If you aren’t a parent it might have escaped your notice that it was World Book Day on 3 March. I packed my two small people off in their favourite dragon and monster costumes, books grasped in their clammy little hands. I know these ‘awareness days’ can seem like a bit of a gimmick, but I love the innocent optimism of WBD. When I asked my eldest what he wanted to dress up as he jumped up and down with excitement, reeling off a list of treasured stories. Even better, they had characters easily served by costumes we already owned.
I grew up in a house full of books, largely thanks to my grandad, who worked for Hodder and Stoughton. I can’t imagine living in a house without bulging bookcases so my children are also being raised on an endless diet of stories. It’s easy to think of a ‘story’ as being the stuff of childhood, making way for literature when we grow up, but I don’t think that’s the case. Every message we send out into the world is a story. I believe that it’s hugely important to remember that when creating business communications.
A shared story can be enormously powerful. We might not think of ourselves as tribal but we instinctively seek others of our own kind and group together, whether that’s by nationality, common interest or even as parents at the school gate. Those associations are strengthened by shared history and experience, retold year after year. I feel this most keenly with my family, but also when I stand shoulder to shoulder with the ‘Crumbie Gang’, my fabulous group of friends on the terrace at Leicester Tigers. The club are obviously keenly aware of the feeling of kinship that shared match days promotes, as their marketing uses it extensively. They have in the past referred to the fans as the 16th player and routinely use the hashtag #Tigersfamily on Twitter.
It’s a technique that we can all use. If you have a clear idea of your brand identity, your communications should flow from there to gather your ideal customers to you. You may think that brand loyalty is a thing of the past, but your chances of retaining customers and securing repeat business will be hugely increased if they feel that you share their values. Leicester Tigers pride themselves on being a family club, not only in spectator experience but in the relationship with the players and staff. Their branding reflects that.
But why do we need stories? Bluntly put, people don’t like being sold to, at least not overtly. If you can tell your customers the tale of how your business started and how your values reflect their own, they begin to identify with you on a personal level. It bypasses the defence mechanism that alerts them to the hard sell and lets them start thinking about you as someone who is there to help. What is the central concept that draws your fans to your business? Identify that and use it throughout your marketing, in the content of your newsletters and on social media.
Of course, having a narrative in place shouldn’t just end with your customers as your employees can benefit from it too. If they have a clear idea of the values and approach that your business is taking they are more likely to represent those to your customers. The feeling of belonging to something larger than themselves can also improve morale.
Even better, thinking of your business in terms of its story lets you consider where you want that story to go; do you have a vision for the future?
If you’re looking for ways to improve your content marketing, get in touch or visit my website www.KirstyFranceWrites.co.uk to download a free copy of my guide ’10 Tips to create copy that converts’.