storytelling

We are all storytellers. Each action we take plays a part in telling a story. The email you sent yesterday following up with a prospect. The blog post you published an hour ago on Google’s latest trends. The hero image on your website’s homepage. I could go on.

The truth is everything we say and do is like a single moment, each connecting to form the complete story from start to finish.

For marketers, that’s telling your business’s story in a compelling way that generates new business. It’s also figuring out how to tell your story in a more engaging way than your competitors’.

Take for example smartphones. An iPhone 8, Pixel 2 and Galaxy S7 all do the same exact thing. So why has Apple dominated the market for so long? Steve Jobs knew what story people wanted to hear and he knew how to tell it before anyone else did.

From a digital marketing perspective, what does storytelling look like? What can you do to distinguish your business and its brand so in precious micro-moments, a consumer thinks about you and not a competitor? It’s starts by knowing the elements of a digital marketing strategy and how they can work together to tell a complete story.

How Your Digital Marketing Can Tell A Story

The Hero: Your Website

A website serves as your business’s home on the internet. It’s what the story revolves around. Everything that happens leads back to your website in some way or another. Your website is like the hero of your story. But, your web presence is far more than just your website. Just like a story is much more than just one character. While a website is a necessity, it’s only one piece of the story. It takes a coordinated approach to having a successful digital marketing strategy.

The Scenery: Content Marketing

This one is near and dear to my heart as a content marketer myself. I may go as far as saying it’s the most important to get right as it ties in with every other element of digital marketing. The tagline on your website’s homepage. The image used to promote a special offer that’s shared across your online directory listings. The email you send to customers asking to review you. All of this entails creating content that tells a story. Think of content marketing as the scenery in the story. It’s the element that add meaning to a scene.

The Army: Directory Listings

Can people find you online? When they’re searching Google, do your online listings tell a consistent and accurate story that represents your business? A lot of stories go awry here because a business will have a few correct business listings but far and away too many bad listings that send people who come across their business in the wrong direction.

A few years back I wanted to find the nearest Five Guys for lunch one day. Like most, I searched on Google Maps for “Five Guys near me” and noticed that the closest location was 10 miles away. Little did I know that when I arrived at this location, Five Guys was boarded up and had a closed sign on the front window. They had a bad listing that brought me to a closed store. I wasn’t very happy to say the least and ended up swinging by another burger place on my way back to the office.

The takeaway here is just one incorrect business listing can derail someone’s experience and lead them to competitor. According to Yext, a business’s core information (Name, Phone, Address) changes every 6 days. That’s 61 changers per year. All without the business even knowing about it because people can now suggest changes to your information online as they search and even create new online listings for you.

If you master this element of the story, you could have hundreds of links serving as a beacon shining on your website.

The Obstacle: Reviews & Reputation

For every 1-star in decrease a business gets in their rating, their sales revenue will decrease from approximately 5 to 9%. There’s no greater villain to your story than a 1-star review that went unresolved. However negative reviews can serve their purpose. It gives you the chance to overcome adversity and showcase excellent customer service.

No matter how much you try, a negative review is inevitable. Knowing how to handle a bad review and respond to it could even tell a better story than all your 5-star reviews could.

The Sidekick: Advertising (Google Adwords)

If you think about your website as the hero of the story, you can think about Advertising as the sidekick. Google AdWords or PPC can place your business at the top of search results. It complements the amazing work you’re doing organically and supercharges it, so people discover your website. But the best ads require the right mix of content - tagline, visual, call-to-action, etc. that should be a continuation of your website and overall web presence. Remember each piece should form one complete story.

The Senate: Social Media

A lot of times the court of public opinion and referrals will ultimately dictate your success. But even though referrals may be your primary way of generating new business, you need an online presence if for no other reason than to help the ones referred to you find you. Right or wrong, people are judging you on social media. Conversations about your business are happening every day. It’s up to you if you’re going to listen in and engage.

Gain A Competitive Advantage Through Storytelling

The key to telling the best story is having these parts working together. There needs to be a similar theme, tone, and message across from start to finish.

Think of it as a book. If you have one chapter that tells one story and the very next chapter goes off on a far tangent that’s completely unrelated, it’s going to confuse readers.

The same thing will happen if someone sees your ad on Google, clicks to your website and is sent to a landing page that has different branding, something that looks like it’s from an entirely different company.

So, what story will you tell?

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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain Dedication (CC0) Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com