Getting your new small business’s name out there can be quite a daunting challenge in 2023. Not only are people bombarded by advertising nearly 24/7, certainly in the digital realm, but they’re dealing with all kinds of economic pressures and personal challenges as well. This makes it very difficult to elevate your small business above the noise to bring customers through your doors.
As cliché as it might sound, the solution to this is storytelling. It’s a very human thing to remember stories and to want to connect emotionally to the people around us, and this applies just as much to businesses as it does to making friends. We’ve told stories for thousands of years, and the ones with the greatest emotional impact are still being told in the modern age.
If you can connect with your customers through the story of your business, you’re in a much more favourable position than another business that’s yelling about the features of its products with Facebook ads that do little more than irritate people.
Let’s take a look at how you can do this.
Build Emotional Connections
When telling your story through your marketing, the point is to evoke emotions in your audience. An audience you’ve connected with on a deeper level is more likely to remember your brand and ultimately become loyal returning customers.
Again, this sounds cliché, but it works – humans are indeed wired for emotion (whether they admit it or not), and appealing to this side of them through stories that tap into emotions like joy, empathy, or nostalgia has the greatest potential to connect with them in a way that cold, hard, facts-driven product pitches just can’t.
For example, a coffee shop that emphasises in its marketing the fact that it’s family-run, and has been for generations, immediately conveys warmth and familiarity. Adding that the coffee they source is of the finest quality thanks to the founder’s passion for good java, and viewers of that material are more likely to be enticed to visit the shop to see for themselves.
Showcase your values and authenticity
If you manage to have more than a surface-level conversation with the people around you, you’ll likely discover that there is a thirst for authenticity in modern people. That’s also a thirst for storytelling. They’re looking for things to connect to that have value and a deeper meaning, and by showcasing your business’s values by telling stories in your marketing, you can tap into that thirst.
If you share things like how you got started, the obstacles you overcame, and the mission your business seeks to fulfill, you have a great chance of resonating with your audience and ultimately building trust with them. This is especially true of people that share your values, but you’ll never find those people unless you share your own first.
As an example, if you as the business owner value sustainability, you can share this with your audience with stories that show your commitment to ethical sourcing, environmentally-friendly business practices, and paying your staff a fair wage. Since many people share these values, your stories that demonstrate this will very likely connect with an audience that likes what you’re doing.
Stories make for memorable brands
Remember our earlier statement that said humans are wired to remember stories? It’s 100% true, and by telling great stories that relate to what you do is how you will make your brand stick in the minds of your audience. And an audience that remembers you is an audience that will talk about you and spread your influence by word of mouth.
Even IT companies can do this. Instead of bombarding poor Facebook users with stats and figures about the latest products and solutions that you supply, they can talk about the problems that those solutions solve.
Case studies can help tremendously here, as they tell the story of a client’s problem, the solution you suggested, and ultimately how it all worked out. Stories with titles like “Business Rescue: How Moving To The Cloud Saved This Business” are far more interesting and eye-catching than ads that say “Spend less by moving to the cloud”.
Just like telling a story around a campfire builds a sense of community and belonging, so too does sharing stories about your brand bring people into the community you’re building and make them feel warm and fuzzy. That gives them a sense that their interactions with you are about more than just a transaction, and encourages loyalty that is about more than just the product they buy from you.
Companies that offer personally transformative services, like gyms, have a great opportunity to tell the wider world about the difference they make in their clients’ lives. Sharing someone’s journey of transformation from being tired and unfit to being active and competitive thanks to the ongoing support and encouragement of trainers is a great way to show the company’s commitment to community and belonging, for example.
Yes, all of this is really just a fancy marketing technique, we won’t deny it. But it’s marketing that resonates with people on a relatable level thanks to humans’ love of storytelling, and it, therefore, has an excellent chance to be more effective than other forms of marketing that are more dry and facts-driven.
We encourage you to give it a try the next time you spin up a marketing campaign. Who knows, it might just work for you.