A Brand New Business Needs A Story That People Want To Believe
You’re under considerable pressure. Stories are for someone else, right? The reality is that your new business is forming a story, or narrative, that your market is experiencing as we speak. This is a part where different size and ages of businesses miss the mark and develop reputational hazards. We’ve all been on the other side too. You’ve read the signage, seen a brochure, visited a website, and probably not even been inside of a local business and thought, “I give it 6 months.” This is why a new business has to tell a good story that the market believes and holds onto.
Let’s start at the beginning. At the root of poor storytelling is often the writer’s confusion between what the product or service does, and why someone would need it. Our brains tend to orient toward what something does as we humans can be very practical and finite. True, intellectually it is what you offer that creates knowledge about your product or service to your prospective buyer. However, it is why that creates an emotional tie to your product or service, touching upon the value your product or service offering. Intellectual and emotional – the what and why your customers need you. You need to touch both in the buyer, and you should always lead with why.
But what makes a good small business marketing story when talking about your products or services?
Dissecting good sales and marketing stories on product or services will usually have six elements to a great story:
Stating the obvious is not always easy to do. To begin touching the emotional side of the buyer you should begin by aligning with them, which means to express their pain. Stating the problems that they may be having (that your product or service can fix) is a great way to do this. Use an example of a customer you’ve had in the past, or just state the most common problems to start telling your story. Also try to come across with empathy so that the reader feels like you are on their side.
The Real Need
The next part of your product or services story is to be explicit with what they “think” they need. Be careful here as you are not going to want to tell them that they need your product or service, but instead describe the needs that they may be thinking. Put yourself in their place with no knowledge about your product or service, and come up with what they would say as their needs to address their problems.
Desire or What Customers Want
Some stories include statements of what the customer desires, but this is not always necessary. Furthermore, some marketer’s get confused as to how desire is different from need, but they are very different yet the difference is subtle. If the customer’s needs are the practical side of what the customer thinks they need, their desires are what they really would like to have even if there appears to be no possible way to have it. For example, a customer may say they need stronger working liquid soap to clean dirty pots and pans, but what they desire is something that cleans the pots and pans for them (like a dishwasher.)
Probably the most important part of your story is to come across credible. Do to this, state the alternative approaches that appear to also solve the problems the customer is having. However, with each alternative solution also include their weaknesses or limitations. Sometimes the alternative is to “do nothing different” and of course the customer will just need to accept their problems. Or, they could use a competitive approach (without necessarily stating competitive names,) but then follow-up the approach up by stating their weaknesses. With 2 or 3 alternative approaches you usually can cover the field of options, which then leaves the reader looking for the one option left … yours.
Your Ultimate Solution
Now you have teed up to talk about your product or service. In a way, the first four parts of your story described why they need your product or service, so now you can tell them what it is. There are many ways to present but try to includes something unique that differentiates from the alternatives. Often the solution element of the story consists of 5 sentences:
a) state what it is
b) state the primary way it is used, and its value
c) summarize the general flaw of alternative solutions, and then state how your product solves this problem
d) state at least 1 unique way you’re different and better
e) make a summary statement ending with the primary product or service value
Lastly, conclude your story with the key benefits your product or service offers. Try to avoid the common mistake of stating features, but orient your benefit statements by testing them with the question, “is this what it does, or is it why you need it?” Another common mistake in writing benefit statements is that they are often too long. Try to keep these short such as 3 to 6 words. To do this, lead with an action verb that has value, such as “Higher,” “Faster,” “Better,” “Improved,” etc.
Telling your story is the first step to opening doors to new customers. So tell a great story that resonates with them both intellectually and emotionally. By connecting and aligning with their experience you will gain credibility and trust quickly, which is the first step along the path of closing the deal!