Category Archives: Storytelling

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How to Create Your Core Story and Message

How to Create Your Core Story and Message written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, it pays to have a good story. Storytelling has been around since the dawn of time, and a compelling story has the power to inspire readers, make them think, and motivate them to take action.

Creating a core story—one that speaks to the heart of what you do, who you are here to serve, and why—can guide all of your marketing messaging and empower you to connect with people all throughout the customer journey.

So how do you develop a powerful core story and message? Follow these steps.

Develop Client Personas

While your first impulse might be that your core story should be about you, that’s actually not the case. Instead, your client should be the hero of the story. By placing them at the center of your core story, you’re guaranteed to establish a message that resonates with them.

So writing a great core story starts with building your ideal client. To build your ideal client, you take a look at data you have on your existing clients (things like how much revenue they generate for your business, and whether or not they regularly refer you to others). From there, you will begin to see patterns emerge. Most of your best clients will have certain attributes, behaviors, and beliefs in common.

Once you’ve gleaned all you can from looking through the facts and figures internally, reach out to those clients who have emerged as your top sources of business. Conduct interviews, asking them about the things that matter most to them. Why do they love your business? What led them to pick you over the competition? What keeps them up at night? And how do you offer the perfect solution to those problems?

Armed with data and information straight from the source, you can now create your ideal client persona, or as we might call them for the sake of storytelling metaphors, your hero.

Define the Antagonist

Every great fairytale has a hero. But the story would go nowhere without a villain to challenge our beloved protagonist. Now that you understand who your ideal client, or hero, really is, it’s time to get specific about defining their problem.

Oftentimes, your hero isn’t entirely aware of the problem they have. They may be unaware of what the real problem is, or they might have difficulty identifying what it is that truly ails them. For example, let’s say you run a remodeling business. Your client might say that their problem is that they have an old, ugly, outdated kitchen. But in reality, their problem is that they don’t have a functional family gathering space.

They’re defining their problem in purely practical terms, but it’s really bigger than that. What you bring to the table with your remodeling services is the opportunity for a better life, by creating a kitchen where a family can relax, spend time together, and create memories.

When thinking about the antagonist in your story, it’s important to look beyond that surface-level pain point. Very frequently, what really plagues your hero at their core is something emotional, not practical.

Understand Your Role

When you’re thinking about how to market your business, it’s natural that your first impulse is to place yourself at the center of the story. But by now you know, your ideal client is the protagonist. So who are you?

You’re the wise mentor, helping your hero solve their problems and paving the way for them to succeed. We see this trope in literature and movies all the time—think: Atticus Finch, Gandalf, or Mr. Miyagi.

When you go to define your own role in your core story, it helps to think about what you bring to the table. How do you serve that role of guide or mentor in a way that’s different from everyone else, and why should your audience care?

Write the Core Story

Now that you have assembled all of the elements of a great fairytale—hero, villain, and wise mentor—it’s time to write your story. Start by establishing your hero at the center of your tale. Make it very clear who your ideal customer is and what they look like, so other similar prospects can recognize themselves in that hero right away.

Then introduce the villain. Make sure that they have a definite picture of what it is that really ails them, even if it’s something different from what they might initially assume is the crux of their issue.

From there, establish yourself as the guide who has the know-how and tools to take your hero where they want to go. And wrap it up by showing what their life looks like once you solve their problem. Take them from the dark days of a problem-filled life to a sunny future where you’ve guided them out of the darkness and into the light.

The final step is to provide them with a call to action (or, as you might say in fairytale parlance, a challenge to succeed). Essentially, you must say, “You’ve seen the struggles you face and the opportunity that we present to help you get to a better place; are you ready to take this journey with us?”

Use the Core Story to Guide Your Messaging

Now that you’ve crafted your story from these key elements, this core story needs to guide all of your messaging going forth. The story can’t just exist in a vacuum, it must be deployed at each stage of the customer journey, to guide your hero forward to the solution that you offer.

Think about how your story has the power to influence your hero along their journey.

  • Know and Like: Think of this as the first few chapters in a book. You’re giving your audience the chance to meet all of the key players in the story. They get to identify themselves as the hero, see the villain that they’re up against, and first meet the mentor who might be able to help them make it through.
  • Trust and Try: Now that your hero knows what their problem is, you have the opportunity to serve up your solution. This is where you make the case for your expertise, proving you’re well-positioned to guide them through the clashes with their villainous problem.
  • Buy: Here, you provide them with step-by-step guidance to understanding the solution you offer. By providing a great onboarding process, how-to and tutorial materials, and customer support, you essentially become that mentor, sticking by their side as they face the trials and tribulations of their journey.
  • Repeat and Refer: By now, you’ve helped them through to the end of their individual journey, and if you’ve told your story well and delivered on your promises, they’ll feel comfortable returning to you again and bringing some friends with them.

Share That Message Everywhere

The final step in the development of your core story and message is to make sure that, once you know what it is, you share it far and wide. This starts on your website. Your homepage should clearly outline your core story, front and center. This should be a short, sweet, high-level view of the story. Think of it as the blurb on the back of a book—something that intrigues your viewers and encourages them to open up the cover and read more!

From there, you can create other content that’s grounded in your story and shared across other digital marketing channels. From social media to email marketing to video to podcasts, there’s always a way to incorporate your core story in all that you do.

When it comes to deciding where to tell your story, it makes sense to go back to your hero. Target the channels where you’re most likely to encounter that ideal client.

Creating a brand story is one of the most effective ways to connect on an emotional level with clients and prospects. When you center your story around their needs, problems, and wants, you cast yourself as the wise, sympathetic mentor who can help them move past the hurdles in their life and achieve great things.

How To Write an Effective Brand Story

How To Write an Effective Brand Story written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Every business has competitors. No business will ever be the only option available to a client or customer. So every brand has to do some work to differentiate themselves from the competition. Why would someone pick you over that other guy or gal down the street? What unique value are you bringing to the table that they just can’t get with anyone else?

This is where storytelling comes in. Sure, there are a number of businesses out there that could theoretically solve your prospect’s problem. But by crafting a compelling brand story, you can differentiate yourself as the brand that understands the problem the best and has the most thoughtful solution to the issue.

There are five key elements to any effective brand story. Here, I’ll walk you through them, and give you the tips you need to create a statement that sets your business apart.

Address the Problem

People don’t seek your business out because of the product or service that you offer. They seek you out because they have a problem that needs fixing, and they think that yours could be the business to solve it.

The first step to proving that you are the best business to fix their issue is clearly defining the problem at hand. When you’re able to articulate the pain that your prospects are feeling, they immediately feel at ease: Here’s a business that gets what I need, and likely has the know-how to deliver.

So a great brand story starts with calling out your ideal customer’s problem, frustration, or challenge. Take, for example, a brand like Glossier. In recent years, they’ve squeezed into the crowded beauty space and now have a valuation of over $1 billion. They identify their customers’ issue right on their home page: “Beauty inspired by real life. Glossier is a new approach to beauty. It’s about fun and freedom and being OK with yourself today. We make intuitive, uncomplicated products designed to live with you.”

They acknowledge that their ideal customers have too many options when it comes to beauty care, that those high-fashion brands make them feel like they can’t live up to those impossible beauty standards, and that the steps to a beauty care regimen have gotten more and more complex over the years. They’re looking to pare things back and offer a handful of great products that get the job done, rather than complicate things with some other product you now need to cram into your medicine cabinet.

Paint a Picture of a Problem-Free World

Okay, so now you’ve gotten your prospect’s attention. You understand what their world is like, and you’re on their side: You know there’s a problem that needs solving. The next step is to show that a problem-free world is possible. What would your prospect’s life look like without the problem in it?

Returning to the Glossier example, they address this by sharing real-world stories of women who have embraced their intuitive approach to skincare. They include pictures of their smiling, naturally-glowing faces, and the women tell stories of a quick and easy beauty routine that still allows them plenty of time to enjoy their morning coffee before heading off to work.

How Did We Get Here?

Sure, your ideal customers have a problem, but now that you’ve called it out, you want to make sure they feel like they’re not alone. Visitors to your website shouldn’t get the sense that they’ve been called out; you want them to feel like it’s not their fault they’ve gotten into this mess!

The team at Glossier does this by acknowledging that they’re just like their ideal customer. They say that they’re “beauty editors [who have] tried it all.” They’ve walked into a Sephora and picked up every serum, eye cream, face mask, and eye shadow palette under the sun, just like their ideal clients have. And from this place of knowledge, they now create products that are uncomplicated and just work.

Outline a Way Forward

Now that you’ve addressed the issue, acknowledged that a better way is possible, and made your prospects feel that you understand how they got here, now you can show them another way.

Outline a way forward for them. Show that by taking a first step with you, they can move towards getting out of this mess and finding themselves on the other side, in a problem-free place.

Glossier does this on their site by then introducing their core products that are designed to simplify a skincare routine. There are only a handful of products, and they’re the basics anyone would need (like a moisturizer and face wash).

Invite Them to Contact You

Once you’ve proven your value by identifying your ideal customer’s problem, acknowledging that they’re not the source of the issue, and offering up your way forward, towards a brighter, problem-free future, it’s time to invite visitors to reach out. You’ve made your case for what you bring to the table, now it’s up to them to contact you to learn more.

Glossier does this at the bottom of their site. In addition to products that can be purchased online, they invite visitors to “Meet [them] in real life” by finding a store or pop-up location, and then they offer up their newsletter as a way to stay up-to-date on product launches and events.

Getting your brand to pop in the crowded online marketplace is about more than having a spiffy logo or memorable slogan. It’s even bigger than offering the best product or service out there. The secret to standing out is telling a compelling brand story. And when you follow the steps above and include those essential elements, you can guarantee that you immediately build a sense of connection between your brand and prospects.

Why Storytelling Can Help Your Business’ Bottom Line

Why Storytelling Can Help Your Business’ Bottom Line written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you’re thinking about how to promote your business, it can be tempting to focus solely on your products and services. After all, when you boil any business down to its most essential element it is about getting consumers to purchase the product or service that’s being offered.

But how you reach the end goal of closing that sale is at the heart of any good marketing strategy. And the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of businesses out there that can offer consumers a solution that’s very similar to yours. Plus, with the internet, location is not a barrier in the same way it used to be. So how do you stand out from your global competition?

Storytelling is a great way to build a personal connection with your customers, which is the differentiator that will keep them coming back to you, year after year, rather than turning to your rivals.

It Instantly Establishes a Human Connection

In today’s digital age, it’s now possible to be a long-term customer of a business and never interact with an actual human being at the company. For online giants like Amazon, what keeps people coming back is the fact that their prices are competitive and they have everything you could ever want; Amazon is highly convenient.

As the owner of a smaller business, you’re never going to be able to compete with the likes of an Amazon on those fronts. You need to find another way to stand out. A human connection is the reason someone chooses to buy from a local business rather than the faceless multinational corporate.

When you embrace storytelling that shows off your business’s personality, highlights fun facts about your team members, and makes customers feel like they really know the people behind the brand, that establishes a meaningful, lasting connection. For some tips on how to build a human connection with storytelling, check out this post.

It Helps You Stand Out on Social

So much of online marketing now is about social media. And because the purpose of these platforms is creating connection and telling stories, they’re the perfect place to employ smart storytelling techniques.

This starts by embracing the platform you’re on. Storytelling on you company’s Twitter account will be handled in a very different manner than the storytelling you do on Instagram. Twitter is of course focused on the written word, while Instagram is about telling stories through images. Using these different media to weave together a cohesive story across platforms is another great way to build trust and brand awareness.

When prospects encounter your brand across various social media platforms, but are always met with the same voice and point of view, this establishes your business as trustworthy and authoritative. Plus, when you take the time to actually interact with people—provide direct answers to their questions, react to photos they share that are related to your business, or otherwise undertake personalized engagement—you make your fans feel seen and special.

Once you’ve made a good impression on social, that helps you drive those prospects to your website, where you can hit them with your comprehensive storytelling that’s designed to move them through the customer journey.

It Guides the Customer Through Their Journey

The customer journey is not as clear-cut as it used to be. Because there are a myriad of ways someone can encounter your brand for the first time, it’s trickier for marketers to create a clear path from first interaction through to repeat business and referrals.

However, brand storytelling on your website can help you achieve this goal. Your website is the one asset online where you have complete control of all the content, so take advantage of that. Design your site so that the home page immediately addresses the concerns of your prospects and tells them who you are and why you can help. A short video that shares your mission is a great, bite-sized way to let people know who you are.

From there, you want to structure your website in a logical way that moves customers through the stages of their journey, with storytelling as your guide. The home page is the start of the story: the solution you offer. The next pages should address the middle of the story: how you fix their problem and why you’re the right people for the job. The end of the story is where the prospect reaches out to learn more and become a customer.

It Drives Conversions

Sometimes business owners focus solely on the ultimate conversion: the sale. But in reality, there are multiple conversions all along the customer journey. If a first-time visitor to your website comes back again several days later, that is a conversion. If that person then requests a white paper on a topic of interest, that’s a conversion, too.

Using smart storytelling that’s targeted at prospects and customers based on where they are in their journey, is a great way to drive those conversions.

Think about it this way: let’s say you have a video that covers your company’s origin story. It tells a compelling story, and is great at grabbing the attention of prospects. But this asset is not going to serve you well with those repeat customers who already know your business’s history. They need another story that speaks directly to where they are in their history with your business, and drives them to make the next conversion on their journey (which, for a repeat customer would be to refer you to someone else).

This kind of customer you’d want to greet with another story. Perhaps you create a referral program and pair it with a note that explains why you’re so passionate about sharing your business’s solutions with the friends of your existing customers.

Just like you wouldn’t hand a toddler a copy of Wuthering Heights (or a high schooler a copy of Goodnight Moon, for that matter!), driving conversions is about greeting different people with different stories.

Storytelling is at the heart of any strong marketing strategy. Knowing what your business does best and sharing why you’re passionate about your work is the way to win trust (and customers). Effective storytelling will keep your bottom line healthy and your customers coming back for more.