Startups Need Great Storytelling - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

As a startup, you’re probably looking to do more with less. You may be eager to build trust so you can attract customers and boost sales. And chances are if you’re looking for ways to stand out in a sea of competitors, you may be overlooking storytelling.

Why storytelling?

Storytelling is a secret weapon for growing your personal brand and winning the hearts of customers, hiring managers, journalists, and even investors. It answers the dreaded question: Why should I invest in, believe in, or buy from you vs. them?

From highlighting your approach to sourcing quality materials for products to featuring customers’ before and after testimonials, storytelling can help you cut through the noise and grab the right people’s attention. Here are a few other ways you can leverage storytelling.

Appeal more to emotions in your marketing messages. Let’s face a harsh reality, with 2 billion people active on Facebook, and a gazillion more people with an e-commerce website, you’ll have to go beyond “selling” to attract your target audience. Take the focus off of you or your product. Learn how to include your audience’s emotions in your content such as empathy, humor, and compassion, in your messaging. For instance, beyond crafting a simple about page and sharing your experiences, core skills, talents, services or products, spotlight your customer’s challenges and show how your product or service offered them hope and gave them relief.

Tap into a sense of belonging. Let’s consider a lesson from the natural hair movement, which has surpassed the demand for perms and relaxers. One of the reasons why natural hair products have captured the hearts, minds, and dollars of so many consumers is because companies such as Shea Moisture or Miss Jessie’s have created a sense of community around their brand. Using visual storytelling platforms like Instagram, these brands have built a supportive and inspiring community for transitioning naturalistas, which has also increased awareness and sales of products.

Become an expert by educating your consumers. Whether your ultimate goal is to protect the environment from pollution or change the way people cook soul food, educating your consumers with “how-to” stories is another intriguing way to persuade people to buy from you and not the competition.

Increase customer loyalty by becoming an influential leader in your industry. Influence inspires behavior change but it takes time to build trust with an audience. Think about it this way: What is the niche that you want to be known for? Who do you want to help and why? What unique perspectives or approaches can you offer about challenges in your industry?

Pick a side. About 10 years ago, it was OK for companies to avoid politics and environmental issues. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Nowadays, customers, as well as investors, want to know that you stand for something they value as well. Focus on legacy work—projects or a movement that will outlive you.

 

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