In the business world, it’s important to find ways to connect with your target customers. This means developing marketing strategies that resonate with them on a deeply personal level. By doing this, you can create a customer base that identifies with your brand and is more likely to remain a loyal customer for many years to come. Not only that, but loyal customers are also more likely to tell others about your product or services, so you can gain customers rapidly with less effort.
Connecting with your customers with effective marketing campaigns that encourage them to spread the word about your business is truly the best use of your advertising and marketing budget.
Effective strategic storytelling is a powerful marketing tool that should never be ignored.
What is strategic storytelling?
It is critical to know your target customer as well as you possibly can. This means having data and insight into their lives. These elements are used in marketing to create a storyline of your company and brand to which your target customers can relate.
Gathering data and insight can take some time
Marketing runs on data, and while there is a lot of data out there that can be utilized, companies often need to gather their own data or at least do a lot of research before they can begin to construct a good marketing campaign.
Often, the competition between companies is tight. It can be hard to find a way to pull ahead of a competitor without really analyzing the customer base you are competing for.
Not taking the time to get good data and insight is an easy mistake to make when you are anxious to boost sales or launch a new product. It is important to understand the value of taking your time on this step, which can help ensure you are spending your marketing budget on an effective campaign.
Some companies use data analysts to cherry-pick trends via data mining. Online surveys are also often used to get specific data.
Narrative and logical framework
Strategic storytelling needs to follow a logical narrative and framework that is memorable to your target audience. The narrative should be exciting and something that ensures your target demographic is emotionally invested. This means that stories should be told using language that includes a lot of action words. You need to show your audience that they are part of the story.
Stories need to cut through technical jargon and terms that are confusing. You want your storyline to be easily understood. A good strategic story should emphasize the benefits of your product or service to your target audience.
Defining your target audience is important. While it may seem easy for you and your marketing team members to picture your target customer base, an important step is to actually write down the factors that define them. Refining information on your target customer should come next. Chances are when you have your brief target customer description, you will see that there is a lot more information needed if you want to create a storytelling narrative that offers the strongest connection to your company and products.
Of course, your target demographic may actually encompass a wide range of people from all walks of life. If you are trying to reach a very wide audience, then it becomes absolutely critical that your storyline and message is presented in a way that brings people together rather than emphasizing differences. Marketing teams need to ask what key points related to their product or service everyone has in common. For example, are you targeting customers in a specific income level or individuals who are concerned about the appearance of their yard? There are countless factors that people may have in common. If you are introducing a new line of frozen foods, you might take note that people from many demographics are looking for ways to save time during a busy work week.
Marketing teams need to clearly state the ultimate goal of their strategic storytelling marketing plan. Having defined goals makes it easier to stay focused rather than creating a marketing plan that is too broad and doesn’t achieve specific goals. You can only do so much with a single campaign.
On that note, it is important to set realistic goals with each phase of your campaign. While striving for more is admirable, it is far better to set realistic goals and achieve or surpass them than to set the bar too high and never reach your targets. Companies that habitually set goals too high from the start often see a drop in employee morale. It is hard to get excited and do your best when you think there is no feasible way to meet goals.
Strategic storytelling should show your target audience that your product or services can provide them with solutions to their problems. Make sure to showcase within your marketing story how your company’s offering can simplify or improve your customers’ lives. This will inspire them to take charge of their future by investing their money in what your company offers.
When showcasing solutions in your story, you must make them believable. Bragging or claiming your product can do so much that it sounds too good to be true is not the way to go. While you may believe that your product is that good deep down, it is harder to show that level of enthusiasm without it coming across as over the top to your audience. You will get more customers by toning your marketing down a bit rather than making huge claims.
Remember that as you gain loyal customers, word will spread that your product really is great. Customer testimonials and reviews will do all the bragging for you and build trust in the marketplace.
It is important for potential customers to feel in control. Marketers can achieve this by showcasing that the customer has several options to choose from while still highlighting the options that are most likely to offer the customer a satisfactory result.
Customers need to feel that they have come to a decision through their own thought processes rather than just listening to whatever someone says in the commercial they are watching or promotional material they are reading.
Components of a good strategic story
The most successful strategic stories have the following qualities.
Entertaining and believable
If your audience gets bored halfway through your story, they will probably not become a customer. Therefore, stories must draw the listener in so that they are still around to hear the solutions offered by your business that come towards the end of your story.
As stated before, stories must be engaging but also believable so that the target audience can imagine themselves as part of the ongoing story or put themselves in the position of the storyteller. This is one of the reasons why entertaining customer reviews and testimonials are so effective at drawing in customers. How many of us search for products on Amazon and then dismiss any product that doesn’t have reviews that average four stars and up?
Potential customers want to know more and not just about a specific product or service. They want to know how other customers utilize a product or service in unique ways. They may be reluctant to take on a do-it-yourself project on their own, so it will be valuable to see how another customer did just that and had great success thanks to your company’s product or service.
A happy ending
While we all know that not every story in life has a desirable conclusion, when it comes to marketing, the story should lead to a problem being solved or circumstances at least improving. Strategic storytelling must lead a potential customer through the challenge and show them the light at the end of the tunnel while maintaining credibility.
Marketing leaders are critical to business success
Without good marketing, it is hard for any business to compete in today’s global economy. Business leaders who have advanced marketing skills can help take a company from the bottom to the top of their chosen niche.
Of course, it takes more than just one person. A good marketing leader needs to be able to motivate and strategize with a marketing team. This means organizing and leading meetings as well as delegating responsibilities. Ultimately, marketing leaders are responsible for ensuring that team members follow through with what they are assigned, or it reflects poorly on them.
An online master of communication degree from an institution such as St. Bonaventure University offers many opportunities to work in marketing. It is a great choice for those who want to specialize in a specific area of business.
Creating a storyline for a new company requires a lot of planning to ensure success
When a company is just starting out, it is important to create a mission statement and goals that can help form an outline for the story of the company.
The name and motto
The name of a company is the first thing your customer is going to judge you by. Names need to be very carefully considered, especially if your company plans on doing business internationally. A name that is easy to understand and doesn’t have any offensive connotations is the goal. Remember that the same word in one country may mean something not so great in another.
If your company has a motto, consider how that motto will be interpreted in the various locations that you plan on marketing your product or services. Mottos that are catchy and easy to understand have the best marketing potential because people will remember them. Consider the commercials that have gotten “stuck in your head” over the years. Behind the scenes was a strong marketing team that knew the power just a short phrase can have on customer response.
Goals and objectives
Setting your goals and objectives into a formal plan and document is extremely valuable. You should also have a separate category for main goals, followed by secondary goals. Having prioritized and clearly defined goals helps you stay focused when planning the launch and marketing of your company.
Further organization of goals into a reasonable timeline is also helpful. For example, you may want to establish your goals and objectives across a timeline of three years. This offers some guidelines for tracking performance and progress so that you can make adjustments when your run into inevitable challenges and unforeseen circumstances. This will happen with any business regardless of how established they are in their market.
Remember to establish realistic goals and try to exceed them when possible. Unrealistic goals result in bad morale and disappointment.
Create your ideal customer profile
As discussed previously, it is critical to have a good portrait of what your typical customer is like. For starters, create a profile of their common characteristics, then branch out into any major differences you see in the various subgroups of your customer base. This allows you to pinpoint the traits that you should concentrate on when developing your marketing plan and storytelling strategy.
Set your marketing budget
While the days of paying large sums for advertising in print media are behind us, it still costs money to develop marketing materials. Setting a realistic budget is important for launching any business or product. If you have people within your company who already have graphic design skills, then you may be able to produce some materials without the help of an outside agency. At the same time, you should consider what it would cost to outsource some of the design work.
Having professional marketing materials and a well-designed website is essential if you want customers to take you seriously. While taking a strong role in the design process is recommended, know when to leave the work to someone that specializes in website or promotional material design.
As your company grows, you will need to reassess your marketing budget and always be looking for ways to improve your marketing so that you can increase your market share.
Consider your social media marketing approach and plan accordingly
A lot of advertising and promotion occurs via social media and influencers. When launching a new company or product, it can be very beneficial if you reach out to influencers that are relevant to your niche market. In some cases, just offering some free products or a service is all that you need to do to get promoted by an influencer. Some influencers may ask for a fee or at least a commission for any products that you sell due to their promotion.
Free products and a commission are a good way to start if you are on a tight marketing budget. Sending out free products to a group of specific people will not cost your company a lot, and the commission rate offers an incentive for the influencer to do a great job. If they don’t sell many products for you, then you can at least know that you did not invest too much of your marketing budget.
Facebook ads allow you to set an advertising budget for any ads you want to put on social media. The advantage of Facebook ads is that they are targeted to your specific audience based on a variety of demographic factors. Even better, you can check and see how many people were reached with your ad. By tracking revenue via your ads, you can determine if it is worth it to expand your budget or if you should take your advertising dollars elsewhere.
Review your sales figures
No marketing campaign is perfect, but if a campaign is not increasing your sales, then you need to change your strategy rather than continue to waste your marketing budget.
Evaluating what your competitors are doing is important. If you know they are doing better than you, then you can learn from their strategy or find ways to make your product stand out from theirs.
Maintain your website and social media profiles
The average person is not going to stay on a website that is hard to use or that runs slowly. This means you must invest time and money into creating and maintaining a website that captures customers’ interest and makes shopping and communication as easy as possible. Ensuring that your site looks nice and works well on mobile devices is critical because so many people use phones and tablets to do their browsing and shopping.
Social media posts should happen regularly if you want to maintain followers and keep customers engaged. There are programs that make it easy to schedule posts a month at a time so that you can stay ahead of posts and ensure posts go out at the same time every day.
Strategic storytelling is a marketing tool that every company should utilize. It can help your company connect with customers from a wide range of demographics. Storytelling forms an emotional connection with customers and even attracts other companies that may want to work with or collaborate with you on lucrative projects.