We need marketing that truly connects in order to deliver qualified customers. An effective sales funnel that doesn’t feel like sales at all comes from the warmth of an engaging story. In turn, those story-based activities deliver customers who are engaged with the experience. With so many media choices, allowing customers to experience your brand story from the beginning—while still ensuring the greatest number of qualified leads from our marketing investment—can be a challenge.
Powerful sales Pipeline = brand stories.
Stories are valuable and important mementos that people carry with them throughout their daily life. The stories people collect are then repeated in conversations with friends, inserted into discussions with family, and shared with co-workers. Stories are the fuel for human connections. Whatever is valuable or important to us makes its way into our life stories. If marketing is going to fit into a story-based world, we have to understand how that marketing—and the customer experience it creates—ties us into the customer story.
If we’re not in the story, then we’re merely part of the noise.
A personal story catalog.
Consumers and business leaders decide which stories are important and valuable to them. It’s as if everyone has their own catalog of stories—personally archived and indexed for use when the time is right. Stories are selected and used because they fit the interests, values, and needs of the individual. It’s a curated collection for use in personal and professional life. It’s not only important to the individual, it’s a vital insight for effective marketing.
Shared in random order.
Bits of stories get jumbled up and merged whenever they make sense together. You’ve heard a great sports analogy along with lyrics from a familiar song or lines from a favorite movie, all shared in the same conversation. Bring in technology and social networking; that personal story catalog is now easily shared. The meaning we attach to words, pictures, videos, and music is shared freely and frequently with millions.
Stories aren’t just words.
Stories are captured in, pictures, graphics, and video. Social media gives flight to life’s snapshots captured by smart-phones and posted to digital boards. Effective story-based marketing incorporates these tools without becoming just a one-tactic approach.
One reason we have become so addicted to the collection of pictures and ideas in our smart phones and social networks is that they feed the story-craving nature of our real nature as human beings—we’re wired for story.
Are you in their story collection?
A company’s story is not just about the founding or its purpose. A brand story is about how your services fit into the lives of your customers. Your story becomes what a customer chooses to take from their experience with your business. If they don’t incorporate some piece of your brand into their lives, it can be like a movie with low box office receipts-—an empty theater.
Since marketing and advertising are important to business and nonprofit growth, and story is a part of human wiring, effectively serving up stories is a critical step toward success and having an effective sales funnel. To be part of the stories of people’s lives, we need more than just a good tactic or two. Social networking lends itself to stories, and so does video and other visual marketing. But, in marketing—just like in a good story—it takes more than just a single good line or a single tactic to create something powerful.
Our marketing has to become a part of that “personal story catalog,” but only the consumer decides which story elements are included. That is based on one primary factor–value. Is your brand story valuable enough that it creates a meaningful moment of experience? Are you touching on a part of the consumer’s life that is important to them, or just to your business. Is that service or product delivered in a way that produces a sense of value to the consumer? As you think about both the what and the how of your product, consider some of the keys to helping your story make the cut.
5 keys to story in marketing.
- Begin by sharing content that is focused on customers’ needs. This type of content is attractive because it connects directly with the story line the target consumers are already living. It meets their current needs.
- Stories connect to our sales pipeline when we use an integrated system that connects SEO (search engine optimization that helps customers find us), marketing automation, ROI (return on investment) tracking, CRM (customer relationship management) and nurturing communications that include both email and social. When its done well our customers don’t get the feeling they’re even in a sales funnel.
- Personalize the customer’s experience. The right kind of inbound system will help you identify the name and interests of those you engage, and then tailor your communications to fit.
- Take advantage of multiple story-oriented media formats. You can and should use visuals, video, audio, and social media in your communications.
- Use social media and online reviews to reflect on what customers are already saying about your business (that’s the story they are telling). What do they comment on (that’s positive), and what seems to be most meaningful to them? Whatever that is–share it and work to do it even better.