Brand Storytelling That Will Make Your Marketing Soar

Brand Storytelling That Will Make Your Marketing Soar

Stories have been the primary tool for connecting people and sharing ideas for thousands of years. And if you want to develop deeper connections with your customers (existing and potential), then brand storytelling is a marketing strategy you’ll want to master.

Storytelling has been a big part of my journey both as a blogger/author and a business owner. So you can imagine my excitement when #SEMrushchat, a weekly Twitter chat with some of the best minds in digital marketing, picked this as a discussion topic.

In fact, this is something I’ve talked about before with local business groups. (Check out the full Facebook Live from our page.)

I’m not going to share every Tweet from that conversation, but I thought the conversation was worth sharing here. Here are the questions, my responses, and the SEMrush question recap posts that include details from other people’s responses.

Q1. Why is storytelling important for business?

Step away from marketing strategy for a moment. Stories have been used to communicate and carry on ideas for thousands of years. Hearing a story gives you a greater opportunity to connect emotionally. It also makes the idea easier to remember and communicate. We still tell stories written decades and centuries and millennium ago. The staying power is awesome.

Now think about how powerful it would be if you could use that in your business. Brand storytelling is all about using the power of story to connect with your customers over shared ideas and values. And that can be an incredible marketing tool!

I love the responses that get into things like how “stories humanize brands.” So much of how small businesses do digital marketing is to blast features, benefits, and technical aspects of their products. That misses the mark. If you can get into the story you need to tell, then you’re building something people can better relate to.

Q2. Once you’ve decided to create a storytelling strategy, what are the steps you should take?

The stories we tell can be dynamic and flexible for sharing in different ways on and offline. So the first thing you need to do is clearly define certain common elements. I often take an approach of making the customer the hero of the story, not you (the brand/business). And you can have a few different stories related to different types of customers and/or problems they encounter. So being clear on what the hero in your stories looks like helps you to have a framework for telling many different stories everywhere you want to tell them.

But this idea of not telling your story, and making the customer the focus (hero) is something others don’t always easily get…

This is an idea that I’ve experienced in many of my non-profit storytelling adventures. We’ve raised large amounts of money online by inviting other people to be the hero of the story. And applying the hero/guide concept to brand storytelling is something one of my favorite writers has been teaching too. Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen (affiliate link) book is a great resource that digs much deeper into this topic.

Point taken. In Star Wars (the original trilogy), Luke Skywalker is the hero. And with brand storytelling, that’s where we want our customers to be. It’s all about their journey. Then there’s Yoda, the guide. And that’s where you want your business to be. It’s not that Yoda’s story doesn’t matter, but it’s not his journey, and he’s not the hero of that story. In fact, the more we learn about Yoda’s backstory, the more helpful it is to understand his role in Luke Skywalker’s journey. So I’m not saying ignore yourself. Just position yourself properly within the story.

One of the biggest things I see from others in this part of the conversation is the importance of planning your content. And that’s definitely a big factor with any marketing strategy. The stories we develop can be used in various ways across many platforms. Take the time to develop it well, and plan how you are going to use it in different places. Then let it guide how you share everything. Even when you’re curating content from other sources on your social media profiles, ask yourself how it supports the stories you’re telling.

Q3. What are the essential questions to begin gathering your own stories?

For me, the biggest questions are around the elements of the story. These elements can help you draw strong connections between the stories you have in your back pocket, and communicating what a particular customer needs to hear. It’s important to have a library of stories that you can tell. Not every one of them is going to match the journey another new customer is on. So spend the time thinking about all of the problems/obstacles you encounter, so that you can have one of those stories ready for the next person who needs to hear it.

And I love seeing responses talking about things like values. As a business owner myself, my values are part of the reason my customers like me. The core products themselves can maybe be purchased elsewhere. But not everyone has the same values I do. And that kind of thing can be a big deciding factor for potential customers.

Q4. What are the possible forms of storytelling available for any business?

Not only can the stories be told across various platforms, but how you tell them can vary too. And it should also be the filter for anything else you do, whether you’re “telling the story” or not. Think of your company’s Facebook page timeline. Look over the posts for the last couple of months like you’re reading a book. What story does it tell?

And I totally agree with the idea that everyone learns and engages differently. Too many businesses use the same exact post shared on multiple social media platforms. Take the time to evaluate and customize the messaging for each platform. It’s a little more work, but the payoff is huge.

Q5. What resources on marketing storytelling would you recommend to go deeper into that topic?

Basically, I believe it’s important to be a student of the subject in order to be an effective marketer. One practice for that is to read good stories (and watch movies with good stories). This is also where books like Invisible Ink, Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View, and On Writing (affiliate links) have proven to be valuable resources for making me a better marketer.

And when I mention the webinars we do, specifically 3 Steps to Focus Your Story and Unlock Customer Growth is a good one on this topic.

The other resources mentioned here are all fantastic. I’ve already seen several of these and can attest to how valuable they are. And the others just got added to my list of things to study on the topic.

Final Thoughts on Brand Storytelling

One important takeaway I got from this #SEMrushchat session was that brand storytelling is something that needs to be strategic and well thought out. It’s not good enough to scribble a few ideas on a napkin, make a quick YouTube video about yourself, drop on your website, and call it a day.

brand storytelling

Spend some time thinking through what your brand stories should accomplish, craft them well, and let them take on their own life… everywhere. Putting in the effort will get results if done consistently over time.

 

How To Boost Your Blog With Google Analytics

How To Boost Your Blog With Google Analytics

How To Boost Your Blog With Google Analytics

Category: Writer Strategy
Skill Level: All Levels
Live Webinar: Thursday, October 23, 2019 at 12:00pm ET (9:00am PT) [REGISTER NOW]

When you’re looking for ways to improve your blog, Google Analytics can be your best source of direction. The problem is that most bloggers don’t understand much beyond seeing the number of visitors who come to their site each day.Β 

But if you know what you’re looking for, then Google Analytics can be a wealth of information that guides you to greater success month after month.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • Why Google Analytics is your best source of information to improve your blog
  • What the key metrics are you’ll need to knowΒ 
  • What reports you can monitor to get a better understanding of how your blog is performing
  • How to use the data you find to make changes that will make a difference
  • How to build a plan of continual improvement into your blogging habits

Upon completion of this webinar, you’ll have a better understanding of what your Google Analytics has to tell you, and how you can use that information to boost your efforts.

REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

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How Blogging Impacts Your Business (And How To Do It Right)

How Blogging Impacts Your Business (And How To Do It Right)

How Blogging Impacts Your Business (And How To Do It Right)

Category: Business Strategy
Skill Level: All Levels
Live Webinar: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 12:00pm ET (9:00am PT) [REGISTER NOW]

If you’re not doing business blogging, then you’re missing some incredible opportunities to reach new customers! Blogging is the core piece of a great content marketing strategy, and it feeds several other elements of what you do to help your business get found online.

Learn not only why it’s important to have a great business blogging strategy, but also how to develop a list of ideas that get you to the things people want to see from you, and how you can leverage that content across platforms in order to get you the most possible traction.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • The potential impacts a blog can have on your business website
  • How to research topics and find ideas that will get you instant traction
  • Tips for how to develop great content for your company blog
  • How to leverage the content for social media and search engines
  • (Bonus) How to use syndication to get your content in front of more people

Upon completion of this webinar, you’ll have all of the elements for building a great content marketing strategy using your website’s blog. But you might be saying, “I’m not a writer!” Well, we’ll talk about that too, and let you know how you can take advantage of this strategy without breaking the bank.

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Complete Backups Guide: Protect Your Valuable Files

Complete Backups Guide: Protect Your Valuable Files

Complete Backups Guide: Protect Your Valuable Files

Category: Client Services
Skill Level: All Levels
Live Webinar: Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 12:00pm ET (9:00am PT)

When you build a website, you’ll eventually end up with an enormous amount of content online. Every photo or other files you upload lives in some space on a server somewhere. And every word of content lives in a database on that server too. And every bit of it is precious content which would be quite costly to lose.

That’s where backups come in. Having a great system for backing up your files and database is the insurance policy you need, in case… well, you know… if something drastic happens and it all disappears tomorrow. Having a good backup in place will allow you to restore everything with a few clicks.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • Basic concepts of what kind of data and files get backed up
  • What Fistbump Media does for on-server backups of your account
  • Additional off-server backups that can be done
  • Best practices for maintaining an extra set of backups
  • Restoring your site when disaster strikes

Upon completion of this webinar, you’ll have everything you need to maintain a great backup system for your site. Consider it your “data insurance” for your online presence!

Promising Results on the Cheap (SEO Case Study)

Promising Results on the Cheap (SEO Case Study)

Many of the small businesses we work with have a small marketing budget. That means when it comes to evaluating the services they spend on, they are often looking for cheap SEO tactics. Not cheap as in worthless, but cheap as in not breaking the bank.

Ultimately, the goal is to get pages on your site to rank in the top 3 positions on Google. Studies have shown that approximately 62% of search engine traffic goes to websites ranked in the first three positions (33% to position one, 18% to position two, and 11% to position three). That means only a third of it goes to the other seven results on the first page. Then things drop off significantly after that…

cheap seo, local seo

Getting results with SEO is definitely an investment. And it’s not an overnight success kind of thing. Rising to the top of the rankings for all of your biggest keyword terms can cost a pretty penny and/or take some time to build the momentum you need.

But there are some great SEO tactics that can help you get some nice traction, without spending a ton of money. This case study looks at work done recently with a client of ours. We’ll break down the work that was done, the results of that work, and explore suggestions we have to drive even greater impact.

The Digital Marketing Strategy, Specifically for Local SEO

The large majority of the marketing budget went towards other strategies (ads, etc). But we kept some regular search engine optimization work in the mix. The reason is simple. Over the long-term, earning rankings sticks better. Google Ads stop delivering the moment you stop paying for them. But if you earn a spot on the first page, then you’re more likely to keep it (at least until someone proves they’re better than you).

But, we had to keep the budget investment in SEO as low as possible. So we focused on what I considered two “must-have” tactics that I believe every small business should be doing. Those tactics are content marketing (business blogging) and local citation link building. Here’s the breakdown of the work we did every month:

  • Local Citation Link-Building ($197) – After running a full citation audit, we would add/update ten online business directories (i.e., Yelp, BBB, Thumbtack, etc), ten geotagged photos, and ten social profile links every month.
  • 1 x Blogger 500 ($97) – Our team of SEO writers would research and find trends to write 500-word blog posts targeting general keyword terms related to the client’s industry.
  • 1 x Blogger 1,000 ($173) – We would also research and write 1,000-word blog posts related to high-value keyword terms we wanted to build authority around.

So for less than $500/mo we were building links and developing a core of content on the website with a focus on high-value, local search terms. We did this consistently, month after month, without fail. And consistency is one of the keys to building momentum with search engine results.

The Results We Saw

The initial baseline report at the end of December 2018 showed a very low volume of total keywords, especially those on the first page. Just one term ranked on the first page, and there were only six total keywords on the first three pages. And while there were other terms ranking on pages 4-10, the overall volume was still pretty insignificant.

cheap seo, local seo

The September 2019 report (nine full months later) showed a very different picture. We increased the number of keywords ranking on page one of the search results from 1 to 10, and the total for the first three pages from 6 to 82. Additionally, the total number of terms ranking anywhere in the top 100 positions on Google increased from 81 to 505.

cheap seo, local seo

While the total volume of terms appearing on the first page of search results isn’t overwhelming, this definitely shows a trend of increasing opportunity to get found. The breadth of keywords fueled by the blogging strategy coupled with the authority driven by link-building is a solid mix for driving visibility.

The Impact of Cheap SEO, and Driving Better Results

This data shows some encouraging trends, however, there are still some big opportunities to improve. Here are a few key take-aways:

1) Consistently adding content and building links drives positive results. This is an important concept in the strategy. These results are what we’ve seen over a nine-month period. If we did a couple of posts here and there or stopped the link building, then we wouldn’t have experienced this kind of success.

2) It’s an active and ongoing strategy. With this latest report, there are 10 keywords ranking on the first page, and only 5 of those in the coveted first three positions. However, our SEO strategies look for low-hanging fruit to push forward, and that’s everything from positions 4-30 (the rest of page one through page three). Those are the terms that are doing well enough where a little boost could bump them higher onto the first page. Looking at the current data, in this case, there are 77 opportunities in this range to focus our efforts to get significant rankings. Time to get to work!

3) The lower budget for SEO means slower results. Cheap SEO can drive some results. Some. But to be completely honest, these results aren’t driving a ton of traffic yet. And at the current budget for SEO spending, it’ll still take some time to experience big impact. Investing more in additional content (I like to see 4 posts per month) and additional link-building tactics (guest posting, content syndication, etc) will drive stronger and faster results.

There’s plenty of good news in this data. But, there’s also still a great deal of opportunity. The key is to stick with it, follow the data, and keep building based on what that data is telling you. Got questions about how a strategy like this can drive more traffic for your business? Grab some time with us to talk through your digital strategy. (Talking is always free!)