Consumers are bombarded by advertising messages these days. Daily reminders to buy something appears on their smartphones, televisions, stuffed under their windshield wipers, blasted over social media, and in the mail. As a society, our senses have become dulled to advertisements like this.
We will go out of our way to avoid being “sold to”. In our homes, more people are opting for Netflix over cable – who wants to pay to be advertised to? Online, we are using ad blockers to filter out the noise of the content we actually want to see.
So how do you build a brand when so many people are actively tuning out advertisements?
Use Storytelling to Build Your Brand
Every brand has a story to tell. When you sit down to write to your blog or post to social media, as a business your first thought might be to talk about your latest product. Your followers aren’t concerned with what products you have to offer though. Products aren’t interesting or engaging.People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Click To Tweet
Let’s take a quick look at two tweets from well-known brands to see the difference between a “product” tweet and a “story” tweet.
Fireworks ahead … celebrate with a splash! 🎉 $3 Hand Soaps starts TODAY! pic.twitter.com/sEmfJhFhcZ
— Bath & Body Works (@bathbodyworks) July 3, 2017
This tweet from Bath & Body Works tells us that their hand soaps cost $3 but not much else. From the pictures, I can’t really tell much about the product – but I am getting a craving for some pineapple 🙂
Why do I want to buy those hand soaps versus the $2 hand soaps I can find at the grocery store right around the corner from my house?
— Lowe's (@Lowes) May 31, 2017
Lowe’s home improvement store doesn’t directly come out and say it in this tweet, but they are supporters of the military and veterans. They are using the story of one of their employees, a WWII veteran to show their support.
Putting a face with the story helps build its authenticity, but actions speak louder than words. This tweet also came out about a week after the company announced a 10% discount for all active military and veterans.
Continue Your Customer’s Story
Lowe’s also recognizes that a good portion of their customer base is the DIY type. Instead of creating a series of social media posts about the products they sell, they offer solutions to common problems people might have. This builds on the story that their customers are already telling.
For example, would you be more energized to buy some paint reading a tweet that said “Come get a gallon of paint for $30”, or something like this:
— Lowe's (@Lowes) May 25, 2017
In that tweet, they’re talking to the customer who is bored with how a room looks in their house and wants to spruce it up quickly. It’s pretty likely that the customer they’re targeting already talked to friends or relatives about ideas to spruce up their home. This could be the idea that gets them started.
How to Tell Your Brand’s Story
Is there a particular cause that your brand supports? Like Lowe’s supporting the military, your brand might donate a portion of your profits to help the homeless, fight childhood cancer, or even improve access to clean water in impoverished countries.What does your brand stand for? Do your customers know about your values? Click To Tweet
TOMS launched a footwear business with the desire to donate a pair of shoes for every pair that was purchased. They have since expanded and provide help for many different causes.
Your TOMS eyewear purchases have helped restore sight to over 500K people in need. This is why we do it. pic.twitter.com/Ji8vBaGr19
— TOMS (@TOMS) June 28, 2017
What does your brand stand for? Do your customers know about your values? This is important because people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Why not start by taking a look at your website. Those fixes are easy. Is your brand communicating its values in those often overlooked pages like the “About Us” page?
Also, make sure that you are actually living the values that you are promoting. Because nothing will kill your brand faster than being hypocritical.
Imagine a brand that donates a portion of their profits to help improve access to clean water but is caught dumping waste into a local river. That would be a disaster, not just for the environment, but also for the brand’s image.