Everybody loves a good story, and if you’re a business owner, you should get good at telling them. Storytelling marketing is a long-term digital strategy that establishes a human connection with customers and demonstrates your authenticity. If you do it well, you’ll be on consumers’ radar long before they’re ready to make a purchase. We talked to marketing experts and showroom staff to learn how to incorporate storytelling into their marketing strategies. Here are the four crucial steps.
1. Know your brand story
Before anything else, you need to understand your company’s story and brand identity. What’s the history of your business? Is your staff uniquely qualified? What inspired you to start your business? Ask yourself these questions to get to the core of your identity and write down the answers.
Once you have it boiled down to a paragraph or two, add your story to your About page. Raymond Sjolseth, founder of marketing agency 10twelve, recommends distilling it to 3-5 concise bullet points for your site. Your brand story will be the foundation and common thread for your future storytelling.
“Whatever your mission is or whatever your reasons for operating the way you do or whatever markets you are serving, that all has to tie in,” Sjolseth says. “Cohesiveness is important and everything has to tie back to home.”
2. Showcase your staff
Think of your staff as the main characters in the ongoing story of your business. Showcasing your staff online simply makes you more human. Lights Fantastic in Austin, TX spotlights each showroom employee with headshots and short bios on its site. Lighting Consultant Shelley Kravet says this demonstrates Lights Fantastic’s unique ability to guide clients through today’s complex and dynamic lighting landscape.
“I think it’s very important when we’re faced with internet competition to show that we are a real working showroom with people that have the experience,” Kravet says. “Our company takes care in who they put in charge of your project.”
3. Engage with your community
Demonstrating a connection with your local or industry community ties your story to a larger narrative. If your staff participates in a fundraiser or has a blast mingling at the latest market event, snap some photos to share online.
Clive Daniel Home in Naples, FL, regularly posts photos from local charity events and was especially active in showing community support in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Daniel Lubner, CEO and President, says the company also shares interior photo shoots from its builder partners to emphasize its relationships in the industry.
4. Go behind the scenes
The way to establishing authenticity is through transparency, Sjolseth says, and behind-the-scenes content is the perfect tactic. What was your designer’s process for their latest project? How did you tackle that latest showroom installation? Give viewers a window into your day-to-day operations, and they’ll have a strong idea of who you are.
Clive Daniel Home often posts behind-the-scenes shots from happenings around the showroom. Lubner says about 95 percent of the photos the company posts are original, compared to many retailers that mainly post product images. Offering content that prioritizes brand over product gives viewers a more robust sense of your business.
“When we show what’s going on behind the curtain,” Lubner says, “we are able to generate even more hype (almost like watching a preview for a highly-anticipated film or Netflix series release), viewership and overall fanship onboarding.”
Compelling storytelling marketing will grab a viewer’s attention in the short-term and turn that emotional response into a long-term investment. Ultimately, storytelling comes down to letting your audience in on your process, mission and personality.