In my last post, I wrote about the power of using story and authenticity to give your brand depth and meaning. If you missed that post you can find it here: How to Give Your Brand Depth and Meaning Through Story. (#1 in a Series).
Today is all about the art and science of telling your brand’s story.
Here’s a fact: Telling your ongoing story is one of the most important things you can do to ignite your brand. There are so many ways to reach your audience through story, from blogging to video. Only you can decide which platform is best for your brand, but there is true power in story.
Delivering a helpful, engaging, and consistent narrative, with a core message and a specific audience in mind, helps you stand out, build authority, and bring in great customers.
In my last post I gave you an example of how to effectively frame your story. But what is the art of storytelling in the content marketing space? And how do you truly get started?
First, acknowledge the power of story and what it can do for your brand and your business.
A great story captures your attention, incites emotion, and leaves a mark. You remember it.
And if you are looking for customers, you must bond with them in some way. A consistent and engaging narrative (story) does this.
You must attune yourself with your audience and your potential customers. And it helps if you walk a mile in your customer’s shoes and think about it like this:
Your client is on a journey. You are here to help them find their way. Your focused, helpful, engaging storyline creates a bond, puts you top of mind with them, and earns you the right to sell.
Second, understand that your customer’s pain is how you begin to frame a story that works.
The pain—that big thing your client needs help with—becomes the focus of your narrative. To do this right it really helps to change your mindset by…
- Thinking like a teacher not a marketer, and…
- understanding that your customer is the hero, not you.
A successful entrepreneur is a highly-compensated servant. And making your customer the hero means you adopt a servant mentality.
This is very important. If you don’t have that servant mentality, you are not going to be a well paid solopreneur. Your solution needs to be focused on your ideal customer’s long-term success.
Your goal is to make them the superstar pupil who receives all your expert guidance—so they love you, come back to you and tell all their friends about you. And you continue to build trust through story.
So let’s get into story, its power, and the process of effectively using it.
1. Most potential customers are not in a rush. They want to be courted.
This process—story through content marketing—is about romancing your ideal customer over time, not going for a deep tongue kiss on your first date. If you want to be rewarded with love and affection (vs. being slapped in the face) you must develop this type of narrative. Love thy customer and realize trust takes time.
2. You must build a library of helpful content.
Whatever form it takes—blog posts, podcasts, videos, or all—this stuff is what keeps your machine humming and supports your brand. It’s the foundation everything is built upon and is what your audience will keep coming back to.
3. Help your readers by continually teaching them.
Immerse yourself in your ideal customer’s world, listen to them, and really get to know them. This positions you to best help them solve their problems and continue on their mission.
Always, always, always think more like a teacher and less like a marketer!
4. Relax and realize that all good things take time.
Story is the best way to detail the problems of your ideal customer, attract and communicate with them, then craft products and services to help them. But selling through storytelling is an iterative process that takes time. Take small, daily steps to see things through.
Now I want to tell you why your ideal customer’s pain is the foundation for your story.
What is a pain point? It’s what is troubling your ideal customer. The thing they must get past. A big, fat business hurdle that is stifling their greatness.
When you discover what this is, then deliver engaging and valuable content that addresses their pain, you’re well on your way to converting readers into loyal subscribers, fans, and customers.
Your customer’s problem is the enemy you’re helping them get past. You just need to do this better than the other guy.
So, what practices will help you understand your customer’s pain?
1. Get feedback—through comments, email, social media, etc. Continual testing and feedback is fuel for that breakout brand of yours.
2. Be the customer—focus on your ideal customer’s world and how you can make it better. You are Obi Wan, they are Luke.
3. Use your continuing story to convey that you know exactly what their pain is. Your content is the spark for your client’s transformation. That is exactly how it brings them in.
Listen to your customers and understand them, find their pain, and teach them how to eradicate it. This is your storyline. But keep working to understand their pain. Keep listening. Then you won’t have to guess any longer, the story will just flow.
So, what exactly did I mean with the “customer as hero” thing I mentioned above?
I’m assuming you know about the movie “The Karate Kid?” In the movie, Danielson (the student) was taught by Mr Miagi (the master). With branding and story it’s extremely beneficial to see yourself as a teacher like Miagi. You’re not the hero, but rather a sage guide with a servant mentality.
And, no matter how much you want to be Daniel, or Luke, or Neo. You’re not.
You must aim to be Miagi, Obi Wan, Morpheus.
What should be your first steps to doing this hero thing effectively, via content marketing in the online space?
First, detail the pain point we described above.
Second, write out topic ideas. Video, podcasting, blogging—whatever medium you choose, you need to layout a series of titles in advance.
To this date, the best advice on this topic comes from Marcus Sheridan. His methodology for an almost unlimited source of content ideas? Publish the answers to questions your customers always ask. Be honest, don’t avoid controversy, and answer negative and positive questions alike.
Even if you don’t have customer questions coming in right now, it’s easy to come up with your own list of 25, 50, 100 questions or more. The answers you come up with become that content well you continually dip into.
Are you blogging? Then write out those answers as long-tail keyword titles.
Are you shooting video? Then consider concise instructional videos that answer these questions.
Do you have a podcast? Ask your guests these questions.
Your marching orders
Today, figure out your platforms (blogging, podcasting, video, etc.). Get started on describing your ideal customer’s pain. And start laying out your topic ideas.
If you need a little help, I’ve created a worksheet that will help. For the worksheet, go to craigmcbreen.com/worksheets and click on “6–Brand Story Worksheet”
Be the teacher. Tell an amazing story. Continually help potential customers and see what happens.
My first post in this series was How to Give Your Brand Depth and Meaning Through Story.
If you want a detailed plan on how to build a brand that rises above the noise, connects with the right audience, and drives the action needed to help you advance your business, sign up for my email list where I’ll show you the 6 steps to bring your brand to life.
Latest posts by Craig McBreen (see all)
- Your First Step to a Successful Brand? Be the Teacher. - December 1, 2016
- 3 Simple Lessons to Humanize Your Brand - November 17, 2016
- 4 Ways to Use Story in Your Marketing - November 10, 2016