Brand storytelling is no longer a nice to have. It is a need to have, and what will ultimately maximize your business’s visibility, profit, and impact.
Tell your story with LOVE, treat it as a compass for your marketing strategy, and the result will be a brand that is as profitable as it is valued.
In a world where consumers rule the world and are powered by technology, small businesses are forced to choose between establishing themselves both online and offline or alternatively cherry-picking one of the two options and sticking to it. While customers enjoy the luxury of being presented with an array of options to conveniently access good and services, it is critical for small businesses to be deliberate about their brand stories and their customers’ journey.
Customers connect with more than just your logo, new product or service delivery mode – they want to get to learn about the business. A recipe for successfully executing brand storytelling is authenticity and engagement with a dash of visuals (so we know it’s real), topped with a dollop of characters who display passion and love for the business. Building your brand story is a tad easier for small businesses than it is for larger companies whose reputation and perceptions (good or bad) have been built over the years.
Let your purpose guide you
Your business’ purpose will guide you and open up pockets of opportunities to help you tell the story. A good example of a small business that is creatively building a bigger audience through different platforms, is Amazi Beauty. Not by using paid advertising, but rather by sharing valuable content and growing the tribe of women who support the business.
Last year, I had the honor of attending the recording of a podcast at Amazi Beauty in Braamfontein where the head of marketing at the Foschini Group, Pride Maunatlala was being interviewed on the rise of the female centric economy. While the rich and insightful content was what lured an audience into the salon, as guests we got to experience an Amazi treatment and personally, I have been part of the business’ SoundCloud channel audience ever since.
Instead of purely focusing on promoting your offering or taking it to market in the same way that you have always done, find or create spaces where you are able to emotionally connect with your existing and prospective customers. Use the reason for your business’ existence (the need that your business is addressing) as the foundation of seeding ideas around your business’ brand experiences.
Remember that the people maketh the story.
Quite a number of small business owners are guilty of maintaining social media pages that are filled with a stream of logos, branded goods and discounted prices on products and services. While it’s great for your customers to be reminded of your offering, keep in mind that it is equally important for them to put faces to the business’ name. Find ways of capturing your team’s everyday moments around the work that gets put into making the business a success – this could be the arrival of new stock, preparations for a big event or even one of your founding members delivering a talk at an event as a representative of the business. Remember to make a firm decision around who you would like to have as the faces of your business and be prepared to have your audience link the face’s personal profile to the business, whether or not this forms part of your plan.
Let them share
Give your customers the freedom to share their experience with your business using various platforms and create guidelines such as hashtags that you may make use of to follow their stories about your brand. You can later re-share the content with your entire audience. This makes for authentic brand storytelling and adds layers to it.
Engage with your audience
There isn’t a social media manager that I know who is ever prepared to openly talk about the awkwardness that came with the day that they attempted to pose a question to their social media community and not a single soul on the planet responded. It’s weird but a critical exercise for sussing out who your audience is and the type of content that makes them respond. Test different content and decide on the metrics of measuring success before you even go live with the content. On occasions that one or a few of your followers do respond, it’s important to communicate back to them. And I mean COMMUNICATE. A simple “Like” on a comment is a low-key insult. Make an effort but don’t try too hard and end up coming across as the socially awkward business.