5 Ways to Craft an Authentic Story to Connect With Your Customers

April 14, 2015 Sujan Patel

Storytelling Marketing

Connecting with customers is, in many ways, more difficult than ever. The amount of information and advertising that bombards us daily has never been higher, and the attention spans of the people you’re trying to reach have never been shorter.

But in many other ways, it has never been easier to create an authentic connection with consumers. There are a number of platforms available that allow you to share your brand and product with the world. Getting noticed in the noise isn’t as hard as you think—not when consumers crave genuine connections. When you share your authentic brand story with the world, consumers will be drawn to you, leading to better brand awareness and higher conversion rates.

Here are five ways to get started creating an authentic story your customers will love.

Know Your History

Your brand’s history is an important part of who you are as a company. Even if your company is new, an important part of your identity can be found in the story of how you started your business and grew. Are you a scrappy startup? Are you well-connected with a community that you can tie into? Did you start your company because you have a passion for helping others?

Think about the way we tell stories in popular culture. There’s the hero, the villain, the seemingly insurmountable struggle and the big win against all odds. Can you fit your business’s story into any of these (or other) common storytelling tropes? There’s a reason these types of stories are so enduring in our culture - people love them, identify with them and remember them long after they’ve been told.

When you identify your history, you have the foundation of an authentic story. The heart of your company is what consumers want to know, see, and connect with. Showing them the road you’ve traveled to get from founding to present day serves as both a starting point for this connection and as a mechanism to deepen the relationship you already have with people who are familiar with your brand.

Determine How and Where to Tell Your Story

Once you’ve examined your heritage and discovered the key components that make up your authentic brand story, decide how and where to tell it. This is often dictated by the story itself. As an example, Tito’s Vodka  shares its story as Austin’s first and oldest legal distillery through the use of website branding, images, and social media updates.

When you share the same brand story across multiple platforms, your brand comes across as consistent and genuine. Start with your own website and then move to the online sites your customers value most. From blogs and Pinterest to Instagram and Reddit, there are many channels to choose from when it comes to determining the ideal location for your communications.

Put Down Roots

Consumers value a brand that’s been in one place for a long time, as it sends an unspoken message of faithfulness, stability, longevity, and trustworthiness. A recent study from the Yale School of Management shows that consumers place a special value on products from a brand’s original factory and are even willing to pay a higher price for them.

Even a newer company can put down roots and emphasize this element in their brand story. Your community may not even be physical—it may be a group of people online to whom you’ve proven your faithfulness. But by connecting yourself to a specific community, country or area, you can give the sense of permanence that consumers crave and that helps draw them to your products or services.

Act in Accordance with Your Story

If your story is about American-made products, but you quietly outsource your manufacturing to another country, you risk damaging your brand in a major way if the secret ever gets out. Similarly, if your story is about customer service, but your employees treat a customer poorly, you’ll lose more than that one customer over the offense. Brands that aren’t consistent with their story are seen as liars and cheats, and those actions can sink your brand quickly.

The key to acting in accordance with your story is making sure the storyline is part of every employee’s attitude. From the CEO to the most recent hire, every employee should own the story and attempt to live or share it during every customer interaction.

Keep it Real

Consumers are becoming increasingly wary of companies that say one thing and do another. Too many businesses have slapped a label on their products that says “authentic” or “traditional” without making any actual change to their production methods, company or identity. When consumers catch on, the backlash is often worse than if the company hadn’t tried to be authentic at all in the first place.

An authentic brand story has to actually BE authentic. It should be the story of who you are as a company and why you feel the need to serve your customers. When you share THAT story and live it out daily, customers will become loyal and even share your story with others for you. A positive brand image and sales referrals that come without your direct involvement - that’s the true value of being authentic.

What companies do you feel share the most authentic stories? Share any great examples you know of in the comments below!

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About the Author

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel is the VP of Marketing at When I Work and founder of ContentMarketer.io. He's helped companies like Mint, TurboTax, Salesforce, and others land more customers, make more money, and grow their businesses. As the Founder and former CEO of Single Grain, he grew his business from a bootstrapped consulting startup to a multi-million dollar digital marketing agency.

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