Storytelling, the New USP of Marketing
Updated: Jan 30
Marketers all know the time-honored USP as a brand's or product's unique selling proposition. While one's selling point is still important, it's becoming more evident that new methods of selling and promotion are needed to further differentiate your offerings in a crowded market full of noise from ads, social media platforms, and user-contributed content.
Increasingly the new shining star of brand promotion is really the story. But which story do you tell? There's a few angles to work here: the story of your customer or end-user. The story of your product or service. The story behind your brand. Most companies err by trying to make themselves or their product the story. According to Donald Miller, author of Building a Story Brand, this is a misguided approach because generally speaking, your (potential) customers don't care much about your story. Surprised?
I think Miller is in the minority here as there are many other stories you can find online that show the opposite is true. When done correctly, telling your brand story creates:
Connection is the time-tested element of reaching your customer through emotion; be it empathy, desire, status, etc. If you can reach people on some deep level (a need or problem), then you've created a connection with your customer that pulls them into your story. Now they want to know what you can do for them.
Information is your opportunity to explain why your gizmo or service will make their life better. Here's where you get to dive deeper into their pain points and connect your offering as the solution to their problem.
Engagement is where you snag the call-to-action. You've already connected with them, you explained that you understand their problem and have something to help them out. Now, you invite them to come with you and ask them to allow you be their guide to solve this thing.
So the tricky part for many is figuring out hot to accomplish these things while not sounding too "salesy" or in-your-face. Let's look at how you can do this and stay true to yourself and your brand.
The Process in Theory
Assuming you're not a content strategist or brand story teller, here a a few basic pointers to keep in mind:
Know your customer - define your target persona
Understand their problem(s) - what are their pain points, their problems. What do they struggle with?
Define your solution - position yourself as the hero! You understand their problem and have just the thing they need to solve it
Invite them to take action - offer yourself as the guide to help them find the answer
The Process in Practice
OK, you get the theory but how do you actually apply this to your product or service? Let's use a calendar app as an example. Say this app makes scheduling across various platforms easy and seamless (think iCalendar vs. MS Outlook), and it automatically converts timezones. Here's how we form a story:
My customer Joy lives in New Jersey. She needs to set up a meeting with Bob in California and Mary in the Midwest. Her distributed team is in three different timezones. I understand that Joy has had a history of missed presentations and important sales calls because recipient calendars aren't correctly adjusting timezones.
Enter WizCal! WizCal can ensure your attendees are on the call when needed by automatically converting the timezones for each recipient and adding it to their calendar (regardless of platform) in the correct time block. Everyone's on the call, the presentation goes well, CONGRATS, you sold another Gizmeter! By understanding WizCal's needs (their story), we were able to guide them to the right solution.
In case you missed it, the story isn't really about you, it's about your customer. This is what Miller means when he says the customer should be the hero, not your brand. Yeah, of course, talk about your history, your plans, why you do what you do. But in the end, you need to connect all of that to your customer -- be they consumers or other businesses -- the process is the same.
If you need help creating and telling your brand story, let's chat.