Ever wondered why some articles really stick with you and others – even when they seem really relevant to you – just don’t? Personally, I have a terrible memory – I literally have forgot my pin number for no reason after 4 years of having the same card – but when it comes to a good story, it just seems to stick better. This is because our brains are programmed to absorb information through stories.
As a business, your number one goal is to forge better relationships with your clients so you can make your business better and ultimately more profitable – so what better way to connect with people than to tell a good story? Something they can genuinely relate to, that they’ll remember your brand for. If you’re wondering how to use stories to transform your content marketing, just follow these steps below and you’ll be well ahead of the competition.
1. How to find your business story
First thing you need to know is – your customers don’t care about your business. Especially on the internet. If you’re selling anything online, you’re instantly suspicious, and you’ll want to build trust before moving onto any sort of selling. A great way to start building trust is to tell a true story, warts and all, and it doesn’t have to be about your business. People connect with people first and foremost.
One thing many businesses fall foul of is hiding the mistakes they’ve made and presenting themselves as this perfect being – and it’s very hard for your audience to empathise with that because, no real person has never made a mistake. So the first thing I want you to do, is to think back to a time when you made a mistake. Every story needs a hurdle – or it’s boring!
It needs to be something that your audience can relate to; if you’re a B2B this might be easier, because you can relate to other entrepreneurs quite easily, because your are one. If you’re B2C – think about when you first came up with your idea; what mistakes did you make? Being vulnerable can make it obvious that you’re being honest, which can really connect you with your audience. For example, if you started a cleaning business, maybe you had a complaint because you didn’t tidy the room, you simply vacuumed and dusted. Show the complaint, and then go into how you turned it around – maybe this spurred you on to check other cleaning businesses reviews and you noticed other people had the same complaints. And that’s when you decided to make your business more about tidying, not just cleaning.
To sum up; find a hurdle your customers can relate to and use it as the problem in your story you had to overcome. Nothing is more trustworthy on the web than someone being honest with their mistakes.
2. Writing your business story
Writing can be really daunting for any business owner; and if you’re really struggling, it’s okay to hire someone to do it for you. But make sure they understand what you’re aiming to do, and be sure to give them as much information about your struggles and how you overcame them. It’s absolutely fine to write as you would speak; on the internet, people aren’t looking to bash you for your grammar – they’re looking for a good story. If you can provide that, that’s all that matters. In fact, shorter sentences have been proven to be more digestible – and better for search engines too.
Normal story telling follows this pattern, which can be a great place to start if you’re stuck:
- Set the scene with something relatable/normal; using the example above it might be “Dusting round Mrs. Fischer’s old 70’s lamp shade, I looked around and thought to myself, “Ah good. A job well done, and with 5 minutes to spare!”. I packed up my things, and waved good bye while taking one last sip of her Twinings english breakfast tea. What a lovely lady, I thought. “
- Introduce the problem/struggle in the story. This might be, “As I pulled up to my next job, I had an email. “New Review From User “Fischer182″. How fast she is with technology! I pulled it up and suddenly felt like I’d been hit by a car. One Star. She’d written how I hadn’t tidied her magazines and plates away, and left my tea mug dirty. I was so upset; having only started my business a few weeks before, this could ruin me.”
- Describe how you turned the situation around. This bit is where you can shine – show how you dealt with the issue and learned from it. You might say, “I responded and let her know I was so sorry, I hadn’t intended to be a tidying service. But just as I was about to send it, I thought – why wouldn’t I be a tidying service? People hate tidying up, sometimes more than cleaning. So that’s when I decided – Cleaning Co was to become Neat & Tidy co. I focussed my efforts on making sure our company was the best in tidying; not just cleaning. I trained myself up – seriously, there are tidying courses out there – and started to gain a real reputation for making a home tidy from top to bottom – not just clean.”
- Wrap up your story – and don’t forget a delicate call to action. You’ll want to end on a strong, memorable note. So try to add some useful information for your audience here, and confirm your message. You also don’t want to lose their interest at the end of the story – so calls to action can be useful. This doesn’t mean add a sales prompt at the end – if this is your ‘about’ page, they may be unlikely to be ready to buy. But gently indicate where you’d suggest they go to next; maybe you have some great testimonials they’d like to see or a helpful blog they can look at for more information. It might go something like this, “To this day, I take tidying to another level – and I have never left another dirty cup of tea at a clients house either! If you’d like to find out more about my services, why not see what my previous clients have said here”
- If you take away just one tip today – write as you would speak naturally. This is going to help gain trust. If you don’t tell stories in the way I’ve set out above, it might not be natural for you – so feel free to go a different way. Just remember to try to be as honest and transparent as possible, and relate to your audience wherever you can.
Use storytelling in your content marketing
You can use good storytelling as a major asset in your content marketing efforts. People love sharing good, relevant stories – so if you know of a story that relates to your industry, especially if no ones written about it yet, get writing. Getting people to share your articles online helps to drive traffic and increase your search engine visibility – so you’d be mad not to try it. Do it better than your competitors. And don’t forget to promote it!