If there's one thing that's emphasized at Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, it's the importance of building a brand. Savvy business owners recognize that storytelling is a great way to do this. It's a means of connecting with your customers on a personal level. The more you share of yourself and your values, the stronger the connection.
Here are 5 stories your brand must tell:
About Us Page
If you have a website or Facebook page, you should use this opportunity to talk about yourself. Not in a cold, impersonal way... but warmly and authentically. People love recommending great products and services to their friends. How many times have you heard someone ask for a mechanic recommendation? Invariably, someone responds, "I've got a guy for you!" Even if you're not in a service industry, you want to be that guy! You want to be the brand that people go to when they need a certain product. The way to do that is by telling your story.
Talk about how and why you started your business, and the obstacles you overcame along the way. Be sure to mention what your personal goals are, and why it's so important for you to succeed. There's no need to oversell yourself. Just be honest. Not only will your customers connect with you, they'll root for you!
Whether you're describing them on your website or in promotional material, make your product the hero of its own story. Don't just list its features.
Have a little fun with it. If your product has the potential to make someone's life better or easier, then it deserves to shine!
One of the first ways we started branding ourselves was by replacing all of our dry, boring copy with fun descriptions of our girls' dresses and skirts. Some are short fairy tales, others are poems. This is very much in keeping with our brand, because there's a strong connection between the creativity of our styles, and the creative ways we describe them. Some of our customers tell us they check out other products on our website just to read the stories. It's a great way to keep people shopping.
If you think levity or creativity is in keeping with your brand, don't be afraid to go for it. And if you don't think you have the chops, find a copywriter who does. This is how you'll differentiate yourself from your competitors. If your customer is a human being, she'll appreciate it. And if she's not a human being, she'll appreciate being mistaken for one.
Who doesn't enjoy being treated like a star? Show your appreciation for your best customers by featuring them on your website or Facebook page. Ask if they're interested, then send them a few questions. Most customers will be flattered and jump at the opportunity. Ask how they discovered you, and what they like best about your business. It's one thing for you to talk about how great your brand is, but it's another when a happy customer does it for you. At TwirlyGirl, we ask our customers to interview their children, then send in photos of their girls wearing our twirly dresses. We then transform their interview into a short movie and feature it on our website. We get great promotional material and our customer feels like a star. Everyone wins!
Some customers need extra assurance that you're not going to abandon them should a problem arise. It's a valid concern. Now's your chance to prove that you're not a faceless corporation, but a living, breathing person who can be trusted. If you use this opportunity to speak "legalese," you'll hardly win their trust. But if you talk to them like you're a friend, you'll put them at ease.
Follow Up Emails and Promotional Material
Okay, so your customer just purchased from you. You can move on to the next guy, right? Wrong. Throw in one last story in their confirmation email. Let them know they just made the best decision of their life. Show them a glimpse of their amazing future now that they're using your product. It's okay to exaggerate here, because they know you're just having fun. When a customer places an order with us, we use this opportunity to go a little crazy.
So does any of this actually make a difference? Well, we get a lot of customer feedback on our Facebook page as well as the product reviews tab on our website. The first thing customers usually say is how much they love our clothing. And almost as many people comment about how much people love our brand. Reading their warm thoughts is almost like getting a hug from them. And it's all because we share our stories.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.