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Every Business Has a Story to Tell

More often than not, there’s a reason why businesses open their doors. Don’t take my word for it; take my daughter’s. She’s been glued to Shark Tank lately. What she latches onto most is the story they tell about why they’re in front of the “sharks” in the first place. You know, the basic storytelling narrative of who, what, when, where, and why. And I would agree, it’s fascinating.

Sometimes businesses start up as a way of turning a hobby into a way of making money. Sometimes they are motivated by a desire to fill a need that isn’t met by another business. Sometimes it’s part of a long-standing family tradition. Sometimes there’s really a bigger purpose driving it.

It’s safe to say that no business just materializes out of thin air. There’s always a “founder’s story” of sorts that underlies it. That’s why it’s so important to share your business’s story whenever you can. Otherwise, how will your customers ever learn about what make your business tick?

Not to mention, it’s also an almost guaranteed way to build stronger, longer lasting relationships with both your existing and potential customers. And what business owner wouldn’t want that?

In today’s “digital everything” world, it can be hard to create a memorable, stand out experience for consumers – much less across multiple touch points, even those of the non-digital sort, like print ads, direct mail, and your brick and mortar storefront. Your story can do that for you; it can set you apart from your competition. It has the power and influence to build trust and credibility with your customers. It should be a core element of your business’s overall marketing strategy.

There’s really no point in not telling your story. Here are a few more reasons why.

That Invaluable “Human Element”

When you think about it, brands and businesses are no different than people. They all have a unique identity, personality, voice, set of expressions, and more. The only real difference, though, is that businesses tend to hide all of that. But it’s not for a lack of wanting to share. Many business owners just don’t know how to bring that more “human element” into their marketing. That’s precisely where telling your story comes into play.

At YP, we work with business owners each and every day, helping them make the most of their online presence. However, what many businesses don’t realize is that building a more robust online presence doesn’t really require a lot of heavy lifting.

Whether on your business website, across social media, or on the various online business profiles you manage, be sure to add photos, videos, personal stories, and all sorts of other content related to your business that gives customers a closer look into the ins and outs of your business. Even though many consumers today search for local products and services in a transactional way, they lean on these stories to help in assessing whether or not what your business offers is right for them.

In our very own “The Why Before The Buy” research study, we found that this kind of “contextual content” can serve a major decision-making factor for consumers, so much that it’s enough to cause them to choose one business over another. In fact, about 26 percent of shoppers say that reading the “About Us” or “History” section on a business website provides valuable information that helps them decide where to shop.

When your business embodies that intangible, but all too often missed or overlooked “human element,” your business has a better opportunity of connecting and engaging with consumers in a more meaningful and, oftentimes, more relevant way. All it takes, at least as a starting point, is giving consumers a window into your business via your online presence.

Your “Purpose” Builds Credibility

There are a lot of different reasons why businesses come into being. One of the biggest reasons is to solve a problem or to fill a need that’s currently unmet elsewhere in the marketplace. That alone can tell a very powerful and compelling story to consumers, one that not only piques their interest in what your business has to offer, but also builds a certain amount of credibility and trust.

Here’s why. When your entire business is built around addressing a need, you gain instant credibility for being a problem solver. The expertise you bring to solving a consumer’s problem establishes you as an authority. After all, you’ve listened to what people want and need – and have delivered an experience or a solution to meet those needs.

Brands like TOMS, GoPro, CLIF Bar, and Airbnb are good examples of this. They didn’t start out as massive brands. Many were scrappy start-ups for a number of years. But what makes brands and businesses like these – and like yours – unique is that, from the very beginning, they were driven by a specific purpose that soon trickled down through every part of their business. It’s this unwavering sense of authenticity that makes them stand out and be memorable.

An “Emotional Connection” Goes a Long Way

The businesses that succeed for the long-term are not those gunning for short-term profits. They are in it for the long haul and make it a priority to build relationships with customers, beyond simple sales transactions. So, when you think about it from this point of view, it becomes increasingly clear that your unique story can be leveraged in a variety of ways as an invaluable tool that helps you build an emotional connection with consumers.

We have a lot of choices today when it comes to making purchase decisions. Our access to information – thanks in a big part to the predominance of mobile phones – means that we are no longer simply sold to; the relationship we have today with brands and businesses is far more intertwined than ever before. But the reality is, in spite of how great our marketing may be, many consumers today nevertheless make purchase decisions based on emotions. What that basically means is this: you may have all the information you need at your fingertips to make a rational decision, but the emotional connection you have to a brand or business – or even a specific product or service – is likely the deal-breaker.

By telling your story, you begin the process of creating that connection with consumers. Your business becomes more relatable and, as a result, loyalty and trust follows. Word of mouth still reigns as one of the strongest and most influential forms of marketing available today. People don’t go out of the way to praise businesses they don’t love; however, when you’ve created a certain affinity with your customers, you will never have to twist an arm to get them to write a positive review. Because your business adds value to their, they will do their part to help you succeed.

Telling your story is just the beginning of building this connection. Strong customer service, quality products, and a whole slew of other factors go into this. Your story, though, is a constant thread.

Your Story Matters

There are a number of tangible and quantifiable ways to target, reach, and engage consumers – via mobile, display, search, print, in-store, and beyond – but the intangible benefit of telling your story has truly unlimited value. After all, it’s your story to tell. You own it. But it’s up to you to make your story known. While many people may remember an ad in passing, when you tell your story in a compelling way, they’ll never forget your business.

 

Photo Credit: Death to Stock (free license)

Holly brings 20 years of marketing experience to YP, where she leads the YP Marketing Solutions product portfolio and oversees the messaging, positioning, content and event marketing efforts for B2B. She has spent most of her career in media and prior to YP she was at Yahoo, where she managed the B2B marketing team and also spent a number of years at the Los Angeles Times heading up the Advertising Marketing team. 

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