6 Storytelling Tips to Get your Brand Message Across
There’s too much marketing in the world for anyone to pay attention to it all. We say this as marketers who are regularly putting more messaging out there, so we know it’s true. But that doesn’t mean that you’re wasting your time trying to get your brand’s message across — it just means you’ll have to find another way to stand out.
Think about a category with virtually no differentiation — let’s say toothpaste. There are thousands of toothpaste SKUs in your local grocery store, and they all market themselves roughly the same way. Kill bad breath, prevent cavities, good for sensitive teeth, make your teeth whiter, and so on, and so on. They all blend together.
Then there’s Tom’s of Maine. Tom’s bills itself as a consumer goods product that’s actually making a difference, from policies of environmental stewardship and social responsibility to natural ingredients, support for nonprofits, and sustainable business practices. Whether you’re buying what they’re selling or not, you can’t deny that they stand out.
That’s what you need to do, and the best way to do it is by telling a story. You can’t just be a product that fills a need, you have to be an entity with a face, a mind, and a purpose. Here’s how to do that.
1. Say What Everyone’s Thinking
The best storytellers are good observers. They’ll point out the things that resonate with everyone, even if people hadn’t thought about them themselves. Talk about how filling out forms on a B2B website is really annoying, or how you hate it when you’re trying to read a website and an interstitial pops up asking you to sign up for an email newsletter.
You’re trying to convince people that you have the solution to their problems, and to do that, you need to show them that you know what those problems are and why they need to be fixed in the first place. You don’t have to be the first to realize that the problem exists, you just have to be the one to acknowledge it.
2. Find a Need Your Customers Don’t Know They Have
There’s a story about Henry Ford, talking about how he invented the Model T Ford. “If I had asked people what they wanted,” Ford is purported to have said, “they would have said faster horses.”
The story probably never happened quite like that, but there’s a lesson to be drawn from it just the same. The best solution to your customers’ problems might not be something they’re actually asking for, but don’t be afraid to show it to them anyway, based on the kind of things they value. No one asked for an iPhone in 2007, but Steve Jobs knew that people wanted a phone that was convenient and intuitive. The iPhone was the phone people didn’t know they wanted.
3. Be Specific
Everyone has encountered the kind of vague, generalized marketing speak that’s splashed all over the internet, and everyone hates it. Remember, you’re trying to convince people that you can solve their problems, so you need to make it very clear that you know what those problems are.
Don’t say that you’ve saved your clients money, say that you’ve saved them $55 million on their database management costs (or whatever it is you do). Prove to them that you know what their pain points are, and they’ll see the value of working with you.
4. Be Accessible
Besides being vague, there’s another problem with marketing jargon — no one knows what you’re talking about. This isn’t a high school essay, so you don’t have to use really big words to convince people that you’re smart. Use straightforward language, clear analogies, and simple statistics to make sure that your customers are on the same page as you. If they don’t know what you’re trying to say, why would they listen at all?
5. Talk About What You Know
You don’t have to be a professional writer to tell a good story. A story doesn’t have to be complicated or obscure to hit the right notes — in fact, it’s probably better if it’s not. You just need to tell the truth in a way that resonates with people, and that means picking experiences that everyone can sympathize with. Talk about driving a car, walking into a store, or picking a book off the shelf. Pick a universal truth, then figure out how to make it relate to what you do.
6. Talk to the Experts
You don’t need to be an expert to turn your brand’s purpose into a story that resonates with your customers, but everyone could use a little help. At Madison Taylor Marketing, we excel at turning brands into stories, and we can do the same for you. If you’re ready to start taking your brand’s messaging seriously, give us a call.