It’s nearly impossible to create those kinds of stories without a targeted communications strategy that is patient, flexible, and long-lasting.
So much of content marketing today is used to build trust with human beings.
But people are not rational creatures. We do not behave in predictable patterns.
As much as we’d like to apply science to our communications, it’s nearly impossible to do so.
Relationships and brand perception matter. How a product or service makes a customer feel is important.
What’s most important, though, is how much trust we create through content marketing.
Business is Personal
Technology has allowed us to better understand our customers, their patterns, and even the human emotions that trigger the need to buy, but there still is an art to content creation.
Business is personal. We buy from people we like and trust.
Technology has allowed us to develop that trust through content marketing and in the way we communicate, but it’s also easier for it to erode if we don’t handle it with care.
Of course, this all worked differently before the digital era.
It used to be, if someone were upset about their experience with our company, they told their family, their next door neighbor, maybe a handful of friends. They might even have taken the time to write a letter and mail it to the CEO, who might or might not ever have seen it. If the company had its act together, they’d send a letter back and offer to fix it in some small way and that was the end of that.
Today, if someone has a bad experience with our company, they take to the web. They tell their family, their next door neighbor, and their 3,000 Twitter followers who all tweet and retweet the story until you’re faced with a firestorm that creates a few sleepless nights.
Content Marketing Examples
To manage our reputations, we have to build trust to develop relationships.
We can do that through content marketing, but we have to provide educational and valuable information, not our latest-and-greatest sales pitch.
That information should help our customers and prospects solve the problems they are having—maybe it’s weight loss or work/life balance or perhaps it’s business growth or scaling more quickly.
Whatever it happens to be, harvest stories that humanize the company in order to sell.
There are many examples showing how companies grew because of the stories they tell: Zappos and delivering happiness is one, Virgin and its crazy founder is another, and Felix Baumgartner (Red Bull) breaking the speed of sound in a free fall from space is another.
An organization in Omaha, Neb., hires only visually impaired people. The business makes a product so intricate, it’s impossible for people with sight to build it because we’re too easily distracted.
A conversation with its CEO revealed one of his employees climbed Mt. Hood unassisted, and another is one of the world’s top gospel music vocalists.
It’s interesting enough that the company employs blind people; it’s even more interesting when you learn such fascinating stories about its employees.
Customer Stories Build Reputation
There are many great case studies on how organizations use storytelling to build awareness, generate leads, and eventually convert them into customers.
Simply do a Google search for “customer stories” and you’ll find pages and pages of results.
These are all organizations telling stories in real and compelling ways.
From Nordstrom and Southwest Airlines to Sainsbury’s, Trader Joe’s, and Gaylord Opryland, are all telling stories about their history or employees or their customers, or their customers are telling stories about them.
Today we are faced with content exhaustion. There is so much out there and our customers have to wade through it all.
You can shine like the beaming light of a lighthouse on the island if you optimize content marketing with your reputation in mind.
That means staying focused, having a clear editorial message, telling incredible human stories, and providing information that makes the lives of your customers and prospects easy.
This article first appeared in the Marketwired tip sheet, “How to Turn Your PR Content into Clickable, Shareable and Search-friendly Stories.”