Brands, Don’t Tell Your Story

A major marketing trend at the moment is for brands to engage in storytelling. Having helped tell company’s stories over my 20 years as a professional marketing writer, let me just say to any company who is thinking of rewriting their tagline, website and promotional materials to better tell their story: Don’t. Just don’t.

A Case Study in What Not to Do

A few years ago, I was brought on board to rebrand an over 100-year-old, family-owned company that developed leading-edge technology for multiple industries. Though they created quite impressive products, they seemed most proud of their roots. A glance at their website home page, along with the multiple about us pages, proved this fixation on their heritage.

Here’s the thing, despite building industry-leading products, their own story got in the way of potential customers knowing about their products. In other words, too much storytelling prevented potential sales.

What Some Brands Get Wrong

Every company has a story. While I said that I don’t recommend storytelling, the truth of the matter is, I do. Very much so. But, the focus of your story needs to be on the customer, not your company.

People are short on time. When they enter a website, they don’t want to wade through paragraphs of exposition on your origin story. They want to know if you have what they are looking for and they want to know ASAP.

While my client had reason to take pride in their history, their potential customers didn’t need the entire backstory to know if the company had what they needed. A few site visitors might have enjoyed the history lesson, but every visitor needed to know what products the company had to offer and how the company could help. So, we reframed the marketing message to better engage the target audience and meet her immediate needs.

How to Craft an Effective Marketing Message

Whether through websites, blogs, print materials or taglines, the first step to engaging your target audience is to define who that audience is. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is your potential target audience/customer/client?
  • What need does she have?
  • What pain point is preventing her from meeting that need?
  • How can you help meet that need for her?

Of course there are far more questions and data points we could dig through for a more precise definition of a target audience, but these questions are a starting point.

Identify with your target audience. Relate to her. Then explain in simple and concise ways how you have a solution for her. Maybe she’d like to hear a bit about your grandpa’s entrepreneurial spirit, but more often than not, she first wants to know if you can help her solve a problem right now. If she cares to see pictures from the past, she can click a link in the footer to go deeper into an about us page.

In short, an effective marketing message needs clear, concise copy written with the primary audience in mind. Focus on her need, her pain point and how you can help. Save the history lesson for another day.

Looking for help with your storytelling/marketing/brand message? I’d love to chat! I specialize in helping organizations and individuals tell more effective and engaging stories. Message me and we can talk.

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