Storytelling and marketing for SMEs

storybook

In our experience, social media adopters are basically SMBs — small and medium businesses or independents/solos seeking new ways to communicate.

In the not too distant past, SMBs were always credited with revitalizing a down economy and refueling confidence. Today, however, reports say SMB owners are stymied with the current lending debacle and are not hiring employees as fast as the economy needs them to (in the U.S.).

Look at social media. Our observation is that those with whom we engage on Twitter primarily are ALL SMBs from many points on the globe. Each of us in our own right have earned expertise in a variety of subject matters. This is what we will present to you, our readers, supporters, naysayers, friends, and more.

If you have an opinion to share, a consensus to build, a comment to negate, please do so in a respectful way. The sky is blue, and there’s so much of it to reach for. We will do that here and speak to sides of the story that may not be yours. We invite your opinion to make our conversation richer and robust.

We need your contributions and guest posts to accomplish our goals:

  • Create a community by and for SMBs where friendly exchange helps educate and bring solutions forward.
  • Develop a treasure trove of content for everyone’s access so we may help ease the learning process for all SMBs.
  • Delight in the varied global perspectives we hope to secure with leaders from all points in the world.

Content marketing combined with SEO really works. But do so so you need to make it work for the user.

Moreover, it may take a while to get results. See Pareto’s Law when it comes to content marketing.

More to do

We’re all small and medium sized businesses. We probably share a great many traits in common. We likely don’t enjoy the big corporate environment on a day-to-day basis. We like working for ourselves. We may have some entrepreneurial spirit and hopefully, we have a passion for our business, our product(s) or our services(s).

If I were to ask what is the nature of your business, how would you respond?

I would like to suggest to you that business is all about persuasion. You have to persuade customers and clients to do business with you. You have to persuade employees to do what you ask of them. You have to persuade vendors to give you the best deal they can. You may have to persuade investors or the local banker to have faith in your endeavor and vision by backing you financially.

So, how is it that we can and do persuade people? The great story lecturer and coach, Robert McKee, whose book Story is legend to screenwriters and novelists around the world, and whose workshops on Story are continually sold out, identifies three methods of persuasion — Rhetoric, Coercion and Story.

  • Rhetoric goes this way: You state a few facts about your products and services, back it up with a few authorities and you hope your potential clients or customers will be persuaded to open their pocketbooks. Sometimes that works; sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Coercion can take on many forms. Probably the best known (outside of the promise of sex of course) is the time honored coupon. Buy my product or service at this discount or in conjunction with this or that is usually the form it’s expressed in. That is usually more effective than rhetoric in getting people to open those very same pocketbooks.
  • Story goes beyond both of those methods. It admits the negatives that are missing from the other methods and follows a certain structure that engages your customers and clients on an emotional level. And I probably don’t need to tell you that nearly every study done has shown that we as people make decisions, buying and otherwise, based on emotional responses.

We’ll dive deeper into all of this in upcoming posts but for now let me suggest a great exercise for you to try:

  • Take your products and services and express them in light of each of those methods of persuasion.
  • List out your facts and authorities. (Are your competitors trying to persuade using those same facts and authorities?)
  • List your coercion tactics if you’re using them and if not, think about what might work for you.
  • And finally, think about how you might tell a little story (or a big one!) that admits some negatives about you, your business, your products and how you might move from those negatives to some positives (that’s part of the structure).
  • In the process engage your customers and clients in your story to the point that an emotional connection is made.

It’s a great exercise that I think you’ll have a lot of fun with. You might even share it with your employees and get them to do the same.