Connect To Your Audience Thru Story Gathering

Imagine the chill of the air at your back, softened by the crackling heat of a campfire before you. Sitting in a circle of community members, your eyes turn toward the best storyteller in your tribe. You settle in, content to be among friends and eager to hear a new tale.  

Humans learn facts by reading spreadsheets or bullet points, but they come to understand their world and their relationship to your brand through stories. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense: but we’ve been sitting around fire pits for thousands and thousands of years. We are hardwired to love listening to people tell stories because stories speak to us on the deepest level.

In addition to your clients’ natural interest in stories, online communication–especially social media–prioritizes real stories. This is FANTASTIC NEWS for your brand because your direct relationship with your customer/client is your advantage. You’re not Amazon. You’re not Walmart. You and your colleagues hear stories from your customers EVERY DAY. Here are just a few stories I’ve heard from clients:

  • A credit union branch teller remembers EVERY customer’s name. It’s like magic and it makes the customers so happy.

  • A spa customer happened to mention a skin problem to a spa’s aesthetician, who provided guidance that solved the problem.

  • An office building tenant loves inviting clients to her office because her guests love her office space so much.

  • A local small business has been supporting an amazing local non-profit for years. That non-profit recently very publicly thanked the business.

Imagine seeing these stories on your social media feeds; stories involving REAL moments will connect your customers to you in ways a discount or other special offer never will.

So let’s gather stories! Here are three concrete steps to build share-worthy, like-worthy, engaging content that will garner you new fans and higher wallet share among your current customers:

Key Players While collecting stories shouldn’t be the responsibility of just one person, or even one department, it helps to have your leaders create and support a culture where stories are shared openly. Ask your CEO or CMO to convey–and even lead by example–the efforts to collect stories from customers and local partners.

Once leadership is on board, identify the people who most connect with your current customers and giving programs. These people will become your greatest asset! Empower them to collect and share their experiences with you.

First Item on Every Meeting Agenda One way to increase the number of stories you have is to use the first ten minutes of staff meetings to tell stories. Rather than leading with an informational update, give everyone a chance to talk about their favorite moment from the past week, someone who made an impression on them, or something else. Not only will this increase your exposure to great stories, it will also connect all staff members to your mission to delight your customers. Designate a marketing staff person to collect those stories so they can be shared on social media.

Automate Collection Systems Sometimes staff hear great stories, but they aren’t sure what to do with them. Create a hard copy form and distribute it widely or, even better, create an online form that allows colleagues to easily submit and share stories. Tools like Google Forms are great for this!

My favorite high school math teacher, before handing out a test, would remind us to “show our work.” What did he mean by “show your work?” Even if you didn’t get the answer right, he wanted to see how you got to the solution. He wanted to see how you tackled solving a problem.

I believe your company’s most passionate current and potential customers are interested in seeing you show your work through story telling. You can now add story gathering to your brand strategy to begin earning more than ever before.