The subtle art of showing versus telling

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using your content marketing to boast about your company’s accomplishments, but this strategy may not endear you to your customers. Demonstrating your successes through stories is a subtle but highly effective way to earn customer kudos.

With so many platforms available, companies can have truly dynamic relationships with their customers these days, revealing what makes them tick behind the scenes or when the day is done. It’s about developing a human-human relationship out of the company-customer dynamic, and one of the best ways to do this is through telling stories about the way your company goes about doing things. ‘Brand’ has come to mean so much more than a logo, a mission statement or a vision (although these are all important); it is the personality of your business. It’s all the characteristics that combine to make your company unique.

Barely two decades ago, company-customer interaction was limited to TV and radio ads, newspapers and magazines. Through the myriad of media we have now, this interaction has become much more familiar – customers and companies can get to know each other better, and customers are more knowledgeable and savvy and than ever before. Rather than listing awards or using superfluous words that aren’t tangible to promote your business (anything from ‘exclusive’ and ‘trustworthy’ to ‘thought leaders’ or ‘award winners’), it’s way more effective to tell true stories that allow customers to deduce these attributes for themselves. It’s well known that big global enterprises like the Virgin Group, Tesla and Microsoft have vested interests beyond their actual – and hugely successful – businesses. Philanthropy might seem to go hand-in-hand with such large corporations, but the bottom line is that we connect with initiatives that explore sustainable energy, develop education outreach programmes, and fund disease prevention, to name a handful. It endears them to us, makes them likeable, transparent and trustworthy.

Revealing your brand
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said: ‘If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.’ Instead of listing what your values are, write articles, upload social media posts and create videos that showcase these values. Demonstrate your company’s thought leadership attributes by regulalrly writing articles in industry publications or creating a bank of this content on your website, optimised to reach the intended audience and grow your search rankings. You can exploit your company profile for the purposes of telling stories about members of staff, how long they have been there, what their outside interests are and what they bring to the company. Formal staff incentives, like profit-share schemes, can be celebrated on dedicated sections of a mailer or in a company news section on your site. These are also good places to showcase staff service awards or initiatives your company is involved in, for instance walking shelter dogs, organising beach clean-ups or participating in Habitat for Humanity builds. Revealing your company culture is more important than ever as consumers want authenticity.

Perhaps you have a story to tell about how your company is a dream come true for you. Write a blog post about it, share the dream and the success. Extend your stories to your customers by featuring winners of any competitions you’ve had in mailers or online. Tell the stories behind new or popular products and the customers who use them. Showing loyalty builds more of the same among potential customers.

Being able to tell a good story is a skill. Specialised content agencies can help you discover the stories your customers want to hear about your brand and your company. Get in touch for help with telling your business’ story.

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