How to Tell Stories Your Audience Wants to Read

Last blog post we talked about putting a twist on traditional stories. It’s important to tell creative stories that your audience wants to read. But, how in the world do you know what stories your audience wants to read?

You may be tired of hearing it but it all goes back to knowing who your audience is. Repeat that out loud. Know Your Audience. If your audience loves unicorns, you better figure out a way to make unicorns part of your story. If your audience loves order and neatness, that needs to be there too.

As mentioned previously, everyone wants to feel like they matter, are understood, belong to a group, and to simply be happy. How they get to that point is different for each individual and is not universal. It’s up to you to study your audience so that you can determine how best to ignite that passion without your audience for your products and / or services. Marketing with stories gives you a way to do that in a creative manner. But, exactly like all marketing: You must know your audience.

Start With Your Audience’s Problems — Pinpoint a specific problem that a member of your target audience has. Craft a story around that one problem with the solution to that problem being part of the moral of the story always remembering to tell your audience what to do next.

Ask Your Audience What They Want — Talk to them, form open communication paths with your audience. You can do this with email, social media, or through your website’s blog. But, however you do it, your audience must always be at the center of every story, every product, every service, and every thought in order to be successful.

Give Your Audience Solid Examples of Success — Using feedback from your customers, and solid statistical research show your audience what success looks like. Infographics, images that help tell the story and other visual elements will help make it more readable and interesting.

Entertain Your Audience with a Twist — Make it not boring. No one is going to read your stories if they’re boring. Create a hook and carefully craft a story that will entertain your audience on their level using marketing stories that they will want.

Audiences who read, relate and engage with your marketing story are a lot more likely to answer your calls to action whether that is to sign up, buy now, or call. Stories are in our DNA, tell a compelling one that resonates and you will win over more customers that you did before. Remember, it’s not about selling, it’s about telling your story in an interesting and engaging manner that your audience wants to read. You can’t do that if you have not taken the time to get to know your audience.

Next blog post I will tell you how to use visuals to make your stories really stand out. I’m not just talking about graphics, but how your text looks, and how you can use certain words to draw pictures in your audience’s mind.

Word of Mouth Marketing in the B2B World

Traditionally, word of mouth marketing has mostly been focused on business to consumer scenarios. The idea being to create an environment where consumers are encouraged to talk about, and perhaps recommend, a business to their friends and family.

The same idea can, with a few adjustments, be applied in business to business situations. What we’re looking for here is creating a “buzz” within an industry or business segment.

The power of the launch

There is little else that can generate so much interest and buzz as an exciting, upcoming launch event. Whether it’s for a new product or service, or just something interesting that’s happening in the company, with the right approach it’s possible to get people talking about it months before the actual event. The trick is coming up with an idea that, even when revealed beforehand in only vague terms, gets people’s imagination going. There has to be a feeling that there’s something BIG coming.

Some companies in the B2C sector have perfected this approach – a great example is Apple, who has millions of people all over the world eagerly anticipating their launch/reveal events. This same thinking can be applied to B2B, although usually on a smaller scale.

Of course the whole idea falls short if the actual launch is disappointing. Failing to deliver on the promises made will decrease customer confidence in the business, and getting a second shot may not be easy.

Creative advertising

Just as clever or creative advertising can be used in B2C to encourage discussion and increase brand awareness, the same can be done in B2B. The concept is actually similar to using launch events. To stand out and actually spur discussion and word of mouth, the ads could be controversial, funny or simply mysterious.

As usual some experimentation will most likely have to be done to find out what target businesses respond best to.

Referral programs

Here’s another technique that is used successfully in B2C, and can be adapted to B2B. Many small business owners have friends who are also self employed, meaning they probably talk business amongst each other. If a business has a lucrative referral program, they may be more likely to recommend it to their friends. Of course, just as with B2C, there is a chance these people may not treat the recommendation as genuine, considering the person gets a reward for each referral. Still,

In many situations there is really little difference between B2C and B2B when it comes to word of mouth marketing. The goal for the business is exactly the same: do something that gets people excited and talking about it. The main difference is probably that a bit more professionalism is expected in B2B situations, and the target audience may be a little harder to reach and impress. Otherwise it’s basically the same, and as always some elbow grease and a willingness to experiment is the key to success.

Putting a Twist on Traditional Stories

Last blog post I told you about several common mistakes made when marketing with stories. This blog post is going to talk about the idea of putting a twist on traditional stories to add interest, fun and excitement to your story.

When telling your brand’s story, or your customers’ stories, a great way to peak interest is to do a play on traditional stories that we all grew up with, know and love. Boy meets girl can become boy meets product or service. Girl meets her prince charming can become girl buys her own park avenue suite because she followed your method to start a six figure business.

There are many ways in which to approach this. We can take some lessons from TV shows that use tried and true methods for bringing in new audiences, and exciting the ones they have. You know as well as I do that when something is good, people talk. If your story is good, and told in a unique and interesting way it will be shared.

The Guest Star — Know any movers and shakers who like your products or services? Ask them to tell you and your audience their story.

The Hero — It’s fun when the story culminates with a product or service saving the day and making someone’s life easier.

Coming of Age — This is a classic story where the main character has a revelation about a problem that changes his or her life.

Spin Offs — Remember the Taster’s Choice’s coffee commercials or the Country Crock commercials that became their own little series? The same can happen with a well told story about one or more of your consumers with follow ups and behind the scenes additions.

Drama — If you can add some drama into your stories you can shake up your audience in new ways. You can add obstacles in the way of your main character and then only at the last minute let your product or service form the solution that sets your character free.

Humor — Nothing is better than humor to sell a product or service. If you can find the humor (and your audience can too) in the needs, desires, hopes and dreams and even problems that your product or service brings to fruition or solves then you’ve got story gold.

Finally, it’s okay to use different forms of content to get your story out, in fact it’s best. Don’t just use one way to tell even the same story. Use text, audio, visual, images and more to make marketing with stories come alive. In truth, the biggest sin outside of understanding your audience you can make is being boring.

Next blog post we’ll talk about how you can avoid being boring by figuring out in advance what stories your audience wants to read.