Successful marketing at it's core is really a brand telling their story in an engaging way. This can be a brand retrospectively drawing from it’s rich heritage, or the story of how a start-up came from a very simple idea (e.g. renting out a room in San Francisco with a blow up bed like Airbnb). Identifying these core formation stories, and having clear sense of who you are as a business is essential because without these narratives, you cannot invite customers to participate in your story. User generated content (UGC) is powerful stuff — tapping into the power of your customersto share how they use your products or experience your brand — but brands can't have success without first knowing who they are.
How do you build this strong foundation, leading to exciting marketing possibilities? By going back to basics: defining what your story is and how to best tell it through your content.
The pressure to deliver the perfect content on a regular basis can be daunting or even parallelizing for many business owners. “How can I cut through the noise of numerous blogs, newsletters, and social media posts, and keep people interested?”
Rather than overthinking or avoiding it, we ask our clients to approach creating their marketing strategy by focusing on the reason they started their business in the first place. This can be achieved by a simple exercise of writing down the answers to the following questions:
- Why and how did you start your service or create your product?
- Who it is for?
- How can it benefit others and makes their lives better?
- What makes you stand out from similar businesses?
The answers to these questions contribute to telling your business story, and also remind you:
- Who your target audience is, how they use your service or product, and how to keep them front and center to every thing you do
- What your unique selling points are and what makes your business authentic?
Being true to your brand and expressing your story in your unique voice creates authentic connections with your clients. (Tweet this!)
Sometimes these basic principals can get muddy when you try different tactics to keep up with the competition and parts of your brand’s identify get lost along the way. So this back-to-basics exercise can help with the storytelling process and the answers can use as a reference point for communicating to your audience and customers through your marketing platforms.
Here are some ways to integrate your story, and your customer's stories, into your marketing communications:
- Work in response to your customer's feedback: Most customer service is done through social media these days, and the same can be done through other areas of marketing. Most of our blog posts are inspired by questions or conversations that come up during client calls and meetings. We craft our blog posts with their needs in mind, when we write we aim to give the most prescriptive advice possible to ensure we're answering their questions and giving them useful nuggets of information to take away and use.
- Tell your story with your dream customer in mind: Someone said to us in a meeting recently; "I am setting up my business to look and sound like what my dream customers will find appealing. When they find me, they'll take one look and think 'yes, I want that." This vision is inspiring. What do your dream customers talk about online? Who do they follow and listen to? What is their aesthetic like? Keeping your story's content and visuals in line with what they are drawn to.
- Invite your customers to participate in the story through calls to action: pose questions by asking your customers what they think about a new product or design decision you are trying to make. Get them involved and make them part of creation process. Set relevant topics on social media and ask them to show you how they use your product during this time of year or how they implement your advice-in-action. This can be done as an on-going conversation or as a contest through Instagram or Twitter with the use of a relevant hashtag, and by tagging your brand in their Facebook posts.
What is your story and how can you get your customers involved in telling that story?
Get your team together (make it a fun festive themed team building exercise) to perform this exercise and start brainstorming some ideas and make a plan to doing some fun marketing campaigns for 2015!
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