.
Now to tie it back to my business and related it to my ideal customer, I shared the lessons I learned along the way. That does a few things.
- It shows my experience, without telling them I’m experienced.
- It positions me as an authority, without telling them I know it all.
- It shows that I learned lessons along the way, relating to my ideal customer who might be struggling right now.
Your about page is often the most visited or second-most visited page on your website. Yet, most people I talk to don’t give this page the attention it deserves and needs.
If people learn about you, opt-in to your list, come across an article you wrote, the very next thing they are going to do, is going to your about page. It’s usually not the very first impression, but it’s often the second. So what do you want that say?
2. Create an Attention Go-Getter
It’s not enough to create attention, grab it or hope for it. You have to go after it.
Even people that are seeking out information about you need to be wowed, or you’re going to lose them.
You have to start with a strong headline – something that will calm the ADD mind.
Think of the headline as an ad for the rest of your story. I’m not sure what way you’re supposed to swipe to show your interest (because I’m too old for that), but you want them to swipe that way.
Create interest. That’s my best advice.
I’m going to continue using my about page as an example. So I start with …
My name is Kim Yuhl, and my business card says I’m an: optimist, strategist, and allegorist.
I chose those words because they are accurate, they describe me, and what I do and they are unexpected.
Then I start in with my story.
One thing to remember as you create this page is that every line you write has a goal. And that goal is to get them to read the next line. Use that as your filter.
And I say this from the personal experience of a rambler. I ramble when I talk, and I probably ramble more when I write – if that’s even possible. So edit and ask will this hold attention and will they care enough to keep reading?
3. Be the Guide
Of course, this is the main point of your about page, right? To let people know who you are and how you can help them.
But it can’t be a list of achievements and testimonials. This is the place to get vulnerable and be heartfelt. People respond to people who make them feel something.
So empathize and guide through your story.
My opening goes something like this …
So being an optimist, strategist, and allegorist is great.
But the question everyone asks, including my mom (as in every time I go home), is …
So, exactly what do you do?
The short story is after starting and selling two businesses and spending 15 years as an entrepreneur; I took everything I learned and starting sharing the big lessons with small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them grow their business.
And here’s lesson #1:
THERE’S ALWAYS MORE TO THE STORY.
There’s credibility in the 15 years. I empathized by saying I get it; even my mom doesn’t know what I do. And then I started with a lesson giving a hint as to what is going to come.
It doesn’t need to be in list form. It is more important than ever to get creative!
4. Call Them to Adventure!
Knowing this is your most or second-most visited page is important information.
This is the best place to make sure you are capitalizing on gathering leads.
What is your core free-offering to gather contact information? Give them an option to get it here!
Now, I get to say … do as I say not what I do, because right now, I’m switching a few things out, and I didn’t get my brand new Call to Adventure done in time for today.
But right under I hope you choose to tell your stories, I give a resource to do just that. And I change it out every month. You don’t need to do that, but you definitely should have a way to collect a lead!
5. Stories. Stories. And More Stories.
Duh, right? Now, I know I’m all about the story. But seriously, if you can only have a story on one page – it would be this page.
Make people feel something. Let them in. Let them get to see a glimpse of the real you.
And that won’t happen when you are talking in the third person, and it certainly won’t happen if you go about listing what you do.
And that’s your five on this Friday.
Now, before I let you go, I want to let you know I have a brand new free story guide available. It’s called, How to Turn Your Website Browsers into Buyers; 15 Shortcuts for Storifying Your Website.
Until next time, remember … you are one story closer to achieving your biggest goals.
How to Tell Your Business Story & Build Brand Loyalty
Telling the story of your business is going to increase your customers’ interest. We’ve got your how to guide right here so you can share your story now.
You may not be a marketer or writer by trade, but how you tell your small business’ story is vital to standing out from the crowd.
Business stories connect customers to brands on a different level than traditional advertising. They make your company likable and trustworthy–two things that more than 83% of consumers say inspire customer loyalty.
But there are only so many hours in a day. You may not have the time or resources to put towards your company’s digital strategy on top of everything else.
Luckily, we’ve got a few quick and simple tips to help you tell your business story in a way that’ll both inspire loyalty for your brand and turn readers into paying customers.
Let’s jump right in.
Aspects of a Great Business Story
Your brand story is more than just a pitch or quick anecdote. It’s a collection of every element of your business, from your purpose and values to your company’s mission statement.
Even if you’re not a gifted storyteller, there are a number of storytelling tactics and tips that can make your business story more impactful, engaging, and shareable. And ultimately, more profitable.
Really, it all starts with…
A clear Objective
There are ten stories that every small business should tell.
But the main component they all have in common is that they reveal something about your company. Something specific and intentional that you want your customers to know about your brand.
Ensure your stories have an objective from the beginning. It could be to show off your team’s problem-solving skills, a look at your mission statement in action, or how you accommodated a customer’s unique needs in a pinch.
Regardless of the story itself, make sure it’s doing something positive for your small business’ bigger image.
Authenticity is key for great business storytelling.
Be careful not to embellish the facts of your stories and always fact check against other sources for accuracy when you can. Even a small, unintentional inconsistency can cast doubt on your brand’s trust and authority. And bad reputations last.
But being genuine also applies to your tone. It’s more important for people to enjoy reading your story than it is to showcase your vocabulary. Stick to using language that’s conversational, easy to understand, and true to your brand.
The only way for your audience to experience your story is if you put them there. So do it. Use sensory descriptions to help your audience see, hear, feel, touch, and even taste what’s happening.
Just be careful to weave them into your stories naturally. You want to engage your audience with the important details and leave the less interesting stuff out. And a list of descriptions isn’t all that exciting.
Consider how your descriptions serve your objective and let that guide what you decide to include or cut from your final drafts. If it doesn’t serve your objective, get it out of there.
Your target audience is your target customer. So make sure you’re writing with them in mind.
Tell stories about your business that relate to what your target customer cares about and how you can help. Identify the questions and problems they have and use those to shape what you post, and take advantage of every opportunity to relate to your readers.
But different situations call for different strategies. It’s one thing to know how to tell your story one blog post at a time, but quite another to relay it to a potential investor, customer, or colleague on the fly.
How to Craft a Quick Business Story Pitch
Sometimes, you need to pitch your story in a minute or less. That’s just the speed of modern business.
That’s why it’s a good idea to write a pitch for your business story and practice it. If an unexpected opportunity arises, you’ll sound more confident to potential customers and keep yourself from rambling on.
What to Include
Your business does so much it’s hard to know what to include or leave out. But remember, this is a 60-second pitch–not an encyclopedic entry. Less is more.
Start with a little Brand Brainstorm. Jot down the most important attributes of your company, then narrow it down from there to just four or five key qualities. Another way to do this is to ask yourself what five words you want to be associated with your company.
This list will help you stay on brand no matter how unsure you might become. So keep your results handy as you write your pitch.
Below are the key aspects of your business story pitch. Try to answer each of these questions in two sentences or less:
- What does your business do?
- What problem does your business solve?
- How is your product or service different from others?
- Why should anyone care?
Stay on message by referring back to your brainstorming list when you get stuck. It may take several attempts and some reshuffling of key phrases to get your answers how you like them, but the effort will be worth it.
How to Format Your Pitch
Your first sentence should read a lot like a tweet (but with better spelling and grammar).
Try to write a succinct description of your product or service in less than 140 characters and see what you come up with. The character constraint will do wonders for helping you think outside the box and get straight to the point.
Likewise, get creative with your phrasing. Ensure your descriptions are catchy and memorable and stick with the direction you outlined in your Brand Brainstorm earlier.
But if you still feel like you might be over-stuffing your business story with information, remind yourself that you want your pitch to lead to questions. Questions allow your audience to take part in the discussion and give you a chance to talk about your business in a more organic way.
Also, keep in mind that your pitch will be spoken. So take any long, complex sentences and break them down into shorter ones that are easier to say. Use conjunctions like “and,” “but,” “so,” and “yet” to start your new sentences for a more conversational flow.
And practice, practice, practice! Get that pitch down to a minute and sound good doing it. No matter how many re-writes it takes.
The End of This Post, But the Beginning of Your Story
As a small business owner, nobody knows your company better than you. And now that you can write your business story as well as you can pitch it, be sure to optimize your copywriting for the modern attention span (which is now less than a goldfish’s!).
Or take the next step and join the Brand Story School, which is guaranteed to double your small business income in one year (and who wouldn’t want that?).
Why Strategic Storytelling Increases Brand Awareness
Strategic storytelling may be a tool in your branding that you’ve overlooked. Here’s why you should be sharing your story with your customers.Everyone loves a good story. Any time you add a human touch to something, you draw people in.
People want to care about something.
They want to feel invested.
Strategic storytelling is an amazing way to create a sincere connection between your customer and your brand. It is a combination of basic branding practices, with a touch of fictional writing.
Some key things to remember when utilizing storytelling for brand marketing are honesty, relatability, and consistency.
Decent writing doesn’t hurt either.
There are many ways strategic storytelling can increase your brand awareness. Let’s take a look at how you can make this marketing tool work for you.
Don’t Try Too Hard
Strategic storytelling should be done in an engaging, interactive way. Your goal is to draw people in, not push them away with an obvious sales approach. Strategic storytelling doesn’t need a pitch, as much as it needs a storyline.
Sometimes the best story is the truth.
People love to hear how a business got started. Especially if it means a couple of normal, everyday people (just like your customers) with a vision. Down on their luck, but never gave up. Capitalized on an opportunity and developed a multi-million dollar business from nothing!
We tend to root for the underdog, and this is a prime example. You can pull at people’s heartstrings without hitting them over the head with it. Be careful, consumers can tell the difference.
And you don’t need to create an elaborate, emotional story. Simply how and why you started is a great jumping off point.
Make it Personal
Storytelling that lacks emotion won’t get you very far. Creating an emotional connection with your audience opens doors for other connections to be made.
View this emotional connection with your audience as a bridge. Once you’ve built that bridge, it allows for ideas, facts and key messages to get across.
Your story should also have a unique voice. This is where those writing skills come in handy.
No Story is Too Small
Don’t be fooled into thinking you either don’t have a story to tell or that your story isn’t important enough. It is.
It’s important to remember that your customer starts out with a problem before seeking out a solution. And here’s where you come in.
The answer they’ve been looking for.
This is an ideal opportunity for you to use strategic storytelling. Focus on your consumer’s problem and connect to it, using a humanistic approach.
What do you want your readers to feel? What actions do you want them to take? All of these elements will help you craft your story and increase brand awareness.
Character is Key
Creating a relatable character with your strategic storytelling is key. If your audience sees that you’ve bettered the character’s life, they can imagine the same happening for themselves.
Not every brand needs a character like the Aflac duck or Geico’s gecko. Though these little guys sure are cute and entertaining!
There are several ways you can create a character your consumer is emotionally invested in. You can use a previous customer’s testimonial, tell a third-person story or even use yourself!
Strategic Storytelling is Still a Story
Though strategic storytelling is done in the hopes of creating brand awareness, it still needs to have all the components of a good story.
This means a beginning, middle, and end.
The beginning of your story is where you establish yourself. You introduce your character and the setting. The middle needs to have your character encountering a problem before they discover the solution to the problem – your brand!
Once you’ve created all the necessary elements of a good story, your readers should follow your character from beginning to end. Which is exactly where you want them to be.
Stories don’t always have a definitive ending either. Leave the future open to curiosity and build anticipation.
A Story of Hope
Done right, strategic storytelling leaves the reader with hope for the future. You aren’t just providing them with a solution to their current problem, but a positive outlook of what’s to come.
Strategic storytelling connects people in profound ways. If your audience feels they are on this journey together with you, they feel optimistic about what’s to come.
Leave Them Wanting More
Strategic storytelling should leave your readers wanting more. Once your consumer is invested in your brand, you’re in a great position.
From here, you need to create teasers that keep your audience coming back for more. This can be done using perpetual marketing.
It’s important to use multiple forms of media to tell your story. Then you can reach a wide variety of consumers on many levels.
Videos are another great tool. Videos help you show customers your story rather than just tell them. Your audience is paying attention to the story vs. the product, while subconsciously being drawn to the product.
Consider Potential Obstacles
Not everyone will instantly jump on your brand’s bandwagon because you tell a good story. The best way to combat possible pitfalls in your strategic storytelling is to plan for opposition before you encounter it.
Why might my audience disagree with what I’m saying?
What might stop them from taking the action I suggest?
How can I address these objections in my strategic storytelling?
Kindra Hall, a national campaign storyteller and former board member of the National Storytelling Network, says that because she is a public speaker and her business is branding herself, she considers what immediate objections her audience might have to her, personally.
Hall opens with a childhood memory.
“If I tell a story of when I was younger, every person in that room goes back to when they were younger. When we’re younger, we’re all a little awkward. We’re all trying to find our way. So, if I can introduce them to that person, they like me more for the person standing in front of them.”
Strategic storytelling may be a non-traditional way of increasing brand awareness, but it is extremely effective. Storytelling stands out from traditional marketing campaigns.
Your brand story is a powerful marketing tool you need to be using. There are marketing companies and programs designed to help you develop your brand story.
If you’re not sure where to begin, we’re a great place to start!
WINNING THE ATTENTION-GRAB GAME
Here’s a fact: we’re a society that wants to be entertained.
We binge watch, scroll and get our news in headline form.
We are over-scheduled, constantly busy and stress out. And I’m as guilty as everyone.
We’re not reading anymore, we’re skimming. (By the way, that’s why I’m writing in short sentences and even shorter paragraphs.)
Tell your story so people start talking about you.
I’ve already mentioned a million times that our attention spans are shorter than a goldfish. Well, it seems as if it is getting shorter every day.
And all the means is what worked last year to grab attention and earn new customers just isn’t working anymore.
Frankly, it’s time to pivot
Telling stories is a great way to do that, but even that on its own isn’t enough.
You have to make them shorter, entertaining, authentic, and unique.
You earn the right to sell by serving and connecting with your ideal customers.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you aren’t finding much argument with what I’ve written so far.
But that doesn’t really answer the question of “What to do,” does it?
How to Win the Attention-Grab Game
1. Adapt & Experiment
Stick with the status quo and you lose. Plain and simple.
There are many different ways to adapt to the rapid changes in social media.
Some are free and time-consuming and some will cost you, yet save you time.
But if you want to use social media to grow your business, you need to be prepared to pay something.
Compared to traditional advertising of days gone by, social media is still a deal. We’ve just have to get used to the new normal.
I know you know that there is no magic pill and no single strategy will work for everyone.
That’s why adapting and experimenting is so important.
Whether you’re monitoring your audience’s hashtags, trying out different social platforms, experimenting with posting schedules or testing new features, there is simply too much activity in your feeds to get noticed without paying.
2. Your Visuals and Words Matter
Visuals are a must and they have to be scroll-stopping worthy. And the first words you audience reads better be entertaining and interesting.
Here are few tips:
- Use humor. Life is too serious and if you can lighten it for someone every now and then, consider it a win.
- Be human. People want to gather around other people like them. Share the bad, along with the good and the ugly, along with the pretty.
- Be opinionated. Remember, you don’t care about catching the attention of someone who isn’t likely to do business with you – so don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
3. Share In Real-Time
Tap into what’s happening now. Look for local and national events that interest your ideal customer.
Join the conversation, share relevant content, and be present. It can be time-consuming, but planning a few real-time campaigns can go a long way.
4. Be on the Right Platforms
It’s better to stand out on a few platforms than to be spread too thin and put out uninteresting content that isn’t getting you noticed.
I suggest starting by focusing on mastering one platform why dabbling in one or two others.
What does that mean exactly?
Trying to master more than one at a time can be time-consuming and distracting.
But it’s easier to master a platform with a bit of presence when you start the process.
Which means don’t ignore the other platforms your customers are hanging out on just to master one.
It goes without saying, that you should choose platforms where your ideal customers are active.
Note: Just because a social media platform is the right one today, doesn’t mean it will be the right one tomorrow. A good indicator that you are on the right social media platform comes from monitoring what your competitors are doing, what your audience is saying and how your engagement is progressing.
5. Use Anecdotes and Story Scenes
Anecdotes are a great way to let people into your world and get to know you.
Pair anecdotes with stunning visuals with notable events from the calendar and you have content that is going a step above and positioned to grab attention.
What you need to know about story scenes:
Story scenes are the building block of your stories – the stories designed to help move the customer through the journey towards making a buying decision.
The reason why story scenes are perfect for social media is they depend on starting with action and getting straight to the point.
Sometimes they are short and sweet and sometimes they are a bit longer and they are a perfect way to experiment with different types and lengths of content.
Now you might be wondering if we have such a short attention span, why experiment with long content?
Because if the story is good enough, people will pay attention. And you want people paying attention to your content as long as possible.
Inside of Powered by Story, I walk you through the creation of 13 story scenes designed to turn browsers to buyers.
And to help you get started, I’ve taken three of those story scenes that are perfect to help elevate your storytelling on social media. This workbook is rapid-fire story crafting at its best. Enjoy!
I read. A lot. And as a result, I pick up quotes and tidbits that I use in my business, in life and even with my teenagers. As someone who helps small business owners tell better stories, I have to spend some time getting their buy-in that telling a better brand story will actually help their business. There is an automatic wall that goes up because they don’t think they can do it, they don’t think they’ll be good at it, and it isn’t something that will necessarily give them a quick win.
My job is to help them overcome their inner critic and to begin to see themselves as a storyteller. Storytelling is a long-term marketing strategy for sure, but there are quick wins to be had, everyone can do it, and everyone has the potential to be good at it. Like most things, storytelling is a skill. So, when I set out to convince small business owners that a better brand story has the power to transform their business.
I use the following quotes to help me convince small business owners that a better brand story has the power to transform their business.
My 10 Favorite Business Storytelling Quotes
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
“It is safe to assume that any individual or group you wish to influence has access to more wisdom than they currently use. It is also safe to assume that they also have considerably more facts than they can process effectively. Giving them, even more facts adds to the wrong pile. They don’t need more facts. They need help finding their wisdom. Contrary to popular belief, bad decisions are rarely made because people don’t have all the facts.”
“The storytelling mind is allergic to uncertainty, randomness, and coincidence. It is addicted to meaning. If the storytelling mind cannot find meaningful patterns in the world, it will try to impose them. In short, the storytelling mind is a factory that churns out true stories when it can, but will manufacture lies when it can’t.”
“Vanity sets in when you love what you’re selling so much that you assume everyone else will too. You start to believe your idea will sell itself if you can just reach out and tell people about it. You’re wrong.”
“And the best preparation for writing any story is to know with clarity what your protagonists’ worldview is, and more to the point, where and why it’s off base. Thus you have a clear view of the world as your protagonist sees it and insight into how she therefore interprets and reacts to, everything that happens to her. It’s what allows you to construct a plot that forces her to reevaluate what she was so damn sure was true when the story began. That is what your story is really about, and what readers stay up long past their bedtime to find out.”
“Combining storytelling, humanity, and laughter will give you a huge advantage in your public speaking and the odds are good that you already have all the raw material you need.”
“To make our communications more effective, we need to shift our thinking from “What information do I need to convey?” to “What questions do I want my audience to ask?”
“The audience does not need to tune themselves to you—you need to tune your message to them. Skilled presenting requires you to understand their hearts and minds and create a message to resonate with what’s already there.”
“The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.”
“Survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention…the capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”