The Olympics are over but the images from the games are lingering in my mind. I watched a little bit of everything -- from water polo and climbing, to track and swimming, to bike racing and gymnastics. The picture that takes up the most my 2020 Olympics memory, however, isn’t anything that happened at one of the events. It’s a picture of Suni Lee’s front yard where the homemade balance beam that she practiced on as a child could be found.
Imagine for a moment that you went to a lake, launched your boat, and started to fish without knowing if the body of water was an environment where fish could thrive. Your results will be hit or miss. You could be super lucky and get a bite with every cast. You could go through the whole day without a single nibble. Maybe you have a bit of success and you bring in a few fish in return for the investment of your time, your equipment and the energy you expended to plan your day and get there. What would be better, would be to learn about the kind of fish you want to catch, and go where you know you’ll find them, and be prepared to use the right fishing techniques to reel them in. So it is with Buyer Personas.
We’re getting quite predictable, you and me. We use our consumer behaviors to shop for just about anything, be it a new dishwasher for our home, a software tool for work, or even our next job opportunity. Don’t believe me? Answer these questions.
If you ask, your clients are generally happy to put out a good word for you. They’ll refer you to their friends and colleagues. They’ll respond to your customer satisfaction surveys with high marks and a smiley face. They’ll even give you a favorable review on Facebook or Google. Unfortunately, the feedback, while good, isn’t necessarily compelling because what they have to say is flat. That is, it doesn’t take the reader up and over the dramatic arc, a necessity if you want to activate empathy – which you do.
If you want to use case studies to differentiate your business and gain buyers’ trust, the first thing you need to do is find the stories that you need to tell. Once you know how to uncover these stories, and you get your whole company involved, you’ll discover that you have a consistent source of ideas for the best type of content that influences your buyers’ decisions. No special tools are needed to give these five tactics a try.
When I was working on the brand story for my business, something hit me right between the eyes. Storytelling is a competitive advantage. It hit me so hard that I changed my tag line to reflect this concept. The reason why it’s a competitive advantage is because it gives you the opportunity to magnify who you are. Storytelling gives you the chance to not just tell people what you do, but to show people who you are and to stand out by telling the stories that only you can tell.
Something a client said at a meeting recently has been mulling around in my head. What she said was a great compliment, although I don’t think she realized it. She validated that my work with their organization is not just to help them with marketing, but it’s also to change the way they think about who they are trying to reach by getting into their story.
Now that I’ve caught you with that headline, I won’t keep you in suspense, but first-- what it isn’t. The single most important ingredient in your success story isn’t success. It’s distress. Surprisingly enough, when you leave out the struggle that led to your success, you really have no story at all.
I know why you haven’t started using a storytelling approach to your marketing and communications. You’ve been hearing about it everywhere – from your industry organization, in your social media feed, at training events. You’re sold on its power to connect, persuade and motivate people. You just haven’t taken that first step. Here’s why. You don’t know how to find the stories you need to tell.
Just before sitting down to write this, I had to do a search to see if you could still get jack-in-the-box toys. You can. You can get them in even more variations than the standard clown that was the norm when I was growing up. The ageless thrill of the jack-in-the-box is a mixture of predictability and surprise. You know as you turn the handle what’s going to happen. Yet when the lid flips up and the toy pops out, it’s always a surprise. This is what happens in storytelling, and I call it impact and insight.