Have you ever gone through your marketing reports and wondered where you went wrong in marketing a perfectly great product or service? It is easy to miss the target and waste enormous amounts of money on marketing if your process and messaging aren’t spot on.
You may have a very pretty website with all the bells and whistles, but what message are your customers getting? Without a clear message, your customers will not hear your message, instead all they will see or hear is noise.
In reality, apart from developing products or services for your customers, your biggest goal and focus should be to explain to and convince your customers why they need those products or services in their lives. You might have the best product in the market, but without selling the benefit or solution that it brings, you will likely lose business to a competitor selling a lower-priced product.
Why a Brand Story?
A message presented in a simple and predictable way is easier for the brain to digest. When you communicate your message with the elements of a Brand Story, your customers are drawn to the solution you provide for them. Trust is built quickly, and they are more likely to buy from you.
We are wired for survival and thriving in life. All the actions we take and decisions we make have the end result of enabling us to get ahead in life. That means we are constantly scanning for information that will help us meet our primitive need to survive and thrive. These core motivations drive our emotions and our behavior.
As you consider your Brand Story, remember that how your products and services will help them to survive and thrive is the first and fundamental message you need to address.
The second most important part of your message is simplicity. How easy is it for your customer to understand your message? When your customers have to put in time or effort to process your message, they will check out and ignore it altogether.
Your customers have questions burning inside them, and if your message does not provide answers to those questions, then they will move on to another brand. Your customer wants to know that you understand their problem, and you will help them solve it. They want you to paint a clear picture to them showing their lives becoming simpler once you have solved their problem. Remember, all customers make purchase decisions based on what they hear, not what you say. It is therefore very important to make sure that your message is clear enough.
So, What is a Brand Story?
Any good movie or book is good because it has a strong storyline that draws you in. The elements of a good storyline have their equal with a Brand Story.
There is the Hero of the story – the main character. Our Hero runs into a problem and gets “stuck”. A Guide comes along who understands the Hero and the challenge s/he is facing. With empathy and credibility, our Guide lays out a plan that will completely solve the problem for our Hero. The Hero buys into it and the Guide tells him/her what to do in order to take action. Not stopping there, the Guide paints a fantastic picture of what success looks like, and adds a bit of “salt”, what will happen if action isn’t taken.
With this process, your Customer is the Hero, you are the Guide. It is your job to address the need they have with empathy and credibility, and outline the steps that lead to success.
We include building a Brand Story in all of our projects because it helps tune out the noise and gets everyone crystal clear on what needs to be said, what visuals are needed, and how we organize the site in order to lead people through the journey.
If you don’t have a Brand Story organized, and aren’t sure where to start, here’s our tip that goes into more detail.
How to implement a Brand Story for your website
Imagine that you are sharing a short elevator ride with a person you consider a potential investor for your business. What would you tell them in those few seconds to convince them to invest in your business? What words would you use to show that your business was worth a try?
Your website should work as an effective elevator pitch, meaning it should convey everything you need to engage and convince your customer within a few short seconds of landing on your site. Here are a few tips to help you get your message to your customers the right way:
Meet the 3-Second Rule
At best, you have 3-5 seconds to get attention when someone lands on your website. That’s not enough time to read a paragraph or scroll through “stuff”. Ditch the slider at the top (it’s an outdated fad from several years ago) and replace it with “answers” to the following:
- What do you do?
- How does that help me?
- How do I get it?
Of course you can have a beautiful background image to give a backdrop to this information. The last question, “how do I get it”, should be a Call to Action (CTA) button that makes sense (not “learn more”).
Make your Call to Action obvious
If you have properly answered the questions above at the top of your page, the next section should fill in a bit more detail for those that want to keep reading instead of clicking the CTA at the top. Here you’ve got more room to speak to your audience. If you have more than one, create a short intro for each of them, and give a CTA that takes them to a page of information specific to them.
Other Calls to Action can appear further down the page, for those who got excited by your message above the fold and scrolled down to learn more.
When people scan a website, they follow a Z pattern – starting at the top left. Capitalize on this and place your Call to Action in strategic places to make sure that your customers know what role you can play in making their lives easier.
We took a deep dive into utilizing CTAs in a previous tip, The Call to Action. Take a look if you want more about optimizing your CTAs.
Let your images paint the picture of success
Images are worth a thousand words, use them wisely! What emotions do you want your customers to feel after investing in your product or service? Images, videos, or other visuals effectively conveying peace, happiness and contentment will tug at your customers’ heartstrings as they show what the reward at the end of the journey will be if they allow you to solve their problems.
There are a few things to keep in mind with your images. Here’s a summary from our Tip on Using Images for Conversion:
- Draw emotion – your images should match, reinforce, or summarize your content.
- Be original – with all of the stock photo resources available, make sure that you somehow customize the image (at the very least, change the filename) before you use it.
- Be consistent – pick a style of image that matches your brand, and stick with it. Not being consistent creates noise.
- Watch the eyes – when we look at a picture that has a person, our eyes naturally follow where they are looking. Make sure the “eyes in your image” don’t look off the page, or away from where you want people to read or focus.
Keep it simple!
Most people are way too wordy when they write. Going back to the idea of the elevator pitch that we started with… how can you simply convey your message?
Once you’ve written a page of content, go back and see how much of it you can trim out and still get the message across. It’s almost like Toastmasters for your writing – get rid of all the written “umms, ahhs” and filler wording that really isn’t needed.
Stick to your story
Once you’ve created your story, everything… Everything! that you write needs to find its source in your story. If it’s not an extension or thought of your story, it doesn’t belong. IF you do this, you are eliminating all the noise that distracts people, leaving them to fully focus in on your message.
Make sure that your story is a believable and relatable story. Something that makes your customer have the “me too” feeling when your message hits home.
People buy feelings, not things, so make them feel, take them on a journey through your story. At the beginning of your story, they should feel ‘I am going through this very problem!’; in the middle, they should be feeling ‘I also want to use this product or service!’; and at the end, they should be feeling ‘I also want to be this satisfied by the product or service!’
Tell your story…win the hearts of your customers…and watch your business thrive!
Your Online Partner… for Success
How’s your Brand Story? We’re thrilled when people share theirs with us! If you have one, we’d love to see it, just send us an email. If you don’t have one and would like to have us coach you through the process, book a free session with Christy to find out more.