Once upon a time, there was a young tailor who was struggling to make a living selling his handmade suits. Every month he would scramble around to find the money to pay the rent, hoping he would eventually be able to find enough wealthy customers to keep his business alive.
But as time went on, his dreams of becoming Saville Row’s youngest successful tailor continued to fade.
One evening, he was drowning his sorrows in a London tavern when he decided to share his plight with a friend. After listening to the tailor’s woes, the friend, who happened to be a marketing wiz, devised a plan to help the tailor attract more customers and sell more suits without requiring a king’s ransom.
The plan was simple: under his friend’s guidance, the tailor would start writing stories about his business: on the training involved, choosing the right materials, the techniques used to craft every suit and to offer a window on the life of a traditional old world artisan.
From sharing insight into his profession and expertise, the tailor was able to build an audience very quickly, attract new customers and build a phenomenal level of online exposure. His blog, English Cut, is now recognized as a casebook example of effective internet marketing in action, and was featured in Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s book Naked Conversations.
The tailor’s sales have now trebled, he has recruited apprentices and started selling a new line of Â£150 shirts. His client base has now spread across the pond to the US, where he now pays regular visits to Manhattan, Chicago and anywhere else his services are requested.
The tailor drives his marketing simply by sharing stories about his profession and insight into the care and attention that goes into every suit.
People have been telling stories longer than recorded history.
Stories are powerful.
Stories swoop under the reader’s radar scanning for advertising. They can enable you to develop an emotional connection stronger than any sales chart or cleverly worded marketing message.
In the online world, you can’t talk to customers as you would in a shop. Therefore, you have to find other ways of introducing yourself and letting people know what you’re all about. What better way than in an ongoing discussion about your business and expertise?
Whether it’s in the form of a blog or newsletter, it has never been easier or cheaper to build relationships through the power of storytelling.
Every business has plenty of stories to tell, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- How was the company founded? Where does the name come from?
- How have you overcome a challenge? What did you learn from it?
- What stories do your customers have to tell about your business?
- What insight and opinions can you offer on the latest industry news?
- Who are the people that came the company going? Who is the person on the other end of the phone?
As internet marketers understand more about the challenges of selling online it’s becoming ever clearer that customers want to know more about you than what they can find on your profile page.
People like to trade with those they know and trust. You can build this trust by sharing your knowledge, expertise and history in a friendly, transparent manner.
So what’s your story?