Marketing Your Story
It Starts With a Story
I read a lot. As I type, I have 26 tabs open in my browser with blogs and articles I need to read to see what is worth sharing with you. I also read a lot for my grad school classes. And, as you would expect, I also love to read novels in my spare time. Most of the blogs, articles, and school readings don’t have much in common with the novels I read so I took notice when the intro paragraph of a business blog I was reading included the following:
My grandfather emigrated from Russia in the late 1890s with just the clothes on his back. He got a job in a shipyard, saved money, followed his brother to a small town, Coatesville, outside Philadelphia, and started a corner luncheonette/newsstand across from one of the gates of Lukens Steel Company.
It’s a story! It makes me want to hear more. Doesn’t it make you want to hear more?
People Like Stories
Who doesn’t want to know about how a Russian immigrant at the turn-of-the-century went on to start a lunchstand that served a great steel company? It’s the kind of underdog story that we love. We want the seeming loser to be driven by his ingenuity to become a success. Isn’t that what you did when you started your business?
Maybe you aren’t an immigrant, but your dreams of business ownership are heroic. People in America love small businesses and want to support them—so tell them your story.
Tell Your Story
We wrote a blog about telling you who we are. It performed really well. Imagine what would happen if you told your customers your story. Did you grow up in the retail industry? Is your business a family business? For new stores, what inspired you to break into the industry out of all the other opportunities you could have undertaken?
These themes may seem trivial to you but modern day marketing is more than proclaiming I am the best. There’s plenty of that online. Successful marketing is about telling people who you are, why you deserve to earn their business, and what you will do to keep them loyal to your brand. Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of something; Gatsby nodding to you in the middle of a loud party.
It might take time to get to know your customers well enough to remember their name or a small fact that they shared during a visit, but the details of your story will bring them in for the first time or the next time.
Be a Character
With your story out there, keep it going. Social media posts are a great way to reconnect your existing customers with your ongoing successes, and maybe even setbacks. One of the meeting places for my group of college friends, an Irish pub, burned down on March 15, really bad timing for an Irish pub. They wrote about where their employees were working while they waited for insurance to fix their space. Customers came and helped pull the dollar bills that could be salvaged from the ashes. And when they reopened, it was a VIP grand opening celebration that I was glad to be a part of—and learned about it via their Facebook page. I wasn’t on the back end of the 2-day extravaganza, but I am confident that it was one of their most successful events considering I’ve never seen them turn people away and they were turning them away right and left when I attended the grand reopening..
Seeing stories like this online make potential new customers want to be a part of the story too and will bring them in.
I may be learning a lot of modern-day marketing lessons in my graduate school classes, but the theme that comes back time and time again is that classic storytelling is the best tool you have for marketing your store. There is more than enough dry, logical, data-driven sensationalism out there screaming for your customer’s attention. Be the relatable place people want to be a part of. Let them be a part in your success.
Renee is the Content Marketing Manager at Sellr. She is passionate about creating digital marketing strategies that help business owners develop successful relationships with customers and vendors.