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story

Does your business understand the power of a story?

story

It’s a Sunday afternoon and rain is lashing against your window. Inside your warm, cosy home, you’re curled up on the sofa. You’re lost in a story, a book that you simply cannot put down.

Or, you may be watching an amazing film which is so gripping that you just can’t pause it and put the kettle on.

Yesterday, a Danny Boyle film about a singer/songwriter who becomes one of a handful of people in the world who can remember the Beatles, connects with us because we understand his story of struggle and persistence, we all have the shared experience of knowing and loving the Beatles songs in the film, and we share a gasp-out-loud moment with the main character. (No spoilers here for those who haven’t seen it!)

Many of us went to the cinema and felt the hour and 57 minutes it took to screen it flew by.

We were totally engaged with the film.

You’re experiencing a story as if you’re inside it.

The best stories are those which resonate with our experience.

We identify with characters who persevere against the odds, with situations we’ve experienced ourselves, and with the hopes and dreams we share with those characters.

We react with empathy and look for connections.

The Harry Potter books and films have created generations of fans because of that emotional connection they feel to the main characters such as Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and Hagrid.

They feel righteous anger when Hermione is tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, fear for their heroes when they enter the Ministry of Magic in disguise, and they root for Harry in his battle with Voldemort.

We become lost in a magical world.

Have you ever listened to someone’s story intently and been captivated by it?

As you stand there in front of the storyteller, your brains are synching.

Neuroscientists have researched this phenomenon. They carried out MRIs on listener and storyteller and found their brains lit up in the same way.

Your brain is reacting as if you are experiencing that story yourself and you feel connected.

Think how often the best stand-up comedians such as Sarah Millican, Stewart Lee, Dave Allen, and Joan Rivers have used stories as the basis for their comedy.

Stories have power.

The empathy stories create helps businesses reach potential clients or customers.

It also helps clients along their decision-making process.

Most people don’t just buy using logic and data. They use emotions to make that purchasing decision, so it’s important to create an emotional connection.

How can I use stories to connect with my customers?

  1. Use your website’s About Us page – Telling your story as a business helps clients connect with your purpose. People often need to know why you do what you do before they will commit to spending money. Tell them about your story, your values, and your goals. Replicate it for print products such as brochures or flyers.
  2. Share case studies – How did you help a customer through a difficult situation? How did you ensure a successful outcome? What challenges did you face?
  3. Share reviews or testimonials – These can often act as mini-stories to show how you solved a client’s problem. They are most powerful when the people leaving reviews are willing to be identified and when reviews are left on independent sites.
  4. Your networking pitch – Use stories to connect with potential clients or collaborators in your networking pitches, from the usual 60-second pitch to the longer five or ten-minute presentation.
  5. Your business book – If you tell your story in your business book, your readers will connect with your insights.
  6. Get your employees on board – Make them the purveyors of your story, the best advocates and story-tellers you could have. Listen to Anita Roddick, the late, great founder of The Body Shop: “The lesson of preindustrial societies is storytelling. All our employees should be storytellers.”

Do you need help telling your story? Contact us for advice and support.

blog post

How do I find ideas for my next blog post?

 

blog post

You want to write a blog post but that cursor just keeps blinking on a blank screen…

Every idea you had an hour ago seems to have evaporated…We know the feeling!

You’re in a blog post panic and you don’t know where to turn.

Fear not! We have nine useful ideas for getting that all-important inspiration – and we’re sharing them with you.

Where can I get ideas for my blog post?

  1. Ask Dr Google….

Google’s auto-complete is a hugely useful way of finding the questions people are asking the search engine.

Why not start a question relevant to your sector and let Google complete it?

Then, you have a blog post title which is already being searched for, and an idea for subject matter which is relevant to the people you’d like to attract to your website.

  1. Catch up with the news

Read news websites and watch TV news and current affairs programmes for inspiration.

That will give you timely ideas for your posts.

For example, a law firm could look at the use of ‘gagging clauses’ in non-disclosure orders, a hot topic in the wake of the Me Too movement. A cyber security business could look at the use of gated forums and invitation-only online groups by cyber thieves.

  1. Use case studies

What are the problems your ideal clients face and how do you solve them?

How could you show that in a blog post?

The obvious way is to simply say it. They way in which you connect with your clients best is to SHOW it by telling the stories of your case studies.

That allows them to see first-hand what you can do for people like them or businesses like theirs.

  1. Do a little snooping…

What are your competitors talking about?

Compile a list of those subjects and approach them in your own way. Use those subjects a few months down the line.

Whatever you do, don’t simply copy the ideas and structure of your competitors’ blog posts.

Not only will it look obvious, it could land you with a costly copyright infringement.

  1. Use an online blog topic generator

Here are eight suggestions for generators to use. You type in a word relevant to your business and it comes up with ideas for you. Flesh those ideas out yourself and expand on them.

  1. Look at what’s trending on social media

You can use online tools such as Buzzsumo, or do your own research on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

If you sign up for our monthly updates (no spam, we hate it!), you’ll get our free guide to the best 7 online social listening tools. Sign up here.

  1. Draw up a content calendar

Using seasons, holidays, awareness days, and major cultural and sporting events can help you get inspired.

If you run a restaurant, how about 7 of our meals to show your dad some love this Father’s Day?

Or, What’s the best way to fill up before watching the Rugby World Cup?

  1. Ask your clients

Ask them what they’d like to see on your blog. You can do this in an email, on social media, or by creating an online poll.

  1. Call in a professional

We would say that, wouldn’t we? However, it’s a great way to get your blog fizzing with creativity and outsourcing your content creation is a great option to save you time along with getting two heads, rather than one!

Need more advice? You can get in touch here. We love talking content, writing, coffee, and vintage typewriters!

 

ideal customers

How can I speak to my ideal customers online? Here’s how you find Mr or Ms Right…

ideal customers

Find your ideal customers

Sometimes, we feel like there’s a deluge of information on the internet. It can be off-putting, confusing, and so difficult to find our ideal customers.

There’s so much content out there right now. The thing you have to remember is that most of it isn’t useful to your target audience.

You need to be different and to speak directly to them.

That’s why you need to find your Mr and Ms Right.

Building a profile of your ideal customer/s is the starting point.

It all starts with data.

ideal customers

Get your head around your data…

Your data will show you who is buying your products or services, and who is interacting with your social media posts. That’s not to say all of them are your ideal customers, but it must be your starting point.

Here are your sources of data:

Google Analytics – If you haven’t got this activated on your website, activate it now. It’s still the gold standard when it comes to seeing website visitor numbers and the levels of engagement. Its demographics function also gives you a great deal of information about your website visitors.

Twitter Analytics – Twitter gives you a great deal of information about those who view and interact with your posts. It tells you what interests your followers (business, news, sport, comedy), the age range and gender breakdown, what sort of devices they use, and even which mobile phone/broadband service they use. Twitter has shown me that a growing number of people are viewing my tweets via iPhones and iPads, and Android phones, continuing the trend towards mobile.

Facebook and other social media – Facebook can show you a great deal about those who engage with your posts including locality, age range, friendship networks, interests (via your followers’ likes), and other social media you use regularly can also give you good insights into who is interacting with you.

Your sales records – It’s amazing how many people overlook this. Your own records have great insights into who is buying your products or services, and how they are using them. It’s an excellent starting point. If you don’t know how old they are, what brought them to you, etc, why not consider a customer questionnaire to help you improve your service?

So, what do you do next?

Take a few days to plough through all of this information. Pick out the age range, gender balance, locality, their interests, where they ‘hang out’ on social media, whether they are professionals.

Now, you have a basic profile and you should know whether you are targeting women in their 40s or professional 20-somethings.

Most people would stop there. Don’t. Your ideal customer profile has to be very detailed. If you’d like to learn how to do that, why not book onto one of our courses?

From all of this data and information you’ve gathered, you should now have a feel for where you’re going with your profile. At some point, the data has to be supplemented by your intuition about those who will buy from your business, and why.

How will your target audience find you on the web?

What kind of keywords could you use? There are a number of keyword finder tools – both paid for and free – which you could use in your research. They include:

http://keywordtool.io/

http://www.wordstream.com/keyword-tools

http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/search/

http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/

http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html

http://ubersuggest.org/

http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster/

Need help with blogging for your business? Email maria@wordsyoucanuse.co.uk. Check out what my company does here