Yes, storytelling IS the fastest, least expensive, safest why to get from A to B.
How do I know? After being a small business marketing consultant for 30+ years, when we get story right, sales go up. When we don’t, even though everything else feels right, sales just lay there.
A shepherd’s job is results driven. Get from point A to point B quickly, inexpensively and safely. After 30+ years taking on the challenge of growing sales for small businesses, shepherding my clients’ stories is a pretty good job description for what I’ve done.
Sometimes I find your story because it hits me in the face.
A specialty manufacturing client had a proprietary process that allowed them to produce very small volume runs at high volume prices. Their customers all told me the same thing: they bought because they could get small runs (less inventory for them) without paying more. Yet, looking at the company’s marketing materials, that story was buried. We resurrected it, featured it and sales started to grow immediately.
Sometimes it’s a million things, it’s everything.
A remodeling contractor came to us “finally ready to start promoting their business” because a new material they developed was field tested and ready. We discovered that wasn’t the story at all. Their uniqueness lay in their owners’ “old school” approach to quality and doing things right. We put that front and center. We led with it. We ended with it. From “what to expect” handouts, “pardon our dust” notes and “Who we are” videos on their website, every customer touch point was designed to build comfort. Sales doubled and doubled again.
Sometimes it’s a blue bulldog.
What do you do when, by law, you can only say the same things your competitors say? Welcome to legal advertising where, literally, every personal injury law firm says the same four things. In this case we had to tell the same story, but tell it better. Our client had a special empathy for the anger their target client built up as they tried to deal with the insurance company. Rather than take the tired “We’re tough, aggressive lawyers. . .” every law firm was slinging, we recommended something quite different. A cartoon bulldog we showed beating up on the insurance company.
To our utter amazement, the client agreed to test it. We tested a flight of TV commercials Labor Day weekend, not the best time for a test. Their new cases went up 65% that September and stayed their, in an absolutely zero growth industry.
A shepherd better know what he’s doing, pay attention to just about everything, be the first to sing out when he sees danger and be willing to change directions based on what he finds along the way.
I ask a ton of questions, I’m willing to wander around looking for your story when it can look like I’m simply wandering around. And I’m the first hand up when it isn’t working. Because it DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK on the first iteration. We both know that. The key is to minimize the risk with each step; iterating, measuring and refining quickly, as we get feedback from the market.