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The Pragmatist’s Guide to Small Business Marketing

Ep. 5: Story Telling


Once upon a time, there was a business that offered high quality stuff, excellent service and great prices. They were founded in 1400 B.C. They have a great process… yadda, yadda, yadda. WHO CARES!?!?

How many times do you go to a web site, look over a brochure, or hear or see a commercial that harps on price, quality and service? How often is the message you’re getting all about the company that’s delivering it, while giving you nothing that shows they understand what you want or need? When that happens, how quickly do you tune out?

Many, too many, businesses fall into this trap with their copywriting. They’re very proud of how long they’ve been in business. They’re proud of what they have to offer and how they do business. And if they’ve been around for any amount of time, they should be. But from a customer perspective, who cares? What is that business telling you that shows they understand you?

When you’re crafting your marketing story, get over yourself.

Put your customer front and center. Make your story about them. Show that you understand them. Put everything in the context of their perspective. Sure, somewhere down the line, price, quality and service are important. But the most important thing is the customer. Showing the value of what you’re offering from their perspective will get you past “so what,” to an a-ha moment. It will help to drive the audience to take action, whether that’s learning more about your business, calling you or stopping in to your shop.

I have a test I use on materials when I take on a new client. I call it the “We/You Test.” I look over their brochure, web site, etc., and tally the references to ‘I/we’ versus the ‘you’ references. If the ‘I/we’ references are any more than around 30% of the ‘you’ references, your story is broken. And ideally, the ‘I/we’ references should be around 20%. Relegate the price, quality, service and company history to the back panel or the About section. It’s not compelling. It’s not front page material.

By showing you know your customers’ need, pain, aspirations, etc., you’ll connect with them on a deeper, emotional level… and that’s something that your competition likely isn’t doing. You’re building brand affinity. And that is magic.

So tell your story the right way. Look at things from your customers’ perspective and make it all about them!