Not too long ago, this was an easy question to answer. Companies spent billions of dollars a year in traditional advertising so that they could control what the world knew about their brand. Today, social media, review sites like Yelp, or anyone with a blog and 5 spare minutes in their day can tell your company’s story. What’s important to understand is that some of these sources can carry just as much weight as any content you create about your brand.
Clients are skeptical about the story you tell. They want to know what other people in their position are saying about your company. And, more often than we would like, they are skipping straight to the one star reviews. This means that our least satisfied - the most disgruntled, have the same opportunity to tell our story that we do.
If this is the case, then the solution to keeping your story safe is an easy one – just please every single person that your company ever interacts with, right? Of course this is an incredibly unreal expectation, so how do we take back control of our company’s story. How do we convince someone who is interested in the solution that we provide to ignore the one star reviews that are (hopefully) in the extreme minority, and listen to the story we want to tell about our brand?
It starts with our own understanding of who we are. Have we spent the time to create a mission statement that we believe? Is it the foundation of our company’s culture? After all, if our employees aren’t clear about why we’re opening our doors every day, then how can we ever convince clients to allow us serve them? We have to be honest about why we believe we are better than our competitors. Honesty makes your story more compelling. Honesty draws people in to your brand.
After we have established a reason for being in the market, we have to spread our gospel consistently and often. We can do this through our sales force, by publishing content on our website, and with traditional advertising, but the most effective method is to transform our clients into our evangelists. A company that has been in business for any length of time has to create relationships that go far beyond the initial sale.
Becoming the client's trusted adviser means that you care as much about the client’s success as your own. These relationships are more intertwined now than ever before. Allowing your client to see that you care about their success converts them into something much more important than just another account. They then become your partner and an excellent storyteller for your organization.
Finally, we control our company’s story by drawing clients to us. By creating relevant content that answers their questions, or perhaps even teaches them what questions to ask, we establish credibility as a resource for information. We differentiate ourselves because we are no longer just another company out to win business.
Clients don’t want to be won - they want to be educated and supported. When we demonstrate our knowledge, creativity, and passion freely, clients find us when they search for information, and then they permit us to be the first to tell them our story. If our story is a good one, they allow us to serve them.
- Joseph A Barnes