Does your marketing tell your story?

I’ve told you once and I’ll keep telling you, every business should have a story behind all of their marketing activity. Do you tell yours? What’s the story behind your business?

In these strange times many businesses have seen their world flipped on its head, and their income reduced.  But consider this, consumers are suddenly being forced to expand their horizons by shopping and buying from businesses they may never have considered before.  You could be in with a shot, but you need to be ready.

This is your time to shine! Your time to engage with new and existing customers, and tell them why they should be buying from you.  Stand out from the crowd, because you need to be heard above the racket.

Before you flex your creative muscles, there are a few steps you need to take.

Who do you want to tell your story to?

Identifying your ideal customer is one of the very first things you must do when you begin marketing your business. If you don’t know who you are selling to and how to speak directly to their soul then you are going to waste a lot of hours on your marketing.

Giving your ideal customer a physical form will help.  Give them a personality, think about who they are, their life circumstances, their goals in life, where they shop, who they follow online.  What books and news sources do they read?  Where do they live?  What do they do in their free time?

By creating a customer persona you can work out how to appeal to them, considering what makes them buy and what they are looking for will help you understand how to make your product or service irresistible to them.

If you don’t have a clue how to work out your ideal customer come and see me – it’s one of the first things I do with all of my clients.  (I’ll be putting together some more information on identifying your ideal customer soon…)

How are you going to attract your customer’s attention?

The online world has become a busier playing field than ever before. Granted, it’s littered with some questionable content, but it’s crowded so you need to work smarter and harder to stand out and build a strong bond with your ideal customer.

The best way to stand out is to produce consistent, quality content.  So many businesses are in the habit of spewing out the same bland sales messages to anyone who will listen.  These kinds of posts blend into the background, your customer will scroll past them, and they will probably never even see them.  The trick is to build a crowd of loyal followers who are looking for your content and that takes some time and dedication.  Think about what you can offer your customer to catch their eye and make you want to follow your page or profile, join your Facebook group, or subscribe to your mailing list.

And the very first step in building a journey for your customer is a compelling story. Give them an insight into your business and how it began.  How did you get here? What drove you to build your empire? Why do you do what you do? This story is what will connect you with your ideal customer, and it should drive every aspect of your marketing.

Find some stories that you love

To demonstrate my point I’m going to introduce you to a couple of businesses who’s stories really speak to me. But first I will start with my own.

My story…

Cloverleaf started on my sofa, I was heavily pregnant, and wondering what life would be like once I was a mum,  I was dreading the day that I would have to choose between full-time work and parenting and I eventually decided that it was a choice I wasn’t prepared to make.  So, I decided to put all of my experience together with my love for words and writing stories and my geeky fascination with social media and online marketing. 

My years of working in hospitality, events, and sales had introduced me to so many inspiring people, I had witnessed and embraced the birth of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and seen how they connected people and customers. I wanted to be part of that world, so I pooled together all of my connections, I wrote a personal and heartfelt email and a LinkedIn message to them all and I threw myself out there. Within 2 days I had secured my first three clients.

Since then I’ve rarely marketed Cloverleaf because it is a business built on my own connections, personality, and experience. No big-budget campaigns, just me.  Cloverleaf’s story is about me doing what I love, doing it well, and working my socks off for my clients.  This is not a boast (I never boast because I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be doing this and I take none of it for granted) it’s just how I built Cloverleaf.  Nothing fancy or flashy, I just stick to my story and it works.

I appreciate this won’t work for every business because every business is unique. So let’s look elsewhere for some other examples…

Monsoon Estates Coffee Company

The Monsoon Estates Family – taken by Charlie Budd (another wonderful person I admire!)

I met Anne and Chris years ago at a Stratford Tweet Up networking event. I loved them instantly. They roasted coffee beans in their kitchen and sold them at local markets. Their business was growing super fast and their love and passion for great coffee introduced me to a whole new world. These days they have left their kitchen and have their own amazing roastery near Stratford, a loyal following of coffee lovers like me, and a list of coffee shops and hospitality businesses who serve their beautiful beans. 

They still sell at local markets and food festivals, and welcome waifs and strays for regular coffees and chats at their roastery.   They are branching out all the time and I just love watching them develop. Every new idea comes so naturally to them because they live and breathe what they do.

Their quest began with one simple aim, to create the perfect cup of coffee.  This quest has built a burgeoning empire. I love chatting with Anne, she is one of the warmest people I have ever met. What she and Chris don’t know about coffee isn’t worth knowing.  Monsoon Estates Coffee beans run through my veins, their coffee quite literally gives me life!  Anne tells their story on their website (she will tell you in person if you are ever lucky enough to meet her!)  There is also an awesome video on their website. Watch it here.

Wonderful Events by Martina Paul

I’ve known Martina for quite a while. We worked together in a luxury hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. Martina contacted me last year for some help with planning her marketing activity. She was now trained and working as a Wedding Celebrant with her own Wedding Planning Business. Since working in a wedding dress shop aged 17 I have loved a good wedding so meeting Martina to discuss weddings was a no-brainer.

Martina and I now meet for monthly marketing planning sessions. She doesn’t need me to do her marketing for her because she knows exactly what to say and how to say it herself. Instead, we worked together to identify her key customers and we mapped out her customer marketing journey. We now discuss new ideas and ways to improve on the great work she is doing.

Martina uses her own extensive experience in hospitality in her marketing, she also concentrates on the wedding styling that she loves when creating her beautiful, country-chic, rustic and dreamy posts for Instagram and Pinterest.  Martina demonstrates her impeccable organisation and planning skills with free wedding checklists that can be downloaded from her website in return for an email address.   Every piece of marketing that Martina produces has a purpose and it speaks volumes about what it would be like to work with her.  She tells her story perfectly.

I love working with Martina because she is an expert in her field. She knows weddings inside out, she is driven and focussed and she gets on with it. If I was a bride to be, I’d be picking up the phone to Martina the minute that ring was placed on my finger. I love her style and her vision, which is reflected across her website and her social channels. But she also recognises the importance of offline marketing activities and successfully gets herself featured in some of the UK’s leading wedding magazines. Martina never stops plugging away at her goal and this year she was recognised as Regional Winner at the 2020 Wedding Industry Awards. She has also set up her own Facebook community for other wedding suppliers and runs regular live sessions to help her members with their own marketing (I’ve made a couple of guest appearances for her and loved it!)

Martina is going places and I’m very proud to be part of her journey. If you know someone who is getting married, send them this link to her website!

Now it’s your turn

Even if you know your story, I bet you have never considered how it could appeal to your customers. The best place to start is by writing it down! Go back to your beginnings and remember where you came from. Sprinkle some of that new business magic and mentality into your marketing activities.

Remember that the world is a different place now. People are going to look more deeply and consider purchases more thoughtfully. Look at the recent revival of the great British high street! Our independent businesses are now the lifeblood of our local economy. The 2020 lockdown will become part of many business stories in years to come.

This could be the beginning of a new chapter in your story too. So take a few moments this week, write down your story and remember where it all began. If nothing else it will remind you what you are doing here – and sometimes we all need to revisit our roots to remember where we want to end up.

If you need help with marketing storytelling. Drop me a line. I’m always online and happy to listen.

Stay safe everyone, Siân


Images: Adobe Stock, Gerasimov174, Жанна Могильная, Michail Petrov

Monsoon Estates Image: Charlie Budd aka The Tall Photographer

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