Inbound marketing is about connecting with your audience by drawing them into your ideas and then presenting what you have to offer. One of the best ways to gather an audience is to tell a story – just like people have been doing around campfires for generations. While there’s no campfire online, there is an opportunity to sell through story telling on your website, blog and through social media.
Telling Your Own Story
In his book Primal Branding, Patrick Hanlon asserts the need for every brand to have its own “creation story” that customers can slip themselves into and identify with. Storytelling is a natural way to help people relate to your brand. When done properly, it makes your customers feel like you are on the same team—which you are!
This is one area where business can borrow from the world of fiction writers here and use what writing coaches call a “sympathetic protagonist.” This is typically an individual—whether it is the person who came up with the idea for your product or brand, the person who took the brand and transformed it, or the founder of your company—who has a vision to do something better than it's been done before, and who runs into resistance on his or her journey make it happen.
Typically, your creation story should start with one or more of the above mentioned people, who is facing off against a problem (the foundation of any good story).
What's Your Problem? Every Good Story Has One
Sometimes this problem can be obvious. Other times, you will need to search to find it. A brand's history usually start when someone sees the need for innovation in their market, or wants to otherwise meet a need that has not been sufficiently met.
Perhaps you're selling software that tracks student grades and compares grades with disciplinary reports, noting not only the grade-to-report ratio, but also comparing disciplinary actions on specific dates with test an homework scores from that same week?
The problem-to-be-overcome in this example is easy to spot. It's the kind of thing that makes for a great creation story that will easily draw in readers from your market.
Not sure what your “problem” is? Maybe you weren't even thinking of a problem when you first started out? Look at it this way: what is the major thing that your firm does better than anyone else's?
Even if your founder, founders, or innovators weren't consciously thinking of it at the time, there's a chance that on some level, they knew there was an unmet need. Your company’s story can focus around recognizing and meeting that need. The problem here would be that no one was meeting this need for your area—and your firm and its innovators would be the solution!
Resistance and Triumph Over Resistance: The Final Steps of Your Story
Nothing worth doing is easy, 99% of the time. Your company has run into resistance in some form. This often comes in the form of idealistic resistance, or simply in no one else believing in the company founder's great idea.
Many movers and shakers in every industry have run up against this kind of disbelief. Google had a difficult time getting funding at first, because no one believed there was any money in search. The Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, was rejected by 140 different publishers before it made it to bookstore shelves!
Your examples aren't likely to be as dramatic. They don't have to be. As long as you have a struggle that you encountered (we all have) when it comes to your business or brand, your customers will be able to relate. Even if they haven't run up against the specific type of resistance your brand faced, they will still be able to relate to encountering that resistance.
With a problem to solve and resistance to solve it, you have the foundation for creating a story that is truthful, engaging and will motivate readers to take the next step with you.
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