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Why Storytelling is a Powerful Strategic Business Tool

Why Storytelling is a Powerful Strategic Business Tool

Our purchasing decisions, on a daily basis, are affected by the kind of personality that a brand has cultivated for itself and how we relate to the values it embodies. Of course, the product/services the brand offers factors in too, but the role of a strong brand-customer relationship cannot be overlooked.

That’s why storytelling is a powerful strategic business tool, because, more often than not, it is through the stories that brands tell that we decide how we feel about them.

Storytelling allows brands to experiment with their creativity and write content that are like short stories. Be it your blog or a thoroughly researched article, you can weave a personal narrative or stories of other people into them to make your content interesting.

Such content creates intrigue and engages readers, and the stories help brands build a relationship with the customers. Brands can then reinforce that relationship by living up to their word—and, of course, with the quality of their product or service—to ensure brand loyalty.

Stories can be a powerful tool in any given situation, and the business sector isn’t immune to the magical powers of storytelling. Today, social sharing, social media marketing, and content marketing are big parts of a business’s promotional strategy, and storytelling is at the very core of these tools.

Stories are a perfect way to create a personality for your brand, make sure your readers remember you, and to inspire potential customers to make actual purchases.

Storytelling Helps Brands Depict What Values They Embody

There are thousands of brands out there in any industry. How, in this case, do brands create a personality for themselves that stands out from their competitors and that users can relate to?

Through storytelling.

Consider this for a second.

If you are showcasing and promoting your personal brand on your website or blog, would people want to know what you believe in?

Definitely.

From sharing what you believe in, to what incidents made you imbibe certain values in your personal and professional life goes a long way in cultivating your own unique personality.

Thanks to social media and a plethora of business blogs that allow customers to follow companies and their work regularly, people expect these businesses to have their stories too. And through the power of stories, brands can establish clearly what their core values and mission are.

Warby Parker: socially conscious eyewear

Take, for example, Warby Parker, an eyewear brand that sells quality glasses at affordable prices. Their story speaks of how the company was born when as students one of them had to go a whole semester without glasses, living his life surrounded by blurry images.

They wanted to be able to see the world clearly without having to empty their bank accounts and wished to offer a solution to other people too.

The founders say that the company was founded ‘with a rebellious spirit’ and aims to offer ‘designer eyewear at a revolutionary price’ and forge the ‘socially conscious business’ path.

Their brand story incorporates their mission and the values that guide them, but that’s not all it does.

They also create an image of themselves that would appeal to their target market. ‘Rebellious’ and ‘socially conscious’? Millennial consumers surely want to associate themselves with these values. This alignment between the brand’s personality and the target’s beliefs allows the brand to build a special bond of trust with its customers and stand out from its competitors.

If you want to create a unique personality for your brand, you have to tell people what values your company embodies, and the best way to do that is by telling stories.

Tug At The Heartstrings Through Storytelling

Research has shown time and again that in the post-truth era emotions usually win the battle against facts. Now, I am not asking you to lie to your consumers about your products. All I am saying is rather than making your product specifications the sole focus of your marketing efforts, try tugging at consumers’ heartstrings through storytelling. According to a study, stories are up to 22 times more memorable than just facts.

Oliver Sacks: making neurology accessible through narrative

Though it’s not a business-related example, when it comes to storytelling, I can’t help but mention the accomplished neurologist and colorful raconteur Oliver Sacks. He understood that it was important for medical journals and articles about complex brain functions to be accessible to the uninitiated. And he believed the best way to get the wider public interested in such complicated articles was to weave them into engaging narratives and stories.

He delivered complex neurological case studies in the form of quirky stories like ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’, ‘The Music Never Stopped’, and ‘The Brain-Damaged Hare Krishna Who Believed He Had Reached Enlightenment’, among other stories and books.

Beyond your product

Similarly, when it comes to information about products and services, your readers are less likely to read complex product or service specifications. You need to have that info, but when it comes to converting website visitors into leads, stories about how your brand came to be, what drives your brand, and how it has touched lives are crucial.

Every platform available to you as a business—be it your blog, website, your sales pitch, social media or your business plan—is an opportunity to tell your story. When your story tugs at people’s heartstrings, they are likely to remember your product and develop a personal connection with it.

Your stories allow your customers to look beyond your product and see the people behind it.

Brands like WeddingWire, a one-stop shop for couples planning their wedding, and DanniJo, a jewelry brand founded by two sisters, have hit the nail on the head when it comes to this.

Through an integrated approach, they use all digital platforms from Instagram to their website to podcasts to tell their stories in every possible format. Their posts don’t only feature their products but also how they run their companies on a daily basis and how it has changed their lives.

People’s purchase decision is influenced by what brand they can remember. And businesses constantly use storytelling to elevate them above others and make their brand memorable. But for your stories to have the desired effect, you have to make sure your content is relevant and readable.

Build A Relationship With The Customers

Emotive ads help humanize brands allowing them to foster a relationship with their customers.

Sharing the story of how you developed your brand on your ‘About Us’ page is a great way to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

If you offer digital marketing services, for example, and if you tell people only about products and services, your page is going to look the same as every other digital marketing firm’s. On the contrary, if you tell people how you came to set up your business, you will trigger their interest.

If your customers can relate to certain aspects of your story—about how you quit your day job to make your dream come to fruition, for example—that’s even better. They will see your brand as a reflection of themselves and build a relationship with it.

High Brew Coffee’s page tells the story of how the founder decided to set up a company to sell cold brew coffee when he went on a rafting trip through the Caribbean.

The stories, however, don’t have to be limited to just the founders. Storytelling is an even more effective tool when the stories are coming from people whose lives the brand has changed in ways big or small.

The best example for this is Krochet Kids, a non-profit that produces high-quality, affordable apparel. The company believes in telling not just their own stories but also the stories of their producers. The items come with labels signed by the person who produced them, and customers can go to the person’s profile and read their stories.

That’s a great way Krochet Kids shows customers that it cares about people who are associated with the brand. These stories also help build a connection between individual producers, who work so hard to make the products, and the end-users.

Final Thoughts

With more and more platforms available to brands to tell their stories on, storytelling has taken on a new life. While it did seem like storytelling was going to be outmoded, different kinds of storytelling content are still being used to create a cohesive brand narrative and connect with potential customers. And storytelling has proven to be a powerful strategic business tool.

Why? Because everyone loves stories—be it a fable about a hero who slew a monster or about how your brand’s belief in equal opportunity helped changed someone’s life.

These stories touch our hearts and urge us to act. Storytelling, thus, is a perfect tool to create a personality for your brand, make sure viewers remember you, and to inspire potential customers to make actual purchases.

 

Anish Sah, CEO and Founder of Elance Digital Media, is a Digital Marketing SEO Consultant from Nepal, a Speaker, SEO Trainer, a professional blogger and an established digital marketer. He has an experience of 5+ years in the SEO and Digital Marketing field.

Automating content marketing for WordPress, a chat with Ruth Raventós

Automating content marketing for WordPress, a chat with Ruth Raventós

Content marketing is a popular strategic approach, but it takes time and a lot of efforts. Automating as much as you can content creation, optimization, and distribution can be key to success. We discussed this topic with Ruth Raventós, one of the co-founders of Nelio Software.

If you don’t come from Mars in the world of marketing, you’ve probably heard about content marketing — and, probably, you’ve even experimented it with your organization. If so, you probably know that creating content in order to drive lead generation and sales is not effortless.

It takes time, creativity, research, money, and the ability to measure your results, just like any other marketing approach.

Nevertheless, 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers are relying on content marketing according to a research published this year by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by Brightcove.

What is content marketing and why it’s such a big deal?

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing is an excellent way to build your own audience. When your brand shares valuable content, people are more likely to trust it. And trust is like a magic glue that makes your audience stick with you.

Are blogs worth for content marketing?

The same research mentioned above, states that 79% of marketers use blogs to distribute their content — and, even more importantly, 60% of the most successful marketers think that a blog is one of the most effective formats.

When it comes to blogging, there is no CMS like WordPress. But, even if WordPress simplifies a lot the editing and publishing process, you still need to organize, optimize, distribute, and promote your content through different channels to reach your audience.

Here is why we decided to ask a few questions to Ruth Raventós, who created two WordPress plugins to make content marketing easier and is truly devoted to this approach.

A chat with Ruth Raventos, co-founder at Nelio Software

You are one of the co-founders of Nelio Software and a Ph.D. in Software Engineering. Talk me about your background: how did you find yourself interested in content marketing?

Ruth Raventos - Co-founder at Nelio Software

Ruth Raventos – Co-founder at Nelio Software

After finishing my degree I started working as a software developer. But I was attracted to the academic world, so I did my Ph.D. and became a teacher and researcher of topics related to information systems development.

However, I like challenges and in 2013 my partners, David Aguilera, Antonio Villegas, and I chose to leave the comfort of a good stable job and build our own startup, Nelio Software. We didn’t have a concrete project in mind yet, just a vague idea of creating a scalable service. What service? How would we do it? We didn’t know, but we were super thrilled about running our own business… so, who cares, right?

In the end, we decided we would work within the WordPress ecosystem and would develop plugins. We started brainstorming a lot of alternatives related to WordPress. In the end, we came up with two different projects that shared one vision: making WordPress sites more impactful

And from there, our interest in content marketing came naturally.

Your company developed two different plugins for WordPress, Nelio Content, and Nelio A/B Testing. What needs are you trying to solve for your customers?

Nelio Content features an editorial calendar and a content assistant. It has been designed to help you to efficiently create, schedule, and promote the content of your blog by automatically creating social publications on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. Focus on the content that works best with its built-in analytics, and run a successful blog while saving tons of time.

Nelio A/B Testing is a powerful and versatile conversion optimization service for WordPress. It helps you define, manage, and keep track of A/B-testing experiments, combined with powerful and beautiful heatmaps.

With Nelio A/B Testing you can create alternatives to titles, featured images and excerpts without the help of designers and developers. Nelio A/B Testing will tell you which ones keep traffic on your site.

How did you understand that there was room for your plugins within the WordPress environment and market?  

The idea of plugins came from our own needs as web owners. We had a clear idea of what we wanted for ourselves. From there, we made an in-depth analysis of the plugins and other similar tools that existed in the market and their popularity. It seemed to us that there was a market and, at the same time, they could be improved in many ways to have a much greater impact. And that’s it; we started with the development of an MVP for each one.

Talking about WordPress, you are part of the organization of the upcoming WordCamp Barcelona. Why do you think it’s crucial for the community to stick together?

Being part of this community has been critical to our success. It allows you to meet other interesting product developers, with whom to share your experience. An open source community is a great place to learn new things and grow as a professional, especially when you’re getting started and you don’t know exactly where you’re headed.

As you progress and become a better professional, you can’t help giving something back. Our first contact with the community was like everybody else’s — we attended a few meetups, talk to the organizers, met people… but as soon as we felt more confident and identified we too had a story to tell, we quickly got involved with the organization. Keep in mind these communities are volunteer-driven, so it’s very important that everybody who can and cares gets involved!

You often write content on your blog… do you ever struggle with SEO?

I’ve always been surprised at how many people present themselves as SEO experts. For us, the only formula that has worked so far is to improve our positioning in a totally organic way thanks to the regularity and constancy of the post published in our blog and their automatic promotion in social networks with Nelio Content…

But yes, SEO is anything but easy. So far, we’ve been focused on following the best practices everybody talks about (links, tags, keyword management, and so on) and we’ve recently integrated your plugin, WordLift, to our content marketing strategy, hoping it’ll help us rank even better.

Do you think content organization can make a substantial difference in engaging your readers and, at the end of the day, converting them into customers?

For us, it has been key. Our experience is that with no advertising budget, but with great planning in creating content and seeing what is working best for us on our website, we have been able to create our current business. In fact, the use of our two products has helped us grow and make a difference.

If you had to sum up your experience in content marketing in three tips, what would they be?

Content marketing is based on the generation and promotion of content. Therefore, the creation of a blog is the starting point for any online communication strategy of any professional or company. A blog with quality content helps you improve the visibility of your brand, it is the key factor to generate leads and, of course, the best way to improve your SEO. However, from our experience, a blog requires a lot of sacrifice and perseverance. Therefore, my recommendation to make this trip more bearable would be:

First, have a topic that you’re passionate about.

This way, it’ll be easier for you to write quality content. You’d better like what you write about or you’ll soon leave it aside. 

Second, be consistent.

You may not be the best writer in the world or you may not always choose the best topics possible, but if you persevere and, whatever happens, continue to publish content, you’ll eventually get better than most.

Finally, be as much as efficient as possible in the entire content generation process and its promotion.

Automate as many tasks as you can and don’t waste time doing work that doesn’t give you value. Tools like WordLift or Nelio Content will help you to save a ton of time.

Talking with Ruth has been really inspiring and I’m sure you’ll find much interesting content on Nelio blog too, check it out!

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