Believe it or not, people care more about how your story affirms what they already want to believe than how amazing your product actually is. Just because you're faster, smarter or sexier than your competition, doesn’t necessarily mean you will win. The companies that grow and change their industries are the ones who tell the right story, to the right people. While your widget, service or idea may be remarkable, if your story isn’t, you’ll get lost in the crowd.
Is the iPhone really that much better than any other smart phone? Well, it all depends on who you ask. What make the iPhone so great for Mac enthusiasts is not the faster chip or better operating system, it’s what the iPhone says about them. The truth is, the iPhone is relativity the same as their competition and if anything, their OS is less flexible. What they are selling is the experience of owning an Apple Product. Apple knows their phone isn’t for everyone, but they know exactly who their audience is and what they want. Can you think of another smart phone where people wait in line more than 24 hours to purchase an upgraded model each year? (Yes, I’m a Mac nerd and have done this… a few times.)
Apple wins consistently because they tell are great story. A story that resonates across every part of their organization. A story they themselves believe and live. There are a ton of great businesses out there that never make it, because they are either bad at telling their story or are telling the wrong story all together. Seth Godin puts it perfectly in his Book, “All Marketers Are Liars.”
"The only stories that work, the only stories with impact, the only stories that spread are the “I can’t believe that!” stories. These are the stories that aren’t just repeatable, these are the stories that demand to be repeated."
So all of this may sound good, but you may be asking yourself, “What does this look like practically? I mean, come on, I run a small business not a tech giant? Does telling my story really matter that much?" In short, yes! Today the playing field is more even than ever before. The internet has helped give a larger voice to smaller businesses. But this also means there is more noise. The most important thing a business owner can do is to take time to understand their audience and then craft a story that speaks directly to their worldview and then share that story via all of the marketing channels available.
Not any old story will do. You can’t just make something up and hope people will believe you. It doesn’t have to be outrageous but it must be remarkable. Your story begins and ends with your buyer. After all, they are the ones who decide whether or not your story is going to spread. Understanding your buyer persona is at the heart of inbound marketing. Everything you do is based on these personas and framed to fit their world view. Developing your personas is essential to creating a cohesive message that you can use across all of your marketing channels. This can seem like a very overwhelming process, but you already have more of the data than you realize. Start by asking yourself, “Who are my current customers?” And “Why do they choose me over my competition?” If you are unsure, ask them! Most of the time they will be more than happy to help.
Then take your research to the next level. Start asking the hard questions. What problems did my customers face before coming to me? What makes them come back? What makes my solution remarkable? These deeper questions are essential. People make more buying decisions based on feeling than anything else. Tapping into this is key to creating an authentic story that your customers will have to share.
The final phase of creating effective buyer personas is to put all your research together. Then craft a story about your buyer. Who they are, where they work, what their day is like. The more detailed you get, the better your message will be. To help make this process easier, check out this buyer persona template. It will walk you through the whole process and help keep you organized and on track.
Social media is a great place to share and test the effectiveness of your story. Unfortunately, too many businesses use this platform to push sales. A great way to get ignored on social media is to treat it like a free advertising platform. Think about your buyers and how they use social media. Then, engage with them in a real and authentic way. While we live in a digitally driven world, we must still be human and act as if we are speaking face to face. By simply offering advice and sharing content that is relevant to your audience, you’ll begin to build trust.
With inbound marketing, the main focus is adding value. Before you tweet, post or pin, ask yourself, does this add value or does it add noise. Make sure what you post lines up with the story you are telling. Inconsistency in your messaging will lead to confusion and mistrust and those are two mistakes that are very hard to recover from.
Social media marketing is something that can seem overwhelming to many business owners. The internet is full of tricks and tips on what to post and when. Here is what I want to say about all of that. Be you. Don’t force it. If your story is remarkable, your audience will spread it for you. Everyone wants something to go “viral” but with the short life span of “viral” content, wouldn’t you rather be memorable?
Social media is a powerful tool to connect, engage and share your story with your current customers and prospects. When done with authenticity, you can expand your reach pretty quickly. Want to learn the inbound approach to finding new leads using social media? Check this free workbook out.
There is no other asset more essential to successful online marketing than your website. This is the home where your story lives. A place where your audience can come and connect with your brand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your website is a place where your story comes alive and not just through your content. What we must realize is that everything speaks. From the colors on the page to the alignment of the navigation, it either adds value to our story or draws questions about it. Having a site that is “good enough” or that “get’s the job done” will no longer cut it in today’s highly competitive world. Don’t settle for “good enough” when you have the ability to amplify your story in a remarkable way. There is no other media in the world that allows you to share your thoughts and ideas with so many people for such a low cost like your website. Take full advantage of this amazing opportunity and create a website that embodies your story!
Don’t follow trends and don’t copy your competitors. Here are 2 bonus tips:
Finding the right methods and channels to connect your story to your audience is essential to success online. Inbound is a great way share your message and help you connect and nurture your prospects. But before you can share it, you have to create it. So what’s your story? Is it remarkable or will it leave you invisible?
You may be busy, but you’re not too busy to grow! Looking for more simple and effective ways to share your story and grow your business using inbound marketing? Get your copy of “The Busy Business Owner’s Guide to Internet Marketing” here.
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