id you know we’re 22 times more likely to remember information if it’s part of a story? Since more buyers find blatant promotion and even traditional advertising messages to be an instant turnoff, business storytelling works to establish trust. In fact, 81% of buyers say trust is a deciding factor whether they make that first purchase or not.
“Stories form connections, and reveal things about your business and yourself. They're how we learn about each other's values and beliefs. The stories we tell allow others to form a bond with us through shared experiences and values. Your story is your own and no other business will tell one exactly like it. So, capitalize on that and use your stories to stand out in a crowded marketplace.”
- Kristine Shreve, Director of Marketing and Outreach at Applique Getaway.
Wondering how to use storytelling in your shop’s marketing efforts to connect with customers? We’ve got you covered with 10 powerful suggestions on why and how to create storytelling-based messaging that makes an impact.
5 Reasons Storytelling Matters to Your Shop
1. Stories sell better than saying, “We have cheaper t-shirts.”
We like to think of how someone buys as a logical process of listing the pros and cons of your shop vs. the competitors, but it doesn’t exactly work like that. People make decisions based on other more nebulous criteria, like a stronger emotional connection with one brand. Starting with a story might draw a prospect in faster than simply telling them you can provide t-shirts cheaper and faster than the next shop.
“Due to the lack of face-to-face interaction in the digital space, we rely on connections to build brand awareness, reach, sales and retention,” says Keshia Butler-Thomas, CEO of LCK Consulting Services (@keshiabutlerthomas). “Storytelling makes connections feel more personal and creates a deeper level of customer loyalty.”
2. Your story sets your shop apart.
How many screen-printing shops do you compete with? If you’re all talking about similar products and services, you’re not capturing anyone’s attention and setting your shop apart from the rest. Your business has its own unique brand story and DNA that will appeal to buyers. Stories also help humanize your brand by demonstrating how your attitudes, beliefs, and values connect with your customers, and even potential employees.
“The stories you put out there tell others who you are and what you value. People like to buy from, and work with, companies and business owners they trust and relate to in some way. Your stories are an insight into your personality and your ethics and values. If someone wants to find out if they can trust and rely on you, the stories you tell may help them make that decision.”
- Kristine Shreve, director of marketing and outreach at Applique Getaway.
3. Your unique story resonates with and inspires buyers.
Most business owners, including yourself, opened your shop to serve a specific market or support a certain cause for a reason. That’s the root of your “origin story.” Maybe you were in a band and could never get the merch you wanted and opened your print shop to provide top-of-the-line merch to other bands. Sometimes, your story involves overcoming an insurmountable obstacle that people can relate to on a personal level. Other times, your story involves coming up with a totally unique solution or approach to solving a problem.
Your goal is to help a customer identify with your story and come away feeling that your solution will work for them.
“Your company’s origin story allows customers to have a deeper understanding of your overall company’s why. They’re armed with information to make empowered and informed decisions regarding which companies they spend their money with.”
- Keshia Butler-Thomas, CEO of LCK Consulting Services
4. Your customers (and employees) want to be part of your shop’s story.
Since people are social by nature, we want to join groups and communities. When you build a story around your shop’s brand, you “recruit” people to your cause, way of doing business or solving problems.
If people like that part of your proceeds go to breast cancer research or help employ veterans, those are things that will entice them to be associated with your business. Customers may even be drawn to you because of things as simple as how easy you make the ordering process for them. When your story means something to people, you’ll attract loyal customers and employees.
6 Pointers to Write Your Brand Story Effectively
1. Write your “brand statement” first.
Before you write out a brand story, create your shorten brand statement, which includes these elements:
- What your shop does or what you sell.
- How your shop does it and why you’re unique.
- Why you do what you do.
Your brand statement informs your brand stories, which always put your customers and their desires at the center of the narrative as the main characters.
2. You should make customers the hero of their story.
Contrary to what many might think you’re not actually the hero of your brand story; your customers are. They come to you, so you can help them overcome them. Think of your business as that ancient sage or vocal best friend in a movie that helps the main character get over the hump, so they can finally become the hero of their story.
That’s why you need to know and understand who they are and what they need intimately. You can create buyer personas simply by talking to your existing customers or to people in new target markets to learn what makes them tick. Finding out this information will help you write your brand story in a way that customers will be able to understand why you’re the best person to help them become the hero of their own story.
3. Explain how you solve your customer your solutions.
So, how do you get people to know why you’re the best person for their job? They may know you “print t-shirts,” but may not understand how those t-shirts will help them solve a problem or achieve a goal. How do those t-shirts fit into event promotion or as part of a new employee welcome kit? Step in as the expert to show them “how” your solutions look and play out. That positions your shop as the caring expert who truly understands their problem and knows how to solve it. An FAQ section or videos about your products can help people get a better understanding of how your shop solves problems.
4. Stay consistent, cohesive and authentic.
You’ll use your core story again and again. It’s a good idea to write your story out from end to end in a concise format so anyone marketing your brand stays on message. “If the bones of your story change with every telling, it comes off as disingenuous,” Shreve says. “However, don't be afraid to change the order of the smaller details of your story, though, or to tell it in slightly different words. Don’t let your stories become rote.”
Your story should also feel genuine and relatable, without ulterior motives. “The key is authenticity and vulnerability,” Butler-Thomas says. “When a business allows customers to get to know them fully, they’ll capture buy-in.”
5. Listen to feedback about your brand story.
When you put your story out there, you’ll get feedback and responses from customers. If your story totally resonates with them, right on! Sometimes, though, outside input will help you refine or reframe your story. That’s especially true if they’re taking away the wrong message from your story. Reading comments on your social media posts or reviews about your business can also give you great insight into how you’re living up to your own storytelling.
“Choose the stories you tell carefully and make sure you’re very aware of what your story communicates before you release it into the world,” Shreve says. “Not everyone will interpret things the way you do, so take that into account. Your stories give customers some insight into your values, your ethics and what it’s like to work with you.”
6. Tailor your story to different channels and audiences.
Of course, you don’t want to repeat the exact content from your website on social media. Customers have different expectations from these platforms, so fit your stories within those channels’ guidelines. “Social media is a great place to tell your story,” Shreve says. “Instagram requires a story in a picture, so your picture should tell the bulk of the story. TikTok uses short videos, so you’ll need to convey your story quickly.”
This is a good time to consider how visuals and videos will enhance your story. “Print shops should leverage the aesthetic and quality of their work via social media using high-resolution images that capture the appeal of their decorated-apparel projects,” Butler-Thomas says. “Keep in mind that social media is the starting point within your digital brand strategy, and ultimately you want to attract customers back to your website. On social, tease your audience while including calls to actions in your posts to take them to your website where your full expertise is on display.”
Put Your Story Front and Center
No matter how long you’ve been in business, you know that discerning buyers don’t just purchase from anyone. When they feel a bond with a brand they believe can solve their problems, consumers will turn into repeat customers. That’s why brand storytelling is a must, not a maybe. “Stories are a way to form connections and to spotlight what's unique about your particular business,” Sheve says. “No one else has your story, and that may be your secret weapon.”