Developing a story around your product or service has become the watchword in marketing over recent years, but it’s been with us for a very long time. The art of storytelling, and building a story that resonates with your audience, is as old as the hills!
As an SME, being clear about the story behind your brand and what it means to your customers can really help focus your business efforts. When I was a little girl my mother used to say, “do what you love and you won’t have to work a day in your life.” I took her advice and 30 years on named my business after her, Agnes (Marketing). This is the ethos of my business – doing what I love to support local small businesses.
Many firms struggle with identifying ‘their story’, something that is unique to them which will help your customers relate to your business in a more emotive way and in turn enhance and support the value of your product or service in their minds eye.
Outlined below is a guide on how to begin defining your brand story.
Understand your brand
Not always as straight forward as it sounds; the fact is, many businesses find it difficult to articulate exactly what their brand is and what it represents. Before you can develop your own story, you need to really understand the essence of your brand. Having answers to the core questions below will be a great starting point:
· What is your USP? What is it that you do differently or better than anybody else that makes you stand out from the crowd?
· What are your customers’ needs and challenges that you can help solve?
· Why would your customers need the solutions you can provide for them?
· What is currently preventing your customers from finding a solution?
· Why should they choose you over the competition?
There may be other questions that need to be addressed depending on the type of business, but having answers to the above questions is a great starting point. By working through these and answering them as fully as possible, you can begin to find the authenticity behind your own brand, which is aligned to you customers’ needs, and this will make for great storytelling.
Develop a persona
Think of your target audience as one person and get to know this person really, really, well. I once had the pleasure of working with a 175-year-old wool mill who made luxury blankets and throws for other brands. They had a royal warrant and they decided to create their own brand for the first time.
But they weren’t sure who their audience was and therefore they were finding it difficult to decide how to position the brand. Following some market research, we identified our consumer as ‘Donna’. We knew how old she was, how many children she had, that her home was her castle and where she entertained most of the time. We knew what luxury items she valued and which products she needed but didn’t overspend on.
Knowing ‘Donna’ so well made it easy to make decisions about what marketing activity to do and which retailers to approach: ‘would Donna shop there?’, ‘would Donna read that magazine?’.
Your brands persona should be based on research of talking to your clients or prospects. Your ‘Donna’ is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal client or customer. To define your persona correctly, you need to understand what they believe in, what they love and what they fear, what drives them, and what they desire. The more information you have at your disposal to develop and build a fully-rounded persona, the more targeted your storytelling and marketing can be.
The hero of your story
The best businesses succeed because they know their target customer and what makes them tick – remember, the story isn’t about you! The hero of your story is your ‘Donna’ whom your target customer will identify with and aspire to. The story around your brand needs to resonate with your customer, so they need to clearly identify themselves in your story,
Craft the Journey
Most marketers understand the value of story as an effective way to market and sell – regardless of the product or service. However, less understand the right way to use the narrative and follow through the journey. Once you are happy that you have a hero for your story, you can begin to formulate the journey they might take.
When your persona is looking for solutions to their problems and challenges, your marketing efforts will guide them to answer their questions. When you fully understand the goals your personas face, you can create content and campaigns aimed at their specific issues at every stage of their journeys. Because of this, it’s important to interact as early as possible in the journey so you can shape solutions for them, and take as wide a view as possible to guide their journeys.
When you have carefully crafted your brand’s story, the next step is sharing it with your audience and weaving it into all of your messaging moving forward. As your “shop-window” to the world, your website is a great place to start with this!
I hope you’ve found it useful to get to grips with your brand by thinking fully about your customer profile and persona.
If you’d like to talk about developing a persona for your business, and about opportunities to share your brand’s story, please get in touch.
Agnes Marketing is owned by Lindsey Moore, a Merseyside-based business development and marketing consultant. Lindsey works with ambitious small businesses who are keen to grow, know where they want to get to but need some hand-on support getting there.