Stories can be a powerful way to engage clients and bring more of a personal connection between your customers and your staff or products. We asked 6 professionals and company owners engaged in business as mission to share how they have used stories to connect with customers, build their brand and sell products, here’s what they shared:
In the case of the fashion industry, consumers have largely lost the association of the human impact our purchases make. I believe it is key that businesses use stories wherever they can to add value to their brand, the more personal the better. All our team members and crafters have published stories on our website. Our brand is built on the stories and connects the consumer to “Who Made Yours” with a unique, identifying tag on each item. – Brad, South Asia
As our company has grown, then yes, we have used the life stories of our staff to connect with customers. Stories are certainly powerful but with that comes huge responsibility. This should never be taken lightly! Stories of transformation should always be highlighted rather than their past. Everyday examples should always dwell on the positive and not the negative. It could be a temptation to use sensationalism, but that while that is powerful, it should never be the motivation! There are definitely pros and cons to using real stories of employees and we would strongly advise that you first earn the trust of the person whose story you are telling, and inform and gain their consent before using it as a marketing tool. Any photo or video captured also has to have consent, along with an explanation of the power of social media. As a rule of thumb we do not use facial recognition unless consent is given and we have a no photo policy for any visitors, with photos and videos only being taken by trusted team members. We also always change the name when publishing as a safeguard. – Kara, South Asia
With an online fashion retailer I worked with, every product had a well written story of the brand/product and how it changed the world positively. This story was often accompanied by well shot images and video content and was a key factor in driving sales. Our analytics showed us that these stories were being read, were encouraging visitors to spend longer on the site and ultimately driving sales. – Jai, Australia
We use stories from our existing clients all the time to connect with like future customers e.g. same sector, industry, size of business, position in organisation etc. I think marketing and promotion in the 21st century must be centred on customers sharing their story of experience, impact and outcome. People are increasingly wary of stories or promotional material generated by the company itself. Peer rating is critical, thus potential clients want to hear from people like them who have experienced our service. Testimonials are vital. Using Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a management tool is also very useful. Anecdotal stories and recounts are good, but data is critical to measure and verify improvement and outcomes. Data must be supplied, but stories brings the data to life. – Liam, Australia
We seek to be genuine and we do not pretend to be anything that we are not. What you see is what you get, so I feel our lives are pretty much a straight representation, or tell a story, of who we are as a company. I think that is what our clients see and like, that we are regular folks looking to do good work and form partnerships. Also, we usually introduce our entire team to our clients so they can put faces to names and see us a individuals rather than just a resource. I have often felt that stories help build empathy, and empathy helps us understand desires and needs which allow us to think of ways to meet those needs and build stronger connections. Here’s a quote I like, “Storytelling with empathy can be especially valuable in business because, when you’re in tune with others’ needs, you can better serve them as customers, be a better leader, and design better products and services.” – Yumi, Southeast Asia
We are a B2B company and have used impact storytelling sparingly since the market does not put much weight on it in the buying criteria. We also have focused on innovation and a value proposition that can compete and win in the global market, allowing us to create impact at scale. That said, we are working on some impact stories about our employees to connect with customers and are trying to put together some initial principles to guide our efforts. Here are three principles we’ve come up with:
1. The hero of the story needs to be the individual(s), not our company
2. The focus needs to be on celebrating talent, not feeling sorry for the individual.
3. There needs to be an aspect of excellence and competency in the work, not just “anybody can do it”.
– Mark, South Asia
Compiled by Jo Plummer with thanks to the BAM Practitioners who shared.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.