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How Storytelling Can Increase Your Clientele

Written by Sarah Gray

Women Speaking Telling Her StoryBusiness leaders and corporate executives have come to realize the importance of storytelling and how it can encourage a company’s success. While facts and statistics may seem like a realistic approach, you’ll find that you can incorporate personal anecdotes and stories to engage more customers.

Honesty and Truthfulness

According to brand advertising firm Brandfever, “Employees and customers are on an ever-increasing manhunt for transparency. We want to know where our food is grown. We want to know how it’s made. We want to be not only reassured through advertising, but given data and hard facts about GMOs, nutritional additives, worker’s rights, equal pay, fair trade, and any number of minute parts of the whole.” An insincere and inconsistent story will only confuse your clientele and send them in the direction of your competition.

When it comes to storytelling, you want your tale to be honest, truthful and relatable to your business. This relevance will also make your product or service seem more realistic in what you’re trying to portray to the consumer.

Practice What You Preach

Sounding scripted can give your story too much of a sales pitchman type of approach. That’s why you want to ditch the verbatim dialogue by practicing what you preach. When it comes to trying to sell your product or service to the consumer, you want your message to come across genuine and sincere. Try abandoning the cue cards and teleprompter and speak directly to the consumer from the heart.

Take a Personal Approach

A personal story related to what your company offers can tug at the heartstrings of your consumer base. If you sell prosthetic devices that can aid in a person walking, seeing or using their hands, you can personalize this approach. Showing video of an individual getting the chance to experience movement for the very first time with a prosthetic limb will allow your customers to remember your business more than citing studies and research findings. You can also humanize the storytelling further by talking about your own personal experiences in using the product or service.

The Recipe of a Good Storyteller

As with any good book, your business story should have an interesting beginning, middle and end to it. A strong opening should reel the client in with its captivating cast of characters. The middle should provide drama that correlates to the problems and discord the characters may be experiencing. When it’s time for the end, the culmination should bring everything together with the right resolution. A good story will make your clientele feel glad that they came along for the ride. It will also instill curiosity into sticking around to see what else you have in store for them.

Save Something for the Future

While a good story should be a page turner, you want your audience to come back wanting more. Saving something for the future is an excellent marketing tool when you implement little teasers through social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Piquing their curiosity with future stories is also a great way to build the right rapport and earn their trust. Strong customer relationships will also generate word of mouth contact when your current clients speak highly about your product or service to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Integrating good storytelling skills into your business brand advertising is a relatable way for your customers to stay connected. It also plants a seed for future ideas, emotions and thoughts into their brains, so you can relay the right message for your company product or service.

About the Author
Atlanta writer Sarah Gray is an avid researcher and freelance author who enjoys writing about various small business topics hoping to shine a light on information that may be unbeknownst to others. Feel free to reach out to her via Google+ and LinkedIn regarding business inquiries.

Photo on Flickr by Nazareth College

Getty Images, Beacon Tech, and Cauliflower Pizza – Friday Flutterings

I like that Getty Images has embraced embedding photos, though there are still (smart) limitations. As HubSpot offers in this piece, “free comes with a price.”

… If you’re looking to stay informed about iBeacon and Beacon Technology, Doug Thompson offers news, education, and trend spotting at BEEKn. Even if you’re not interested (yet), you should be reading and following this information.

… We’re going to find out if The Secret to Perfect Cauliflower Pizza Crust really works during Spring Break. Our toppings include a Ginger-Garlic-Advocado sauce topping and stir-fry type of vegetables. Stay tuned.

UpCity offers a lot of great tools and information for small business, especially in their recent examples of extending reach and improving findability beyond their geographical borders. Not surprising, really – that’s a core of their business.

…I’m looking forward to watching Noah, though I can do without the side story of its disclaimer (see press release). I know a lot of storytelling that goes on across the globe every Sunday morning, where the audience hears stories “inspired” by God’s word, but hardly 100% accurate – and no disclaimers. All sides should grab some popcorn and enjoy the movie. If it sends people to the Bible, that’s a good thing.  Lots of back story on the movie at SlashFilm.

Dx3  Canada (digital times three – marketing, advertising, and retailing) just finished up, but you can still catch up on some of the great presentations, thanks to this Uberflip hub.

Previous Friday Flutterings:

Doing Less Can Lead To More [Slides]

Sometimes, doing less can lead to more.

The plight of many small business owners is some of the projects they take on are big. They can be divided up into smaller pieces, smaller projects.

More can be the result of Less:

  • More Agile
  • More Affordable
  • More Information
  • Better Decisions (with More Information)
  • Better Measurement (the More Information)
  • Do More of what makes your business great
  • Get better at new things with smaller steps

The slideshow above is a small part of a big project for SmallBizTracks. The project also includes a video, social media, advertising, and email marketing campaign, each targeted to a specific audience.

Overseeing Bigger Projects Campaign

Collaborative Business Alliances – Be the Resource for Customers

Sharing Information on a ComputerWho knows your customers better than you do?

Knowing your own customer is something you’ve been working on since before you opened your doors the first time, right?. If you think about it, one of the strongest collaborations you have in your business is the one with your customers. They’ve come to rely on your experience and your expertise.

Since you know your customers so well, what they want, what they value, what they are trying to accomplish in life, you are in position to be the resource for them, sharing informational, educational, and at times entertaining links and resources you find.

You could subscribe to certain categories on Alltop, use  Google Alerts, and social search engines such as Topsy and BuzzSumo and send along informative or interesting items. Be the resource for your customers.

It’s simple really, as you peruse the web – either in search or through regular reading – when you happen across something you find might interest one of your customers, send it in an email. I’ll often include this sentence:

“Found this and thought it might interest you or your customers – Use as Desired.”

Be the resource for you customer. It remains a practice which can create a lifetime of loyalty.

Note: One of the occasional “tracks” we do is set up a small business owner with a few feeds to monitor, whether it’s for their own business or so they can “be the resource” for their customers. If this basic track is of interest to you, simply connect with me via phone, email, or any of the options listed in the sidebar. I’ll be glad to be your resource.

Collaborative Business Alliances – Like Practice, Across Borders

Unfolded Map of the AmericasWhen thinking about collaborating with other small businesses, most small business operators would think localized or regional pairings using proximity or shared customer base as the common thread.

Another type of collaborative business alliance might join two or more similar companies or practices, separated by geography, which can strengthen the operations and production value of each company.

Increases Value

Using some of the tools and technology readily available, these alliances might produce opportunities to share and create value for each party’s customers:

There may be a case where one “partner” is strong in teaching or coaching (great for step-by-step How-To slides or videos), while another has a strong speaking voice and presence (podcasts or voice-over work). Work from each other’s strengths.

The production doesn’t have to stop with just digital opportunities.

Renews Strength

Professional development, with such alliances also acting as an advisory board or brain storm team, building off and upon strengths by sharing ideas and best practices. The single owner of a business or the solopreneur sometimes finds it difficult to talk with operators from other types of businesses, so these like-practice pairings can be a real asset.

Extends Reach

Alliances like these can stretch geographic borders intrastate (Oakland-to-Orange County), interstate (Camp Hill, PA-to-Chapel Hill, NC), or overseas (London, Ontario-to-Lisbon, Portugal).

It’s a global marketplace, so a collaborative business alliance can provide owners of small businesses across borders. Increases value, renews strength, and extends reach.

A great place to begin looking for similar business owners to possibly pair with is

Photo via morgueFile by xandert

Setup and Produce a Podcast

Collaborative Business Alliances – Shared Customer Base

Panel of Speakers at MeetingHave you heard the one about the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker?

In today’s market place with collaborations and business alliances becoming a popular device to extend reach and broaden a customer base – the third one (Candlestick maker) is a bit of a mismatch, isn’t it? I could see potential replacements in the Casserole Maker or Salad Dressing Shaker.

The question for your small business is what type of businesses share your customer base? Sharing in such a way that a collaboration might add value to your customers while making each business stronger in a presentation?

Think for a minute on Home Improvement:

Shared Customer Base – Home Owners, especially those looking to raise the value of their homes…

Potential Alliances with – Interior Design, Landscaping, Handymen or General Contractors, Painters, Flooring, HVAC, Real Estate professionals, Pest Control, …

Another example might be Automobile Care:

Shared Customer Base – Fleet Auto Owners, especially those with utility or work vehicles…

Potential Alliances with – Insurers, Mechanics, Auto Parts, Tools and Accessories, Logistics, Tires, Communications, Signs and Decals, Auto Auctions, …

There are probably two or three potential alliances for your business and customer base, too. Can you think of a few?

Rather than hopping in a tub (like the three folks of the nursery rhyme), perhaps you get in front of the Tube – as in YouTube. Or a webinar.  Or an E-book.

Collaborating on something digitally should take precedence over efforts offline. Why? A digital product like a video, a webinar, an E-book, all are findable and available around the clock. Once produced, there are no scheduling conflicts, fewer costs, and opportunities for your customers to share with their networks.

Remember to provide a call-to-action. If there’s a download or gateway to access, have an e-mail opt-in (create a new list for the alliance – don’t use one participant’s existing list).

Maybe those three in the tub above were looking for a Floral Designer to do a “Romatic Dinners” podcast, hmm?

Photo on Flickr by MWTaskForce with cc

Build Your Optin Email List

Collaborative Business Alliances – Who’s In Your Corner?

Williamston_MI_businessesCollaborative Business Alliances, in various forms and names, have been around for a long time.

There are differences in labels and levels of agreement and partnerings, but the coming together of two or more parties in order to extend reach, gain traction, and bring more value to a shared customer base has existed since market places of long ago.

The deeper and more complex the agreement, legal documentation might be prudent, but sometimes an outline and mutual agreement to expectations and deliverables might be all you need.*

Here are a few simple examples of alliances:

  • A local merchants association may celebrate with participating business owners having a sidewalk sale or sales blitz.
  • A community trade association may partner with its local chamber or similar associations on a trade show or charitable telethon.
  • Several craft and art enthusiasts gather together to have a show at a local school or auditorium.
  • A neighborhood celebrates during a weekend with a neighborhood garage sale and feast.

There are many different forms of such partnerships, from Joint Ventures to Retail Kiosks and Pop-Up Stores, to simple consignment sales done on a handshake.

A trend in online marketing is how two or more individuals or organizations partnering together to create a product or event in order to increase sales or a form of outreach to new audiences.

There are opportunities for your business, maybe geographically or perhaps demographically. There might be a shared customer base with a non-competitive business (i.e., house cleaning service and landscape maintenance company).

As you look at your regional reach, what types of businesses share a similar customer base?

As you look at your niche market, who do you know outside of your reach? How can you come together?

Photo of Williamston, MI on morguefile by AcrylicArtist

*The thoughts in this article are intended for informational, educational, or motivational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult a qualified legal attorney in cases of forming partnerships.

What I Do Every Day Matters More (Thoughtography)

Greatchen Rubin Quote on Consistency overlayed on photo of work gloves

“What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.” – Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin has presented us with several good books to read and presentations to watch. The quote here can be found in 99u‘s book, Manage Your Day-to-Day Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind.

Frequency and Consistency Matter.  For you and those you serve.

photo credit: Derby City (Rachel Pace) via photopin cc

Videos on How To Do Video for Your Small Business

You want to shoot video for your small business? Where do you start? What about lights? Microphone? Cameras? Action?

Nobody wants to go through an ordeal like this while creating videos for their small business:

Here are a few tips on avoiding problems like those above (sound may vary).

Start with a Storyboard

Lights and Lighting

Camera Placement

Get Comfortable in Front of the Camera

Speak Through the Microphone

Shooting the Video

Editing Using YouTube Video Editor

Having Courage

Maybe you won’t win any awards, but that’s not really where it starts, is it? From imagination and courage are where such things begin:

As a youth, Saturdays were filled with visual candy of cartoons in the morning and movie matinees in the afternoon. In 2014, we’ll be sharing Saturday videos from TED, subscriptions from YouTube, and other videos shared via feeds.

An Old Whistle Stops Collection

Foundry-Whistle-StopOpening Note: This page is dynamic as I try to collect the best links from past pages.

When this train was just getting started, I used to post a daily list of top links that I felt would assist those business folks I was coaching. This was before Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn as a stream of link sharing practices.

Sharing the links was never meant to be an attempt to elicit “link love” – it was simply sharing good links with my customers, prospects, and readers. I still use a similar practice on Twitter and other places.

In an effort to clean up some outdated pages of this site, I’m keeping some of the best links here on this page. Some of these links are years old – but still have value. Enjoy the archive. Glean what you can.






Big Ideas (and small ones too)

Cool Tools

Whistle Stops remains active here in two parts, one is a weekly newsletter for SmallBizTracks and the other is still shaping up, possibly as a “wall of fame” with best of the best links I find here and there – we’ll see how that all works out.

Photo on morguefile by jppi

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