image credit: The NeverEnding Story
In a lot of ways, people don't buy products anymore -- they buy your business's story. That means companies must constantly refine their stories and present them in innovative ways.
A brand story envelops your mission as a company, your culture and your history: How did you get started? Why do you do what you do? Where are you going?
Because shoppers are so connected through social networks, marketers should aim to present their stories in such a way that people will want to share them and their friends will want to connect with them. One advantage of social media is that we can have some control of our story. We can either passively hope people find our story appealing -- or we can intentionally shape it to try to resonate with prospective customers.
Here are a few suggestions on how to convey a more powerful story:
Related: Storytelling Tips from the Campaign Trail
Develop your "why."
One of the best things a company can do is be transparent about why it is doing what it does. My favorite model to help brands push past the "what" and "how" of their story and find their "why" is Simon Sinek's Golden Circle Theory. This theory focuses on "Why do you wake up in the morning?" and "Why are you so passionate about this?"
Not quite sure how to go about brainstorming your "why"? Try these suggestions:
- Ask your customers: Put up a blog or Facebook post asking your customers why they stick with you.
- Ask your employees: Your team is the closest to what you are doing and the why behind it, so ask employees why they work for you and what motivates them to come in every day.
- Read your web mentions: Google your company's name and see how people are talking about you out on the web.
Share your "why" in distinctive ways.
Make your story engaging and easy to share. Social media consumes one out of every five minutes spent online, according to a recent study by Reston, Va.-based digital analytics firm comScore. That means your audience is most likely spending a significant amount of time online sharing content. Here are a few ideas for getting customers to share your content:
- Put a video on your site. Rather than just telling your story in text in the About Us section of your website, create a video as well. It could feature employees talking about why they work for you and how they hope the company's products or services will help customers. Be sure to make it personal.
- Post photos. One of the easiest ways to enhance your story is to add images to your site or social network. If you have a cool office or store, showcase it. Also, post photos of customers and your team to highlight the people behind your brand's success.
- Add a few quotes. Many sites put up long testimonials from customers, but you should go further. Get quotes from your leadership, customers and business partners that help tell the "why" of your story. Then showcase only the words or sentences that really tell the story and give them a beautiful visual treatment.
Related: How to Be Unforgettable Online
Give your "why" more real estate.
Is your company's story tucked away in the footer of your website with an "Our Story" link? If so, it's time to give your story greater visibility. Ideally, your story should be laced throughout the text on your entire site, but that can be challenging. Instead, start with some of these baby steps toward giving your story more of the spotlight:
- Put it on the home page. Rethink which content should get this prime real estate. What could be better than putting a video up on your home page that describes why your company exists and why you do what you do? Tell people something that encourages them to learn more about you.
- Link to it from social profiles. Companies are investing heavily in social media and teams to manage those conversations. Make your story a critical part of that interaction. Link to videos or website pages that help your followers understand what makes you special.
- Write about it on your company blog. Your blog can be a great place to call out your story. Transparency in business resonates with customers, so talk openly about both your company's struggles and successes.
Marketers should rethink what exactly they are selling. With so many products out there and so much noise in the social sphere, it's your story that can really differentiate you. Careful attention to how you tell that story and how you showcase it can make all the difference.
Related: Big-Brand Results with Small-Business Budgets