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Storytelling is one of marketing’s biggest buzzwords. Everyone is doing it, but not everyone is getting the response they hoped for. One of the main reasons storytelling fails to deliver promised results is because startups are focused on their own story rather than on the customer’s story. Sure, you need to tell your brand story. Customers want to know why you do what you do, what drives your culture, and how you ended up where you are. But telling your own story isn’t enough.
To do storytelling right, and to hook your customers into your story, you need to keep the focus on your customer.
Your customer is the hero of the story, not your company or your product.
Let’s look at three practical ways to make your customer the hero.
Picture your customer as the protagonist
Without a protagonist, you don’t have a story. One of the reasons stories are so compelling is that they include people. Humans connect with other humans. The copy on your website, the content on your blog, social media pages, and other marketing materials, all need to present your customer as a person on a mission to solve a problem or overcome a challenge.
Action Step: Place images of your customers and/or images that represent your customers throughout your marketing materials. Focus your message on the customer and the problem that she is trying to solve.
Explain what your protagonist wants and why
In a good story, you know exactly what the protagonist wants and why. Frodo and Sam need to destroy the One Ring so Middle Earth isn’t corrupted and destroyed. Harry Potter has to defeat Voldemort so evil will not become immortal. Show your customers that you understand the challenge they need to overcome and why it’s so important for them to overcome it. How will your product or service help them solve this problem?
Action Step: Include details of the challenge and struggle your customers face in your website copy, in case studies, and in testimonials. In your messaging, mention the consequences if the customer fails to overcome the challenge, thus, maintaining the status quo.
Present your company as the guide or your product as the tool to help
While your company isn’t the hero of the story, it does have an important role to play. Your company can serve as the guide that offers insight to the protagonist that helps her overcome her challenge. Your product can function as the tool that allows her to accomplish her mission. Frodo and Sam had Gandalf as a guide. Harry Potter had his patronus, which gave him power to overcome. Your customers have your company’s product and/or service.
Action Step: Show how customers are using your guidance or advice to beat their challenges. Show how they’re using your product to solve their problems. Create videos that feature customers explaining the role that your company played in their success.
These three steps will inject your customers into your stories. Customers will recognize themselves as the hero of the story, and they’ll be hooked into your narrative describing how your company or product can help them solve their challenges.