This is going to be very difficult for me to write. Okay, you know that’s not true. If you’ve read any of my other posts—like my fictional case study—you know I love to weave stories.
Stories are powerful. They linger. They make an impression. In some cases, they’re passed down for generations. Stories can play upon memories and hopes and sometimes compel you to take action.
Imagine taking that power and entwining it with your marketing. Actually, you don’t need to imagine it. Let’s talk about how you can do it. In the next 1,000 words or so, I’ll share with you the importance of the story.
First, let’s understand the process. Clearly, you can’t cram 1,000 words onto a coupon and set it free to your customers. I assure you that’s not going to work.
So, what’s the point, you ask? Why are we even talking about creating stories? Because you are going to base your coupon launch on your story. You’re going to take the choicest elements of your story and use them in your marketing. But you need the story first, right?
Why Use Stories in Your Marketing?
Did you notice above when I said stories linger, make an impression, and perhaps even compel someone to take action? Aren’t those the exact things you want your marketing to do?
Depending on what you sell, it may be difficult to find a story behind it. But I would say there’s a story for anything if you took the time to think about it.
If you can come up with a story that resonates with people—with your audience—you have a winner. Especially if it does what every marketer wants their audience to do—take action. Buy your product or service.
I can almost hear the moaning as you all say, but how? I sell cookie jars. I don’t know any stories about cookie jars.
I admit cookie jars are going to be easy to come up with stories for. Multiple stories about them popped into my head immediately. Some based on memory, some sprang from the creative side of my brain.
I thought of a great story about getting your hand smacked while it was still in the jar, and I’m not telling you if that was a memory or fiction.
If you don’t sell anything that easily conjures up memories and stories, don’t despair. Do some brainstorming. Seriously. Have you ever played word association games? Write down whatever your product makes you think of, no matter how silly it seems. The purpose of this step is just to get your brain firing.
You may need to let it sit for a while. Then come back with fresh eyes. Is there a common thread visible? What about your product impacts you? If you find that thread, you have the basis for your story. You have the thread to pull.
But what if you’re stumped? Ask for input. Ask someone else to go through the same process with you. Between the two of you, the story may gel.
Uncovering a Narrative
I’m sorry if you thought the last step was hard because this one is going to be harder. Especially if you’re not a natural born writer. And even then, some stories only come into this world with a lot of hard work and sweat.
But keep your eyes on the prize. Remember what the prize is? Your awesome marketing campaign that is going to resonate with your customers and get them to take action.
In the last step you—hopefully—found the thread or theme of your story. The foundation you’re going to lay your building blocks on. And you might need to go further afield than your own imagination and knowledge to build that story.
Who knows your product more intimately than you do? Its creators. Designers. Manufactures. Set up a meeting with one of them if possible and pick their brains.
This is especially useful if they’re passionate about their product. You could gain insights you never thought of, and now you have that to weave into your story as well. And hopefully, some of that passion might rub off on you. Because if that shines through in your story, that’s a huge bonus—if you can build it into your marketing, it will be like sprinkling magic beans on your campaign.
Yes, that’s a different story, but remember the growth those beans caused? Wouldn’t you like to see some growth like that due to your marketing? Of course, you would.
Revealing Benefits in Story Form
In the world of sales, we have something called benefit selling. Sure, the features of a product are important, and at times, features alone may sell a product. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying features aren’t an important part of the sales equation, because they are. But showing someone how a product or service benefits them? That’s gold.
So the picture your story paints should make sure those benefits are boldly portrayed. You want your customer to hone in on those benefits immediately. The faster they see how your product could help them in some way, the faster they take action.
Know Your Audience and Match Your Tone
I can’t coach you on what the appropriate tone for you would be, because I don’t know your audience. Only you, your team, and your audience know that.
Let’s say your store sells baby products and mothers are naturally your main audience. Mothers—especially new mothers—are nurturing and caring. Soothing, but often stressed and looking for advice and direction. Your story should speak to that mindset. Mirror that mindset.
Now let’s say your store sells biker gang gear. If you communicate with this audience that same way you did with the audience above, you may as well give up and close your store now.
Know your audience and match your tone.
Clearly State Your Call-to-Action
I’ve mentioned several times that a story can move someone to take action. That should be your goal with your story. You have a clear cut purpose and your story should be taking the reader where you want to go. But don’t get so caught up in your story you forget its intent. To share the selling points and make people take action.
Now you know how to craft a story. Does your story have to be 1,000 words? Absolutely not. Your story only needs to be as long as it needs to be to have the key points mentioned above. It’s not just whole stories that hold power. Short sentences are powerful too. Even mere words.
Take those sentences and words. Use them on your coupon. Lead your audience to a page that tells the whole story if you choose. You can do that by generating URLs that lead to your story’s page.
Rinse and repeat.