Bring Your Brand to Life

Through the Power of Story

Category: Content Marketing

The little voice at 3 AM, the heart that beats too fast…

The little voice at 3 AM, the heart that beats too fast, and the atrophied, calcified systems? Join me at Innovate New Albany for the Sundown Rundown event on April 10 from noon to 1 PM as I help you uncover that little voice that keeps your customer up at night. The key that can transform your customer’s worst nightmare into an emotionally-charged customer story; the double-edge sword that helps you retain current customers, while sealing the deal with new ones. In this one-hour workshop, you’ll leave with a worksheet, and examples, to help you get started building your own customer success story. Get tickets here.

Why build emotional stories instead of rational ones? Analysis of data from the IPA (the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) compared the profitability boost of 1400 campaigns and found that campaigns with only emotional content performed nearly two times better (31% vs. 16%) than those with only rational content.estories

Your road will be much easier if you create content that builds an emotional connection with your customer. Stories are far more powerful than data. So, why not create content that’s actually going to solve your sales problems. A good customer story will provide all the data they need to make a logical decision, while giving them the emotional pull they need to move forward.

What’s The Shortest Distance Between You and Your Customer?

The latest social media figures reveal there are:

  • 751 million Facebook users
  • 288 million monthly twitter users
  • 238 million LinkedIn users

SmartPak says that Facebook is the number 7 revenue referrer to their website. If you visit the SmarkPak Facebook page, you’ll find nearly 110,000 fans come there to find answers to common problems on equestrian care.

So how can you harness those millions of social media numbers to generate more revenue for your business?

Simple: SmartPak uses Facebook as a place for customers to vent their problems and frustrations. SmartPak listens, and uses that information to build web content that solves problems, positioning SmartPak as a leader, and an advocate to the industry.

How can you get those Facebook and twitter users to share your stories, and promote your brand? What’s the secret to getting users to actively engage with you online and spread the word?

Southwest airlines did not gain 1.61 million (so far) twitter followers through a well-crafted about me page. Instead, Southwest Airlines knows the power of story, and that actions speak louder than words, and used the story to create resonance with its readers.

When a client reaches out for help in building an engaging social media presence, I know I can usually find the “gold” in the customer story archives.

Stories connect people

  1. Build trust

  2. transcend generations

  3. engage our emotions

  4. inspire us, and

  5. Are contagious…social-med

Create Web Resonance And Attract More Visitors

In the same way that mechanical resonance attracts more energy, you can fine tune your web site content, turning it into resonators that attract an increasing number “hits” from the search engines.

You already know your industry’s pain points. You also know what triggers will send your customers and prospects to Google to find more insight into solving those issues. You probably can also predict the exact words your prospect will use when they fill in that Google search tab.

What you may not know is this:

Where will Google place your web site on that search results list?

Before making any purchasing decisions, people consume an average of 10.4 sources of information, according to Google research. This is up from 5.3 sources in just 2010.

Too often, businesses view their web pages as simply a virtual storefront, allowing visitors to browse your product selections, customer testimonials, client list and personnel. But when a customer has a problem to solve, these items are frivolous bits of information. Yes, you hope this data will become important later on in the sales cycle, but that’s only if you’ve laid the groundwork first.

Right now, in this initial data gathering phase of the sales cycle, the customer is focused on gathering data, and discerning which one of the companies on this Google search results page will do the best job of solving this problem. Prospects are looking to find resonance. Have you shown evidence that you are truly tuned into the industry and its current challenges?

Company press releases and notices of recent promotions do not fit the bill. Instead, your website should include a revolving door of current blog posts that encourage insight, collaboration and solutions within the industry.

  • What is the COO’s take on the latest government mandate?
  • How will the latest tax law impact your industry?
  • How are you re-engineering your services to meet the changing economic climate to make your product more affordable to your clients?
  • What are your predictions for the industry, and how can we prepare for them now?

This is the type of content that readers like to share on social sites, bookmark for future reference and email to colleagues. This is the kind of content that builds credibility, while simultaneously lifting your search engine ranking within Google.

Your Blog Is Not the Place To Tout Your Latest Press Release

Propsective customers want to learn; then they’ll buy. Research from Gartner reveals that 99 percent of purchases of complex products and services begin with a Google search. How far do they search? A study by Google found most people consume an average of 10.4 sources of information before making a purchase decision. This is up from 5.3 sources in just 2010.

Today, no matter what we sell, we are first and foremost, providers of information. Is our information searchable? Is it sent out through our social channels? When people are searching via Google, they are stringing together a set of words to fill that search bar. How closely does your website content match the group of words they are typing? As Jay Baer puts it in his book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype
, “You have to understand what your prospective customers need to make better decisions, and how you can improve their life by providing it.”

How can you build that kind of vital content?

Indium Corporation identified 73 of the most important keywords their prospective customers would search for. Then, they created 73 different blogs that focused on each keyword and wrote stores for those blogs, based on content. Once the blogs took off, customer contacts increased 600% in a single quarter. And everyone who contacted a blog author, commented on a blog post or downloaded a white paper opted in to the company’s customer database.

It’s OK, and it’s preferable if your blog posts are not about selling your business. Use your blog to develop rich content that gets to the heart of your customer. Answer every question you can think of. You blog is not the place to echo your press releases in slightly modified language. Your blog is a source for rich, valuable information that is relevant to your customers, and to help them make informed, educated decision. Today’s new and complex search engines gives you a greater challenge but also a greater window of opportunity to engage customers.


Susan (at)



Get Them to Contact You After the First Visit To Your Website

When prospects want to learn about you and your products, the first place they head to for more information is your website. You may have gorgeous graphics, catchy phrases and easy navigation – but that’s not going to convince them to stay, and contact you.

If you’re clever, you will anticipate your prospects’ need even before they open the browser. Follow the example of these four companies to be ready with the exact information they’re looking for.

Just open this webpage to Canon USA for a picture-perfect example. Instantly you’ll notice right smack in the middle of the page is a virtual slide show with entrancing headlines:

  • Counterfeit Accessories are more destructive than you think. “learn more…”
  • Cannon Education: In-depth tutorials, education and more… “learn more….”

If you’ve spent, or are considering spending, a significant amount of money and time on copy machines or photography, how could you resist learning more about these topics?

A quick visit to the web page of FedEx, (one of the Most Reputable Companies of 2013), instantly reveals timeliness – with its “Quick Access” login, FedEx reinforces its reputation and image as the one who keeps tabs on the pulse of its packages. – The customer says, “Yes – show me how much it will cost me to get my package there!”

When you open the Stanley Black and Decker homepage, you’ll see a live feed of news and broadcasts and several links to analysis and investor reports. Clearly, Stanley knows investors frequent their website, and Stanley is catering to these important visitors by making it easy for investors and reporters to find exactly what they need – fast. Notice, also, Stanley’s emphasis on safety — this reassures not only buyers, but investors as well.

Kellogg’s website draws readers in with links to nutrition, offers for a free book, and of course printable coupons.

Each website example I’ve listed here has clearly identified it’s prospects, and has provided an offer to give each visitor something valuable and unique. The key is to use your website to fill a need the prospect wants – as soon as your page is opened. The customer is actively engaged, willing to fill out any online-necessary online forms and quick to join any social media outlets the company offers.

If you’d like help in doing the same, contact us.

Use Your Blog To Be Your Customer’s Biggest Hero

Facts, specifications, dollars and black and white data each have their place in the sales cycle. Yet, buyers need an emotional connection to motivate them to buy. A story provides a powerful impact when building an emotional connection with your customers. The blog is the quickest, fastest medium to share your story.

Blogging shows your customers that you are accessible. That “contact me” button is an invitation to connect. More importantly, blogging is profitable. “Fifty six percent of businesses that blogged at least monthly acquired customers through their blogs. Blogging three times a week increased the percentage to 70 percent; daily blogging upped it to 78 percent,” according to a 2012 study from HubSpot.

Here’s how to use your blog to generate an emotional connection with your customers:

  • Choose topics that solve problems. You already know the key issues your customers face. Show your customers exactly how familiar you are with the challenges they face, with specific, personal stories that reveal your own insights and experiences.
  • Give your customers a happy ending – show them how your proficiency solved your customer’s problem. Use specific facts and measurements.
  • Let them know what’s coming. Position yourself as the industry expert you are by revealing what new issues and challenges they can expect to face, and how you are already poised and ready to take them there as painlessly as possible.

Each blog post you publish gives the reader a dynamic update on your business, your industry, and helps to sharpen your business focus. Your blog creates an instant searchable on-line keyword archive, easily accessible by your sales and marketing staff, to target a customer’s specific needs and close a sale. More importantly, Google indexes your blog posts, via key words, so that future Google searchers will find your page.
If the idea of coming up with a new story every day – or every week, seems daunting, simply contact us.

Finding Followers, Expanding Influence

The quickest way to effectively ramp up your FB/Twitter/LI following is by seeking out people who are most likely to care about what you’re putting out there — your target audience, customers, colleagues, others in your industry — and follow them.  But who are they?

Finding the right people to follow isn’t always easy to do, when you consider the 145+ million SM users, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, and it can be a major time eater. You can always invite Fans via your address book from the Facebook icon — however, it’s a good idea to add some quality content first. Invite them once you have started to add some more content, stories and news updates, to your page.

It’s important not to overstretch your SM program with updates that only self-promote you. Give your followers quality content, without always asking them for a sale. Your SM campaign cannot consist only of customer success stories and news releases about AccBen — you’ll need to include some relevant industry news too.

Most important, however, is to remember to keep SM active and responsive, and to focus on the relationship part of social networking. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the more you put into the process, the more you will get out of it.

I’ve refined and streamlined the process of developing a SM following to save time, and to build a quality network.  I usually follow these steps:

  1. What the Trend: Shows you what’s trending on Social Media and why.  This is a great way to search for users who tweet about specific topics, and get your own account found when someone else searches.
  2. Industry analysts/reporters. These are found by looking at the bios of relevant stories in trade publications and subscribing to their Social Networks. We want these sources to follow you, — and they probably need to follow you (they need the stories!). Let them know your SM activity. .
  3. Who else do the industry analysts/reporters follow? A goldmine of potential followers.
  4. Once you begin posting regularly on LinkedIn, FB and are active on Twitter, you will naturally find a steady a steady stream of people who like you, retweet you and mention you in LinkedIn. Although you may already be following some of these people, these likes and tweets can make you aware of new people you should be following.
  5. Invite your friends go to your business page via your address book. Again, it’s important to wait until your page has a collection of solid content.
  6. Sharing a page. This can be done with the customer success stories, as well as any other page on the web that you believe could benefit your followers. We can create a great deal of SM synergy by cross promoting customer success stories, via SM with our customers.
  7. Offering an incentive. A great way to encourage friends to ‘like’ your page is by offering an incentive. This might be a free ebook, a complimentary analysis,  — whatever it is that you can offer so it connects to your business.
  8. As your followers begin to grow, look at their profiles and examine their own SM network. This gives you a new collection of people to analyze to determine if these might be good followers.

If you would like me to help you handle all or part of this, contact me. I’ll be happy to put together a proposal for you, based on your needs.

Is Your Facebook Page Flatlining?

So many businesses have created their Facebook pages, their LinkedIn Accounts, and have fiddled around with Twitter. Yet, their Social Media business is still flat-lining… and they can’t figure out why. Perhaps they need to tweet more often — or maybe they need to analyze what time of day journalists are reading tweets? Maybe they need more photos to upload onto Facebook? In vain, they’re struggling, trying to find that magic formula that will bring new business rolling in, via Social Media.

All successful marketing campaigns are built on a good story. Customers want an excuse to buy your products — and primarily — the compelling reason they want is to create an emotional connection with you. Master Card does it with their “Priceless” campaign. Nike tells you to “Just Do It,” and we all know a Kodak moment when we see one.

Your company’s signature “emotional connection” will evolve over time — it should, if you are responding to the market, to your customer and to the environment. The fertile ground for capturing and developing those emotional nuances is the story. And your company blog is the ideal place to capture those stories. Customer success stories, historical dates that are pivotal in your comapny’s history, a crisis that was averted — or handled well. (Who were the heroes that day?) New products and why — those are the stories that should be filling your comapny’s blog — creating a timeline of your company’s footprint in the industries you serve.

So many businesses try to create a shortcut out of doing the hard work of sitting down and fleshing out the story… building the book that is your company. They want to open up the Facebook page, throw up a photo and say, “look at our new product.” Every FB update worth reading has a bigger story behind the photo — and it’s your job to get that story, and let your social media feed off your story.

Your company blog is the resource of your SM accounts. Your blog posts should have enough meat to drive your tweets, your FB updates, and your LinkedIn updates. In the classroom, think of your SM accounts as the Cliff Notes version of what’s really happening behind the doors at your company. The real novel, can be found in the blog.

Not only with your blog stories give you the foundation for building your SM activities — it’s good to know that this is the primary place journalists still go to find information about you. Check out this latest research from Ragan’s PR Daily.



Where Consumers are Finding the Facts About You

How accessible is your business in the sphere of social media? More importantly, how current are your social media updates? Consumers are peering into your social networks to learn more about you. A Facebook page, or Twitter page with sparse updates looks like a ghost town to a consumer seeking the latest information on your product.

The tide has changed — social media pages are the premiere resource for consumers looking for information on brands, companies and products. According to a study done by OTX Research on behalf of DEI worldwide entitled “The Impact of Social Media on Purchasing Behavior“, seventy percent of consumers visit social media websites. Forty-nine percent make a purchasing decision on what they learn from these social media sites — such as social message boards, Facebook, Twitter, and your company blog. (When was your last post?!)

Here’s a PDF of the complete report:
The Impact of Social Media on Purchasing Behavior