Every time you communicate with your customers, you’re telling them a story.
The problem is, you might not always be telling them a good story.
A good story is one that has a clear message. It communicates that message in a way that’s punchy and engaging. It gives the audience real value.
If you’ve ever seen a marketing campaign that really grabbed you, that’s why. It’s because it used words and visuals to tell the right kind of story – and tell it well.
Now, think about the ways you reach out to prospective customers. Are you telling a good story, or are you just giving them facts and letting them piece it all together?
Many Built World companies want their product to speak for itself. But it doesn’t. No matter how great a product is, it can’t tell a compelling story on its own.
Built World sales people can also be impatient. They start with the facts and figures about why their product is better before the customer is interested. Starting with a good story is a great way to get the customer interested.
When you tell them a good story, they should say, “That just makes sense. Tell me more about your product.”
If you can tell a better story about your product and your company, you will gain more interest and grow your sales. But again, you can’t just tell any story. It has to resonate with your customers. So, let’s look at what it takes to create the right kind of story that will hel[p your company be more successful.
Storytelling is a powerful sales tool and marketing tool for two reasons.
First of all, it’s compelling. It can grab a customer’s attention and hold it for as long as it takes to get the message through.
It’s why so many of the people who used to fall asleep during college lectures now spend their lunch breaks watching Ted Talks. A good Ted Talk is a masterclass in storytelling while your average college lecture is, well, just a class.
When you tell a good story, you don’t have to work nearly as hard to keep the customer interested. You’re not just talking to the customer – you’re connecting with them. Because of that, they won’t be tempted to click away from your site or watch the clock while listening to your sales pitch.
But more importantly, storytelling is how customers start seeing you as more than just a Built World company.
A good story will change the way they look at your product. It’s no longer just a Built World product, it’s a solution to a difficult problem. It’s no longer something they need to order so they can do their job, it’s a step in becoming more successful.
It changes the way they look at your company, too. You’re not just a Built World company. You’re also someone who’s in their corner. You’re the expert they can rely on when they have a difficult challenge to overcome. You’re the innovator that will help them outpace their competition.
Those are all things that can differentiate you from the competition. They’re all ways to position yourself in a unique way. They’re all strong signals of the value you can bring to your customers.
And they can all be achieved by crafting a good story.
Identify Your Audience
Gifted storytellers don’t just know how to put together a narrative. They’re also skilled at reading the crowd.
In your case, the crowd will be your customers. More specifically, the customers you want to reach the most.
Once you know who you’re trying to reach, the next step is to figure out where their attention is going to be.
One type of customer might respond really well to flashy visual content. Another will prefer detailed guides that will walk them through some tough decisions.
Find out where their attention is and make sure your story is being told there.
After narrowing down the type of customer you’re trying to reach, you can start crafting a story that really speaks to them.
Your visuals should feel familiar to them. If you’re using a photo of a jobsite, it should look like their jobsite. If you include a photo of a building in your marketing materials, it should be the kind of buildings they specialize in.
That might sound like a small detail, but it can have a significant impact. Seeing a residential building on your marketing materials immediately tells anyone working on commercial projects that your message isn’t relevant to them or worth their time. So, make sure you get it right.
That also applies to any written content you create. Your blog posts should have anecdotes and examples to make the writing more engaging, but using the wrong ones will make you seem out of touch. Every small detail in the writing should reflect the kind of work your customers do and challenges they face. When they read those examples, they should think “this company really gets it.”
Before working on any marketing or sales materials, take the time to really understand your customer’s world. What kind of fires do they keep having to put out? What is the one problem they just can’t seem to crack? What frustrating situation do they keep running into?
If you’re not speaking to those things, you’re not really speaking to your customers. And that means they won’t feel the need to pay attention to what you have to say.
“Show, don’t tell” is a basic principle of storytelling – and for good reason.
You can tell your customers all sorts of nice things about your product, like:
All great things, but there’s just one problem. Telling your customer those things doesn’t show them why it should matter to them.
Now let’s try showing the value and see what a difference it makes.
Good storytelling shows your customer the outcome of using your product. It doesn’t just list benefits, it helps them visualize how much easier their lives will be if they buy from you. It gives them a reason to care about your product instead of just telling them they should. That’s much more likely to get through to them.
Good storytelling is creative, but that doesn’t mean you should come up with everything out of the thin blue air. You’ll be able to tell a better story if you gather material to work with first.
Do some research on companies that are doing new and interesting things. Interview some of your customers about their challenges and what they’ve done to overcome them. Send out a survey about your product category to see what people feel about their current solutions.
If you do that, you’ll have plenty of real, on-the-ground anecdotes, stories and facts that you can work into your marketing and sales materials. And that will make them feel more authentic and relevant.
It also gives you a simple and effective way to show the value of your product. Real stories of challenges you helped solve will be more convincing than almost any sales pitch could be.
Like I said above, you need to make your stories relevant to your customer type. That means you’ll need different stories for different types of customers.
Even if you use the same message across customers, you should be ready to present it in different ways.
Let’s say you have an energy-efficient product. That is going to mean different things for different customers. For a homeowner, it means lower utility bills. For the developer, it’s a step to getting their building LEED certified. For the architect, it’s about upholding their firm’s commitment to environmentally sustainable design.
You don’t have a single type of customer, so you shouldn’t rely on a single story. Make sure you have one for each audience you’re trying to reach.
You’ll also want to reach customers in different places. Depending on your marketing strategy, htat might include anything from print ads and blog posts to YouTube videos and TikTok content.
So, don’t just tell your story once. Tell the same story in different ways and on different platforms.
You’ll have to tweak it to make it fit – telling a story on Tiktok isn’t quite the same as telling it on your website’s homepage. But it’s worth the trouble because the more often a customer encounters your story, the more it’s going to stick.
So, keep finding new ways to tell it. That way, your customers are more likely to remember it – and act on it.
Storytelling is more of an art than a science. And like any art, it’s difficult to quantify it.
Unfortunately, many companies use that as an excuse to play fast and loose with their marketing metrics. Because it’s hard to put numbers to storytelling, they’ll measure the success of a marketing campaign in really subjective ways like “the visuals were very creative” or “the CEO liked it.”
Yes, storytelling is an art. But it’s an art that can get results – and you can measure those results.
Always have a system in place to track the effectiveness of your marketing materials:
If you’re not seeing the kinds of results you were hoping for, fine-tune your storytelling. Look for the weak spots in your story and find a different way to tell it.
Whenever a customer looks at your site, speaks to a sales rep, checks out your product page, or even sees your packaging, they’re being told a story about your product.
It’s up to you to tell them a good one.
Your product features might be what helps your customer achieve their goals. Your superior customer service might be what earns their loyalty. But it’s the story you’re telling that will catch their attention in the first place.
So, take the time to develop it. Make sure your marketing doesn’t just have a message, but has one that’s clear and speaks directly to the customer. Help customers visualize your product as the solution to their problems.
That’s how you grab their attention – and that’s the first step to earning their business and growing your sales.