• Gina Micek

Effective storytelling: a vital component of business marketing

About a month ago, I ran into some friends and mentioned my attendance at the University of Washington's Certificate in Storytelling and Content Strategy. They looked at me incredulously and said, "Storytelling and marketing?"

A few weeks after that, I spoke with another friend and she assumed the certificate was in creative writing or maybe marketing my writing.

Consumers really don't get it but they consume it

The fact is, many people, like my well-meaning friends, consume marketing and content but don't realize the craft that goes into the strategy, story, brand messaging or even the way it is presented to the customer. They re-post articles and blogs, they pin images on their Pinterest boards, they retweet.

Now that most of us have some digital footprint, it is more important than ever to understand the impact of compelling storytelling. The consumer is looking for cool stuff out there to share with friends or add to their awareness and knowledge. They don't care that you sell widgets, they care about the message you are conveying which interests them.

Building an effective content strategy

The other piece of your business marketing that you need to get right is strategy and analysis. This is no child's game here managing cute social media pages "just for fun." There are whole agencies like Duluth-based Aimclear who specialize in making sure your pages are ranking, and ranking well. After all it can make the difference between a good quarter of sales and crickets in the shopping cart.

Check out my previous blog on starting with a content audit, so you can first get a sense of what you already have. Once that is complete, you'll want to develop a plan for each channel and measure its effectiveness with consumers by analyzing the data. You can make adjustments to content and storytelling based on what you find out and use that process to hone your messaging.

Storytelling and brand messaging

Despite my friend's misunderstanding of the certificate, storytelling is a vital component of today's business marketing. You are telling a story with everything you do. You want the messages you put out on digital platforms to align with your brand identity. If you are already running a successful brick and mortar business, you know what you are doing right.

How you present your business values, mission and vision in digital form builds your authenticity. Consumers of your products or service need to know they can trust you. They won't trust you if you do and say two different things. A crappy website or social presence, will convey just that - this owner can't possibly be that good if his site looks like something from the early 90s.

In light of Covid-19 and its impact on brick and mortar sales, the attention to detail on your website, social and e-commerce capability could mean the difference between surviving the recession or failing miserably.

There's such thing as being too close to your business

If you are just getting a hang of digital, It can be tricky to see where you are not fully expressing your potential online. Maybe you put a lot of time and effort, or even money into a site build. So you hope it just works as is. Unfortunately, the world of digital and Google, search and marketing, is literally always changing. So you'll need to spend some resources in this area to really see effective long-term results.

Nevertheless, the upfront time spent developing your strategy and honing your brand voice will pay-off. Improving how your brand tells stories to your customer base so they want to consume your content is key and takes some practice. Obtaining some impartial feedback and looking at the numbers is vital.

You'll use metrics and adjust your storytelling over time to really create an impressive digital presence. Your loyal customers may not understand your content strategy but they will feel like they are being seen and heard. They will also tell everyone how much they love your business.

If you need assistance conducting a content audit, developing your brand messaging or creating a content strategy -- anything which will improve your business' marketing communications -- please feel to reach out. I work with clients like you to take an objective look using a compassion and authentic approach.

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