From price to unique product offerings, there are a number of ways to differentiate your business in the eCommerce world. But although these approaches have their benefits, chances are that someone out there can match or beat your prices, or that someone is selling the very same products.
That’s why establishing a connection with your customers is so essential. And storytelling is one of the key ways in which you can do so. Because your customers aren’t just buying a product – they’re also buying into an idea and a community.
There’s a reason, after all, why people flock to Apple’s products when they could buy a comparable device at a cheaper price. And so much of it is in the story that Apple so expertly tells.
Telling your brand’s story
When it comes to essential storytelling real estate, look no further than your company “about” page. It’s a key opportunity to differentiate your brand from other similar shops or larger competitors.
Design and tone of voice will provide some initial context for your brand’s story, but it’s the content of your “about” page that will do the majority of the leg-work.
Here’s how to prepare a company bio that wows.
- Share your reasons behind starting your business, and why you run it the way that you do. Exploring your store’s history and approach will tease out your brand’s ethos, ideology, and goals – giving your customers a story that resonates and appeals.
- Take an individual approach. The reason that storytelling has become so key is that customers are wary of big corporations, and want a connection with those they’re supporting. Tell your own personal story, and highlight others involved in the business as well.
- Incorporate mixed media. Storytelling doesn’t have to stop at text. Illustrative photos, video interviews, and short clips are all great ways of creating a storytelling tapestry that’s bound to engage.
- Don’t oversell it. Statements about “changing the world” or “making the world better” through business are ubiquitous now, and it’s easy for customers to become cynical. Be honest and genuine about your work, and your passion will naturally shine through without the need for big claims.
Telling your products’ stories
Your product pages are an ideal place for storytelling. Properly targeted, they can be used to help your customers imagine themselves using or wearing the product – and the benefits they’ll gain from it.
Here’s what to bear in mind when crafting a product description that employs storytelling as a sales method.
- Ensure that your product storytelling is relevant. A story that entertains is well and good, but the key is to help your customers connect to the product. Strive to be relatable, engaging and on-topic.
- Bear your target audience in mind. Identify your ideal customer, and write a product description suited to their needs, interests and identity. Consider whether text descriptions are the best way to engage this customer, or whether photos and videos will play a key role in the storytelling approach.
- Focus on benefits and value, not just features. A well-told product story will show how the product can improve a customer’s life, identify the problems it can solve, and may even illustrate what sets it apart from competitors’ products. Show, don’t tell, what makes your product so amazing.
- Engage other voices. Company-written stories are great, but positive product stories from customers or manufacturers can show another side of your product – while offering validation and support.
- Extend your story beyond the product itself. If your product is made from locally sourced materials, or is part of an eco-friendly or fair-trade programme, highlight these factors.
Storytelling beyond the sale
Building brand loyalty and engagement doesn’t end with the “purchase” button.
In fact, shipping off a product to a customer creates additional opportunities to explore your brand story and develop further loyalty – increasing the likelihood of subsequent purchases and positive word-of-mouth.
Consider the following:
- Use branded packaging and gift-wrapping. From specially crafted labels to readily recognisable shipping boxes, packaging plays an important role in the storytelling process. There’s a reason why companies like Apple have worked so hard to create a memorable “unboxing” experience.
- Include a letter or card in the package. This note can be used to reiterate the value and benefits of the product, or to highlight its roots or origins. It’s also a great way to remind customers of your brand ethos. For example, if you run a socially conscious business, you may wish to highlight how the customer’s purchase has benefited a particular group or community.
- Encourage customers to engage with your brand. Offer opportunities for them to contact you with feedback. You can even provide small items such as bookmarks or stickers that customers can use to show their alignment with your brand.
It's time to start telling stories
From high-level brand storytelling to focused product-level storytelling, there are opportunities for storytelling throughout the entire sales cycle, and the savvy business owner will leverage these as a key point of differentiation.
Storytelling is an effective way to position your brand, set your products apart and engage your customers – all in one fell swoop. If you haven’t yet embarked upon a storytelling approach for your business, now’s your chance.