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Storytelling for Marketers

Storytelling for Marketers

I’ve signed up for literally hundreds of webinars over the last few years. Why? Because I always hope that after investing two hours of my time I will be rewarded with at least one useful piece of information that will help me. Sometimes I get that one gem. Sometimes I get much more than I hoped for, and sometimes I get nothing.

After countless of hours spent listening to people who begin by recounting the story of their life I think I have the formula down. Nearly every single marketer started out in some kind of dire straits. Their story invariably included three elements:

Poverty. Illness. Death.

Sometimes all three. Honestly, had I taken out stock in Ramen noodles years ago I wouldn’t have to work so hard today. Better than the Xerox APO. Much better than buying gold at $500 an ounce.

Just once I would love to hear someone say, “I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I didn’t need extra money, but I decided to try internet marketing anyway. And guess what? I made more money and it was fun!” This would be someone I would be happy to associate with.

It’s very important for anyone trying to establish a presence on the web to convey their personal story effectively, especially marketers. It should be interesting, easy to relate to, and most important, it needs to be authentic.

Most marketers have little or no problem making their story interesting. The problem is that too many of them seem to have had the exact same experience with only minor differing details. When “things got really bad” they would end up having to sleep in a substandard place – their parents’ basement, their friend’s sofa, their car. They disappointed their parents, wives, children and friends by being an epic failure. Then one day, miraculously, they discovered the Secret to SuccessTM that Made Them MillionsTM that they are willing to share with me for a mere $47, $67, $97 or $497 dollars.

Okay, I get that you are pitching a product. That’s fine. I am somewhat more likely to buy that product since I committed to watching the webinar. But some of the personal stories I hear have no benefit to me, I find them hard to relate to, and they do nothing to convince me of the goodness of what is being sold.

Edit, please?

A popular internet marketer, whose products are very good I should add, is so enamored of his own story that he tells it over and over again. Word for word. Verbatim. And the telling of it lasts over 30 minutes! At this point I could repeat his story myself – word for word and verbatim. I am fairly sure it’s not a good thing when a prospective client attending your webinar knows that she can mute the sound for a full 30 to 40 minutes and not miss anything important. Please, don’t change your story, but change the telling of it once in a while.

Define “nothing”.

Sara was recently disappointed to learn that a famous marketer she was following, who always described himself as “coming from nothing”, actually came from a family worth two million dollars. While recognizing that everything is relative, this stretches credibility, don’t you think?

My parents came to the US from war-torn Europe with virtually nothing. They were fortunate to have family members here who were willing to provide a roof over their heads while they got jobs, learned the language and culture, and became model citizens. After they met and married life certainly was not easy. I would claim that we didn’t have enough to eat when growing up but my father was in the food business so that was never an issue. My clothes were all hand made by my aunts, which usually is indicative of modest means, but since my aunts were professionally trained in Europe my clothing was of exceptional quality and fit that could never be found in a store off the rack. My brothers and I went to college; two of us have advanced degrees. College was cheap back then, and we paid for it ourselves for the most part because we started working and saving at a very young age. When we couldn’t pay tuition our parents helped us. My father worked for a shockingly low salary but my mother was such a good manager of their very little money that they were able to buy a house, cars, and take a vacation now and then. In the end, they were well-respected members of the community who imparted stellar values to their children.

I would NEVER say that I “came from nothing”. I came from EVERYTHING. We just didn’t have much money.

My story.

I could tell you my own story of poverty, illness and death and it would be absolutely true. It would also rip your heartstrings out and make you feel sorry for me, even though I don’t feel sorry for myself. (Heaven forbid if you could relate to my experience because then I’d have to feel sorry for you!) While authentic, this part of me is not important for people to know.

Here’s what I want you to know about me: I love what I do. I love it as much, if not more, now as I loved it when I started decades ago. I adore writing and designing, branding, marketing and advertising, creatively communicating and solving problems. I also love that I get to learn something new every single day. After “practicing” my craft for so many years I have reached the Carnegie Hall stage – I’m good at what I do. If we are ever fortunate to work together I am sure we will benefit one another. At the very least I believe we will enrich each others lives just by our connection.

End of story.

Any questions? Call me at 610.937.5187 or write rhonda@contentandcreativity.com.

Instagram Success For Non-Profits

Instagram Success For Non-Profits

In many ways, Instagram is becoming the most important platform for a non-profit, charity or religious organization. Its continually growing membership of 400 million, plus its visual nature, and ability to reach a user’s intended audience makes it easier to reach your target audience than Facebook and Twitter. To be more specific, your followers will see 100% of your content on Instagram as opposed to on Facebook, with an algorithm that favors advertisers. Twitter’s upcoming update will also make it as hard to reach followers without advertising as it is on Facebook. Here are some key elements that a non-profit should incorporate into their Instagram strategy to engage their followers, break into new audiences, and generate more donations and/or volunteers for their cause.

Create an Instagram strategy

When I work with my non-profit clients, I focus their Instagram content strategy around four pillars:

 

Storytelling

This is the most effective way to evoke emotions in your audience. Positive stories evoke joy, happiness, and proof that your non-profit’s work is impacting the world. Highlighting the struggles of your cause and who it affects can galvanize your base. Profile a distinguished donor, employee or volunteer and how they’ve impacted your organization. Both the positive and “negative” aspects of storytelling can easily make a post go viral. Storytelling doesn’t always mean a novella-length photo caption, in fact sometimes a photo says much more than a caption ever could. Choose your words and photos wisely.

 

Awareness Building

Building awareness for your cause is often implemented through storytelling, but that is not the only way. Many causes have a day, week or month dedicated to raising awareness and donations. Deadlines, both real and manufactured, are also a way to encourage donors to act. Non-profits should take this time to educate their followers about their cause, those who are affected, and how a person can help donate their money or time to this issue.

 

Engaging donors, past and potential

Success on Instagram means not only a continuously growing following that you can talk to, but a following that talks back. Instagram has engagement levels that are over fifty times as high as Facebook or Twitter, but you must position your content correctly to obtain these elevated levels of engagement. One way to do that is by using popular hashtags. Hashtags will link potential donors to your content easier. Another way to garner more engagement is to tag other Instagram users in your photos. You can either tag them in the photo caption or the photo directly. Users who are tagged can spread your message simply by liking the photo as well. The explore tab is a mixture of trending tags and photos that are relevant to a user. Tagging donors or volunteers can have your content reach hundreds and even thousands of new people.

Still not getting enough feedback? Ask your followers questions. Interact with the people you follow. The more of the human element you put into your page and persona, the more humans will want to interact with your organization.

 

Raising Donations

As a non-profit, you need to approach donation generation just as a business would treat leads and sales generation. This means that, in conjunction with other three pillars of the Instagram strategy, you also have to employ some subtle sales tactics. Soft selling works much better on Instagram than most other social platforms since the majority of the users are Millennials. When creating a new post always mention how the viewer can donate. If you are taking donations online link your website to your profile’s bio section to take the viewer directly to the donation page. If your donations are from texting out a special code, remember to put that in each and every photo caption. You never know how someone might find your content so remember to list any and all donation channels.

Instagram advertising is still relatively new, but this strategy offers a great opportunity to raise donations through Instagram. If you have previously run ads on Facebook you will find that creating an Instagram ad is very similar, and ads can be created in the Facebook platform. There are a variety of goals you can set and methods of ad delivery, so the choice is up to you on how you advertise and how frequently. A word of advice, start slow and try different delivery methods. A “small” budget is really whatever your organization considers one to be, but I often start my clients off with a $25 dollar ad spend. Once you have tested various methods and audiences you should get a good feel of what is working and what isn’t effective. At that point you can invest more in ads for longer periods.

 

Final word: It’s all about your audience.

Instagram is not the platform to constantly churn out genius-level content on. Although your cause is no doubt a serious one, many users will not react kindly to cold, donation driven content.  Sometimes a post you least expect to resonate can go viral. Listen to your audience. Monitor what they like, and then give them content that they will respond to. That is the key to success on Instagram. Happy posting!

 

Are you part of a non-profit that needs assistance in creating a digital strategy? Are you in search of an integrated marketing plan that can result in a larger audience, more donations and higher public visibility? Contact me at sara@contentandcreativity.com or 610.937.5187 for a free consultation and $100 off your set up fees.