Tuesday, 16 October 2018

5 Stories You Can Tell In Your Marketing

Gone are the days of aggressive sales copy (or so they should be), Storytelling is the antidote to scare tactics or hyperbole (‘This frying pan will literally save your life in 10 awe-inspiring ways!’). It’s more gentle, yet still powerful — focusing on sharing real-life emotions and connections.

Storytelling helps to make your market more emotionally invested in your brand. It creates an identity for your brand and shares this through stories. This basically allows your customers to form a personal connection with your brand, which means they’re more likely to trust you, buy your products and remain loyal customers.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur and you want to start using storytelling in your marketing, it can be difficult to know where to start. But if you’re struggling, don’t worry —  here are some ideas for stories you can tell in your marketing…

1.   Your origin story

The most obvious story that a business can start with — and one that is normally included on an ’About Us’ page. Where did it all begin? How did your business get started in the first place?

Whether it was round a table at a bar, in your spare bedroom, or by the watercooler at your old job — your audience want to know.

Origin stories are all about the people behind the business. They’re a great way on humanizing your brand and showing that there are real people behind the computer screens.

If you’re quite a big company by now, it’s particularly good for your consumers to read about your humble beginnings. Write about your roots — how you grew from two best friends with a great idea to a successful business with hundreds of staff (or whatever your story might be!).

There’s a fascinating concept that there are fundamentally only seven types of stories in the world — check out this post to see which big brands fit into which story types.

2.   Your values

What are your brand values? How and why were your values chosen?

Telling your consumers about your values as a brand helps them to decide if their values align, and therefore how much they can identify with you.

Identifying with a brand is important to consumers: it establishes trust and empathy, and makes them feel more connected to you. It also creates a sense of community with other consumers, meaning your customers are more likely to talk about you and promote your brand to other people.

Stories about your values are great — but make sure they’re meaningful, memorable and clear.

If your values include charity work or donations, then talk about the work you do, and how your brand helps the wider community or those in need. If some of your proceeds go to worthy causes, talk about how the money is spent and what it goes towards.

Be proud of your work — the more you tell your story, the more people will read it and want to contribute to your cause.

3.   Your product’s founding story

What made you decide to make and/or sell your product? How did you come up with your concept?

There could be all sorts of reasons behind your product’s creation. It could be that you found a solution to a problem that no one had thought of yet. Or maybe you had a eureka moment in your own life that you realised you could share with others?

Perhaps you were annoyed with how the big brands were charging extortionate prices for a product or service, when you knew you could do it for way less.

Or maybe you want to make the world a better place with your product by helping those in need or contributing to environmental causes? 

Share this with your readers: explain how your product came into existence. You can make this story inspirational, funny, thought-provoking — it’s up to you.

Your product should never be the main character in your story. Instead, talk about how it fixes a problem, or how it is helping people; how it is used for a greater good.

It’s about more than just material goods; your stories needs to be about real people, real lives, and connections. How does your product impact lives?

4.   Stories of failure

It might sounds weird, but stories about any failures your business has had are good to tell. These types of story show how you’ve overcome obstacles, learnt from your mistakes, and shows resilience.

Failure stories are good if you’ve had a particularly public stumbling block. They’re also beneficial if you’re undergoing a rebrand — perhaps you’re unhappy with how your website looks, or maybe you’ve bought a website for sale that needs rejuvenating. You can talk about how your business was previously flagging, and how you’ve turned it around.

Document your hard work and effort for your audience so that they can see the journey you’ve gone on. Keep a track of progress and stats too, in case you want to do a ‘before and after’!

Failure stories show how your perception has changed and how you’re willing to embrace this new knowledge and learn from it.

They’re redemption stories: they show change, and make your business more human and more relatable. So when you earn your successes, your audience will be proud and support your achievements.

5.   Behind the scenes stories

Behind the scenes stories are always fun to tell. You can show your audience what happens behind the official photos and posts — the backend of the business.

This could be what your office looks like, or what a typical day at your desk entails. You can introduce or interview your staff or colleagues, by sharing their personal stories and how they came to join the company. You can even show the work that goes into creating a product, or show the product’s journey from beginning to end. The possibilities are endless!

Behind the scenes stories are great to tell because they make your reader feel like they’re in on a secret; like you’ve given them valuable private information.

They also allow your market to get to know the friendly faces behind your brand, rather than leaving you a faceless corporation.

Don’t be afraid to tell stories. They help to humanize your company, and allow you to reach out to your readers and engage with them. Through stories you can forge long-lasting, meaningful relationships.

As you can see, there are a number of different stories you can tell in your marketing. You’re probably already telling some of these anyway, without even realizing it! The key is to be honest and human, but it’s up to you which routes you go down. You can also decide which medium you want to tell your story — through video, photos, or content.

At the end of the day, storytelling isn’t a gimmick — it’s about sharing real connections, emotions and imagination.

The end.

           

Article Written by Kayleigh Alexandra. Kayleigh is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site that donates all of its web revenue to charities supporting new startups, entrepreneurs, and other worthy causes. Visit the blog for inspiring stories and the latest insights from top marketing experts. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Heightening your instincts to make better decisions.

One song I really like is ‘The Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers:

‘You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run…’

I’m not sure if I like the song because of the lyrics or the tune. But what I love about the song is its notion of knowing when to act and when not to, like a good cardplayer does. That’s one of the greatest secrets of success in life: timing.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘Timing is everything’, and I’m sure, just like me, you’ve had your share of good and bad timing. How grand would life be if we all just knew and understood the right time for everything in life? You would know when to push and when to hold.

Think about all the wasted energy you have invested in something that didn’t work because it wasn’t the right time for it. We could all do with a good sense of timing, couldn’t we? We have to go through life making decisions based on our best guesses according to the facts at hand and our limited foresight of tomorrow.

How can we improve our chances of being ‘there’ at just the right time? One of my favourite Bible verses is Ecclesiastes 9:11: ‘The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.’

It’s all about time and chance — a good gamble, some may say. One way to improve your timing is to heighten your senses and sharpen your intuitions. Now, you know as well as I do that the only way to keep a knife sharp is to use and reuse it. The same goes for intuition: it gets better over time.

Think about it: at some point in life you’ve wanted to do something that you ‘felt’ you should do. You couldn’t really tell why you felt that way — you simply did. If you listened to your inner voice and obeyed it, then you enhanced your intuition. But every time you ignored it, you let it become duller. And if you continue to ignore it, it eventually fades away. Some say that it’s your sixth sense, others say it’s the still voice inside your head. Whatever school of thought you belong to, we can all agree that it’s a good idea to pay attention when you have an ‘inclination’ in your mind.

Like a good card game, you get better by playing. By the same token, you get ‘luckier’ by heightening your instincts. Don’t get dull and sloppy by basing your decisions on what everyone else is saying. What’s your spirit saying to you? ‘But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.’ Job 32:8. Yes, you read that right — that voice, instinct, or intuition is the spirit of God guiding you. Honestly, you can’t ask for a better guide than the creator of life Himself.

So quit gambling with your choices in life. Stop showing up one minute later. Halt the speedy drive down life’s highway and listen to the voice of God in you. ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”’ Isaiah 30:21.

Where is He guiding you? Are you taking the leap, or still second-guessing yourself? Are you basing your decisions on social media or society news pages? Think again. All of life is time and chance; listen to the Master’s voice guiding you and make great decisions at just the right time.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Just living


Should you just stop trying then? 

That’s a question we ask when we have come to the end of our strength and are still unable to make headway. What’s the point of trying if you are just going to fail? What’s the point of even trying a little if you fall flat on your face every time?

Well, as tempting as it may be to sit back and throw in the towel, it really is not an option. I have learnt that playing a game isn’t always about winning. Sometimes it is the process and what you learn along the way that matters. You must have put in some level of work, commitment and perseverance, all of which goes towards building the strength of your character.

So maybe the aim of living isn’t about the end point we set for ourselves but the process of transforming us into the person we become. Ask yourself, will I let myself become bitter from a mistreatment or will I become a stronger, more steady person? After all, living is about being involved, existing is just about taking in air. So, quit existing, start living. Yes, as long as you are living, failure will come along on the way to success, but it’s all part of the process. So, fail, learn and keep moving and transforming into the person that God created you to be.

It’s all a part of life.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Perception: The mystery of the two white bedsheets.

Little children have overactive imaginations, which is why they see life through colored lenses. One afternoon, two little boys were playing together in their backyard, when one decided to get mom’s white bedsheets to build a fort. They draped the sheets over the low branches of the tree that stood in the middle of the backyard garden. It was the perfect hiding spot for them as they escaped into their pretend world of pirates.

An hour later, their mom called them for dinner. They dropped their toys and ran inside, leaving the bedsheets hanging over the branches. When dinner was done, Mom asked them to say their prayers, brush their teeth and go straight to bed. It had been a busy day, so the boys went up, each to his room. They retired to bed and drifted off to sleep smiling as the thoughts of their fun day lingered in their minds.

In the middle of the night, one of the boys woke up to use the bathroom. As he sat up, he glanced out his bedroom window. He thought he saw something, which sent chills down his spine. Could it be? He shook his head in disbelief as fear gripped his entire body. He started to tremble, not from the pressing feeling to use the toiletoh, nobut from the feeling of danger lurking nearby.

There, in the middle of the yard, stood two creatures. They seemed to be moving gently, swaying with the wind on this quiet night. The lights in the backyard were turned off, but he could see their outlines in the reflection of the moonlight. One creature seemed to plunge forward and . . .  At that point, the boy screamed and ran to his parents’ room.

“Dad! Dad!” he yelled.

His father got up, startled, and held his son, trying to calm him down. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“There . . .  there are . . . ,“ the little boy stammered as he tried to find the words to explain. But all he could do was point while muttering, “. . . monsters in the garden.”

His dad knew that this was impossible, but he also knew that he had to check on what had scared his son so badly. He held his little boy by the hand and led him back to his room. He said calmly, “Why don’t you wait here, and I’ll go down to scare the monsters away.”

Reluctantly, the little boy let go of his father’s hand as he climbed back into bed. Forming a protective circle with his pillows, he glanced at the window from time to time. A few seconds later, his father went down to the backyard, turned on the lights and called his little boy to look out the window. Sitting up, the boy looked out and realized that the monsters were not monsters after all; they were the bedsheets he and his brother had been playing with all afternoon.

It’s interesting how our perception of a situation changes when our knowledge of it increases. Think about how many times you’ve had reservations about someone you just met. Reservations are sometimes based on unconscious bias, but when we take the time to engage and get to know the person, our perception about them often changes.

What about a time you took on an assignment that you thought was a total waste of your energy? However, as you worked on it and learned more, you realized that you didn’t know as much as you thought you did.

As humans, it’s only natural to make judgement calls based on your what we think we know. However, the truth is that there is always more to know if you choose to learn.

We can change our life when we change our perception, and we can change our perception when we increase our knowledge. This month, make a pact with yourself to learn something new.