When you’re marketing your small business, it’s tempting to dive right into your offer. Many entrepreneurs would prefer to put their work into the world and get more leads based on that alone. You’ve probably heard, though, that storytelling for marketing is key. Storytelling helps potential clients see themselves inside your offer and figure out whether they align with your brand. In this post, I lay out why storytelling for marketing matters and how you can create a strategy for your small business.
The Power of Storytelling for Marketing Your Small Business
Telling consistent, compelling stories helps your marketing on four levels: inviting engagement, attracting clients who align with your values, helping people see themselves inside your offer, and cultivating brand loyalty.
1. Inviting Engagement
Generally, folks don’t respond to social media posts and marketing that feel like straight up ads. They’re too impersonal. A funny situation, an inspiring moment, a life-changing realization, on the other hand, get stronger reactions. You don’t need to be a natural-born comedian either. The point is to create context and emotion.
2. Attracting Aligned Clients
In storytelling for marketing, you also have the opportunity to demonstrate your values. That attracts clients who are aligned with you. On our About page, we talk about our experiences with the lack of queer representation in the entrepreneur space. That resonates with other queer entrepreneurs and people with marginalized identities. They see their own experiences echoed in ours or, at the very least, feel that we have similar values.
3. Helping People See Themselves Inside Your Offer
Go beyond telling people what you do to showing them what it’s like to work with you. You can tell a client story and, in doing so, walk potential clients through your onboarding process. Even if someone else provides the exact same service as you, that alone can make the difference in driving leads.
4. Cultivating Brand Loyalty
A lot of entrepreneurs are so focused on constantly getting in front of new eyes. They focus on acquiring followers and growing their email list to the point that they forget to cultivate connections with the audience they already have. Storytelling for marketing is a powerful tool for cultivating brand loyalty. You can stay on people’s minds and remind them of all the reasons they loved working with you in the first place.
As you decide what stories you’re going to tell in your marketing, remember that transparency and truth are critical in ethical marketing. There are a lot of big fish stories in the business world. You don’t need to stretch the truth to attract people to your brand.
Developing Your Unique Storytelling Strategy
So where do you start with storytelling for marketing? You have to figure out the core narrative for your brand. It starts with your why. Why do you do what you do? What propelled you into this industry? This iteration of your brand?
Ultimately, there will probably be details that you never share in your marketing. Some may be too personal. That’s OK. What matters is that you narrow in on the narrative details that interest your ideal client. Your “why” is about you, but it’s also about how you can solve clients’ problems. Say you’re a photographer. Would your ideal client care that your business gives you a more flexible schedule to take care of your family? Maybe or maybe not. They might be more interested in how you’re passionate about preserving people’s memories with your art.
You won’t tell the same stories in every piece of marketing either. That would exhaust you and your audience. Your brand story will take center stage on your website. In social media posts and email marketing, you’ll share insights related to your specific marketing goals. For example, when I want to book more website copywriting clients, I walk readers through the process of creating clients’ unique brand voices.
Crafting Magnetic Stories to Share in Your Marketing
The most magnetic storytelling for marketing is authentic to you and your personality. Your ideal marketing channels also depend entirely on your personality. You won’t be consistent with social media marketing, for example, if you hate creating the content. (If you’re curious which marketing channels make sense for your personality, take our quiz!)
Whichever marketing channels you choose, these three strategies will help you craft magnetic stories.
1. Center the emotion.
Storytelling works when you show potential clients the emotions at the heart of your brand’s story or the feelings that come with working with you. Is working with you fun? Easy? A relief? An indulgence they’ll be so thankful for? Use testimonials and client feedback to pick a few emotions to highlight in your marketing.
A word of caution here. Once you start paying attention to storytelling in conventional marketing, you’ll notice a few common tactics used to heighten an audience’s emotions. Pain points marketing essentially stirs up anxiety by emphasizing all the problems a client is having before presenting the brand’s offer as the perfect solution. You can center the emotion in your marketing without shaming people or potentially triggering trauma. Check out this post for two simple shifts you can make to avoid this trap.
2. Start with the hook.
Whether you’re marketing in your Instagram stories or to your email list, you need to grab your audience’s attention quickly. Start with a hook. This could be a question, an emotion, or even a physical detail. Here are a few examples of hooks:
- I couldn’t believe she said this.
- What if we actually have ___ all wrong?
- My whole body knew it was time for a change, and my gut told me – “Yes, this is it!”
The goal is to get people curious enough to keep reading or listening.
3. Clearly connect your story to your offer.
You can create a list of stories to return to again and again in your marketing. When you pick one, make sure it’s relevant to the offer at the heart of that particular campaign. For example, when we’re marketing our group program, Sales Off Social, we share parts of our brand story – building businesses that make space for our humanity, queer neurodivergence and all. When I’m marketing my SEO blogging services, I share case studies and client testimonials that bring humanity to the numbers.
Leveraging an Expert to Tell Your Story
Storytelling for marketing can make the difference between just listing your offers and helping people feel the difference you can make in their lives. You can cultivate engagement, share your values, show your process, and build brand loyalty. By bringing emotion and humanity into your marketing ethically, you can craft a more sustainable marketing strategy.
If you’ve made it this far, my guess is that you’re excited about the potential of storytelling for marketing your small business. There’s a lot of value in working with a copywriter to develop the foundations of your marketing. At Brandcendent, we specialize in trauma-informed marketing through SEO blogging, website copywriting, and email marketing. Learn how we can support you in standing out with compelling storytelling! Reach out to us here.