If a picture is worth a thousand words, then life is a thousand stories. Your family's business is not just a series of balance sheets and key performance indicators. Rather, the customer's experience with your family brand is an extension of your company's story. For a family business, that story can be and is inherently personal.
Family businesses can leverage content marketing storytelling to create a distinct advantage in the marketplace that leads to a deeper, engaged community of customers and company advocates.
What is Content Marketing Storytelling
Content marketing, according to Deloitte, is defined as building support through a clear purpose and strategy. It is simply not enough to define the process as the need to create more content, rather content marketing is part of the overall business's integrated marketing and brand strategy. This process is best approached by viewing your company's brand through the lens of personal branding as a business strategy.
Consumers are seeking more authentic relationships in both Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer environments. According to Steve Jobs, author of "My Brand Is Bigger Than Your Brand,” the personal positioning of your branded content can be summarized in two words. In personal branding that may be the combination of your personal and professional personas, such as a surgeon who also happens to have an engaging sense of humor. The combination of the two adds an approachable experience based on the person's personality to their profession - surgery.
According to Simon Sinek, we do not relate to brands because of what they do, but rather why they do it. This is simply personal branding for business. Human's align themselves with others they feel morally agree with their belief system. Companies are no different.
Content marketing storytelling is simply the humanization of the corporate brand through stories. In fact, people remember stories 22x more than facts and figures alone, and thus storytelling can boost conversion rates by a significant 30%. Brand storytelling evokes an emotional response. In fact, 92% of consumers want ads that feel like stories.
Business storytelling helps brands foster interactions between their content producers, the overall brand, and their brand communities. The flexibility of storytelling makes it a powerful marketing tool for a family business. Most companies spend countless hours evolving their brand story, striving to humanize what was first perceived as a market opportunity. Family businesses are inherently infused with the family story. This advantage when leveraged correctly can humanize the family brand to its customer community and target market.
Content Marketing as Part of an Integrated Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is just a part of the company's overall integrated marketing strategy. Content marketing strategy encompasses not just the story, but how the story is told, and through what media and marketing tasks, including:
- Social Media Marketing Strategy
- Visual Content Marketing
- Guest Blogging Strategy
- Long-form Stories
- Brand Storytelling
- Mobile Marketing
- Branded Content
- Quality Blog Content and Blog Posts
- Inbound Marketing including landing pages and email marketing
- Repurposing Content
- Long-Term Content Strategy
While content marketing strategy is only part of your overall business strategy, it is a vital business function that is often overlooked. According to Hubspot, understanding how specific marketing tasks integrate with one another is extremely important, but 70% of marketers lack an integrated marketing strategy as part of their digital marketing efforts.
Content marketing efforts begin with a strong understanding of the target audience. Ensuring that all corporate communications share with existing and potential customers content that evokes an emotional connection through a compelling story is vital to achieving a consistent customer experience with brand-based storytelling. When combined with an integrated marketing strategy, not only are these communications consistent, but potential customers within the brand's target audience organically connect through best inbound marketing practices including search engines and landing pages.
What Are the Elements of Storytelling
Corporate storytelling is no different than sharing a personal story. Our culture has leveraged stories to pass down generational truths and teach valuable lessons. Stories engage and capture the attention of the listener. The power of narratives in business storytelling creates lift in all areas of a business. At their best, stories are conversations. A study conducted by Forrester Research found that 88% of executives and organizational decision-makers long to have conversations, not pushy sales presentations.
The elements of an effective corporate storytelling strategy include:
- The protagonist
- The challenge
- The solution
- The outcome
The protagonist is best described as the company's potential customers or target audience. The most effective storytelling positions your potential customer as the hero of your brand's compelling story. Storytelling success stories provide an easy place to start your content marketing strategy. Generating content ideas can also include visual marketing-based storytelling such as testimonial videos, podcast interviews, or infographics.
A long-form story will then describe your potential customer's challenge faced as part of your content creation framework. As it relates to their buyer's journey, this is the pain point your target market is looking to solve during the discovery and research phases.
If your piece is branded content, the blog post or other visual storytelling will present a solution as part of your content marketing campaign. At the end of the buyer's journey, you may want to leverage a sales tool in your content that positions your direct offering as the solution. If the branded content is considered part of a larger nurturing digital marketing campaign, the solution will not be a sales tool offer positioned on a landing page, rather it will lead to the softer middle-of-the-funnel offers, such as a branded content ebook or long-form content offer.
The outcome celebrates the success of the protagonist, your potential customer, overcoming and achieving a victory. This can be presented to your target audience as a testimonial through visual storytelling tools or through a compelling narrative that helps establish an emotional connection between the story and your potential customers.
Not all of your content marketing efforts will include every aspect of this content creation framework. Long-form stories focus on the entire storytelling arc, but your long-term content strategy can focus pieces on each stage of the protagonists' journey.
Keep Your Story Authentic
Corporate storytelling must not feel contrived or even easily identifiable as advertising business. The stories shared must be based on real experience. Potential customers are looking for more than features and benefits; they need to understand why your product or service has made a measurable, impactful difference. Business marketing efforts often overlook the importance of sharing their customer's stories and instead focus on features and facts.
As we follow our hero, your customer, through your content marketing campaign, the target audience can relate to the human element shared through your brand personality. Impactful storytelling focuses on real people to create a compelling story and emotional connection between your company and your potential customer.
When your content marketing campaign leverages storytelling, and shares your family's story, the result is a unique positioning. Your products and services have unique features and benefits, but a well-executed storytelling campaign can distinguish your positioning from your competitors and provide a unique selling point. Loyal customers relate to your story and established brand values creating a community of buyers. Consider sharing your family's story and brand values candidly through blog content, visual storytelling, long-form stories, and your social media marketing strategy. Digital marketing outlets share more immediate news, while more formal publications, such as a press release or annual report, set a tone for your overall brand values.
While storytelling infuses a human element, great storytelling awakens empathy and increases brand awareness. An emotional connection with your brand's audience elicits a response leading to more connectivity and conversion through your marketing including high engagement rates in your email list and landing page calls to action.
Simply saying "buy this widget because it has more features and benefits on the market, and is the best price" doesn't evoke an emotional response. However, sharing the story of your family’s mission and why you’re in business promotes not a sales call to action, but rather alignment around the problem your business solves for others. Your business isn't leveraging sales tools to convince your audience to buy your products or services; instead, by sharing great stories the business is connecting real people with your brand, sharing an experience, and leaving the decision with the buyer. Your buyers feel empowered that they made a choice, not guilty or abused for feeling subject to a sales pitch.
How to Master Business Storytelling
Consider storytelling as the cornerstone of your content marketing campaign. Leverage existing stories within your organization for generating content ideas. Leading with a storytelling campaign instead of features and benefits helps potential customers understand the essence of your brand culture and connect with your family brand through authentic conversation. Let your customers see themselves as the hero in their own story, that includes your brand.