What’s Your Story? (And How Are You Telling It?)

It’s nearly Christmas. And that means marketers have gone into overdrive to attract your custom. Whether it’s buying the biggest turkey from Sainsbury’s. Or the perfect Christmas gifts from John Lewis. Companies want your business.


But with so much noise out there, and more channels than ever to communicate on, how do you make sure your brand gets heard?


There has been a lot written about storytelling and what it can do for your marketing efforts. You only have to look at the latest slew of Christmas adverts to see storytelling is alive and well.


You’ve got Marks and Spencer telling the story of Mrs Claus. Highlighting an often overlooked figure and truly bringing her to life. And then you’ve got John Lewis and Buster the Boxer, the star of their campaign.


It’s all well and good telling fabricated stories for the purposes of a Christmas advertising campaign. But what about your brand’s story?


Being able to effectively communicate where you come from and what you do differently is becoming ever more important.


Let’s take the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an example. Research by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) found that 81 per cent of millennials expect businesses to publicly commit to good corporate citizenship.


It’s not enough to just do good deeds behind the scenes. You need to shout about them. Tell your story.


Millennials may not be the only target market out there. But they are a sizeable one. There are 80 million of them in the USA alone. And with 92 per cent saying they’re more likely to purchase from an ethical company, that’s a big opportunity.


But people need to know that you engage with CSR. And more importantly they need to believe you.


This millennial generation desires authenticity. They have cash to splash but they want to spend it with brands they trust. Brands that do some good. Brands that have a story they can relate to and that tell it well.


Matthew Tyson summed it up when writing in the Huffington Post at the start of this year. “Millennials need to know you before they’ll trust you. They want transparency,” he stated.


That transparency doesn’t just translate to business practices. It spans company origins and ethos. It’s about telling a story people can relate to. Not relying on the recognition of a faceless corporate brand to sell products.


You need to tell your business’s story if you want to succeed in modern-day marketing. If you don’t know how, make use of specialists who do. Copywriters can help you bring your brand’s story to life. And creating engagement with your customers is vital. People want to be part of a conversation.


Tyson provides some advice for businesses on how to build this trust, with the key being honesty. Opening up about your company and what it stands for is just one part of it. He says millennials in particular want to know you care, not just about them but about your business and products. You need to show them why they matter.


And there are many ways you can do that. From video content to honest blog posts. Shared social media content to specific campaigns. There’s something to suit every brand. But you can’t limit your efforts to just one channel.


Research published this month by the Journal of Marketing found that, while social media channels have grown in importance, they are most effective when used alongside other channels.


Digital and traditional media marketing still have a role to play in the content mix. The researchers noted that their study “suggests a synergistic relationship between social and other media used for marketing communications – television and emails”.


When you’re thinking about your story and how to tell it, you need to consider all these factors. Firstly, what is your story? How do you want people to perceive your business? And what do you want to be remembered for?


Consider your main target market – what’s the most effective way to reach them initially? And how can you reinforce that brand story across all channels?


You can write a wonderful blog post about your brand, but if no one reads it, it’s useless. Share it on social media. Send it to interested customers through your newsletter. Repurpose it, or elements of it, in other forms like video. And ask your customers to become part of that story.


Don’t be afraid of having that customer involvement. They want to be engaged by brands, not talked at. And think about how you feel personally about brand communications. You’re a consumer too.


What do you like about particular companies or brands? Are there lessons you can learn from them to help you tell your story?