How to Use Storytelling in Content Marketing to Connect With Customers

Contributed content / By Megan Wenzl / 4 March 2020

Businesses should use storytelling in their content to build trust and connect with customers. To do so, they should personalize their marketing, focus on their community, and be consistent.

Customers don’t have the time to sift through content that means nothing to them.

They want a real connection. They want stories.

Customers want the kind of stories that help and connect with them on a deeper level. Customers want stories that help solve their problems and provide value — stories that makes them feel something positive. And that kind of storytelling builds the most important part of any customer relationship — trust.

Most businesses publish content daily – but if you’re not telling a story, your content won’t connect with customers.

How Often Do Businesses Publish Content?

Storytelling is one of the best ways to build trust. Once customers feel an emotional connection to your content — and feel they can rely on you and your products or service — trust is easy to build. Because it’s real.

How to Use Storytelling to Connect With Customers

  1. Personalize your marketing
  2. Focus on community
  3. Be consistent

1. Personalize Your Marketing

Before you can start thinking about what to explore in the stories you tell, you need to know exactly who you are telling those stories to. Know your customer before you attempt to build a narrative they can relate to.

Good news: Today, companies have an almost overwhelming pool of customer data at their fingertips.

Every individual customer has their own story. Although it's an imperfect measure, you can attempt to grasp that story by examining the trends and behaviors that set them apart from others when they interact with your brand.

Instead of targeting the segment, target the individual. One of the biggest obstacles for any marketer is the barrier that separates them from each customer.

If you rely on the simple grouping of these customers into segments, that barrier gets even larger and takes marketing further away from its root: interactions with people.

It's easy to think that this begins and ends with including your customer's name in a message, but there’s more to personalized marketing.

In order to master a personalized approach to marketing, you need to familiarize yourself with each customer's pain points. These pain points will help inform you of their motivation behind how they interact with your brand.

One way to understand your individual customers is to learn from every single customer touchpoint. For example, one of those touchpoints is online. Social media and online reviews provide feedback about your brand from current or potential customers. You can use this information to inform the needs and expectations of your customers.

This might sound like a lot, but there are some very clear ways you can personalize marketing.

2. Focus on Community

Once you have a good understanding of who your customers are, the best thing you can do is to make them feel like they are part of something.

Yes, although personalization is key to singling your customers out, the impact of a story can lose its effect if it can't be tied to something bigger.

A good story grabs a customer's attention and makes them think. A great story inspires action.

While the whole "go out and make a change" narrative could seem like an outdated idea, it maintains positive associations with your brand. It's one thing when customers connect with your brand, but it's even better when customers connect with other customers because of a story your brand told them.

For example, outdoor recreation company REI has a community called Conversations.

REI Conversations

The community is for people who love the outdoors to connect with each other. Users ask questions to the community about things related to the outdoors, such as where to go camping near the Chicago area. Then locals respond with some ideas — everyone helps each other.

Not only does this inspire action in customers, but it also tells a story by allowing customers to interact with other people who are just like them. Already united by interaction with the brand, it's easy for people to get involved in the online community. This will help them feel included in something bigger.

3. Be Consistent

There is nothing worse in a marketing campaign than mixed messages and stories that fall apart. To steer clear of this potential headache, you need to zero-in on one thing: consistency.

Why is consistency so important? Storytelling only works if your brand stands for something. If two messages undermine each other or there's a notable dip in quality and engagement in something you put out there, your brand's reputation is at stake. The better you get at connecting with customers, the more you have to lose.

There's an anecdote to this all-too-prevalent issue: focus. If you can stay focused and unite your messaging under a clearly defined mission, you can succeed.

This not only means you need to have a mission that informs everything you do but that everyone involved in your company, across all departments, is aware of that mission.

This can only happen from the bottom-up. Every single person who works at your company needs to know the purpose behind everything they do, consciously sticking to values in order to see the best results. Otherwise, you risk losing all consumer trust.

Authenticity Starts With You

Brand storytelling can never be forced. There's an obligation to keep up with content creation quotas, sure. But once you start saying things just to say them so you can keep publishing blog articles every day, that’s a problem.

Every message you offer to your customers has to mean something to you — and to them. Not only will this authenticity shine through, but it also will ensure that you build a customer base you can level with, one you can understand, and one who trusts you to give them what they want.

If you read one section from this article…

Brands should tell stories that reflect who they are and what their customers want or need. If you can tell consistent stories while empowering customers to be part of something bigger, customer trust will come. And customer trust in a brand is one of the factors that makes a successful business.

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