How to Beat the Competition: The Power of Storytelling
Every industry, including yours, finds themselves saturated with competition. It’s growing because our industries are growing. The material handling, heavy equipment, commercial truck, and agricultural industries are no exception to this. So, in a competitive market full of overwhelmed consumers infiltrated by more than 5,000 ads a day, how do you set your business apart? The answer – Storytelling.
You may not realize it, but no matter what you sell, you are in the business of storytelling. The bad news is, if you haven’t taken the time to consider your business’s story, it’s probably pretty weak. The good news is, if you’re not thinking about storytelling, your competitor probably isn’t either. Now is the time to get the leg up by crafting one or several stories for how your business solves your customer’s problems.
Hopefully, you’ve taken some time to think about what sets you apart from your competition. If not, take time to create a list of unique qualities or offers your business has that your competition doesn’t. For example, do you offer a service that they don’t or carry a category of equipment or specific brand that they don’t offer. Once you’ve created this list, keep this information handy as you weave your marketing story.
Every customer, including your customer, is on the defense in regards to sniffing out phony advertisements and too-good-to-be-true marketing ploys for their business. Approaching a customer with this predisposition isn’t easy and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you want to win over your customer, you’re not going to do so by talking about your achievements and qualities in an obvious way, but by addressing them and their needs first and presenting yourself and your solution last.
How can you tell a better story?
Storytelling may not be your strong suit, but we can help! Consider the 5 C’s to storytelling that WordStream lays out when campaigning for your business: circumstance, curiosity, characters, conversations, and conflict. First of all, what WordStream calls “circumstance” we call context. Before your customer can care about what you’re selling, they need salient background information to support why they should care. For example, rather than pushing automated equipment to contractors by giving them a price and some specs, tell the story of the technology’s development and why it will be significant for the future of the industry. Once you have provided this, the element of curiosity is a key element in capturing their attention. You can’t provide too much context that they’re not left wanting more! Lastly, and most importantly, you must have a conflict that your story addresses. If your product or service isn’t solving a unique problem your customer faces, why bother? Again, all traditional stories require this and it’s no different for business storytelling.
Engage your audience’s sense and emotions.
As humans, we all experience emotions and senses that delight us, cause us fear, remind us of our childhood, etc. Playing to the brain and the heart in your storytelling will greatly improve your results. You’re probably thinking, “Hasn’t this been done before? Won’t my customer see right through it?” In some cases yes, we’ve all been privy to the ad that makes us cry and then tries to trick us into an unrelated purchase, but that doesn’t mean your marketing and storytelling should be void of any emotion or creative spin. In fact, when used correctly, these techniques will likely bond your customer to your brand identity in a much deeper way than just giving them cold hard facts. Again, while specs are necessary, coloring your products appeal with a short video of how it’s ability will impact another person’s life can really drive the value home. For example, take the Honda Ridgeline commercial from this year’s super bowl, it’s intended purpose may not be what’s portrayed but as it claims, both big things and little things can make this product valuable.
Meet in the middle.
While we discussed the importance of context to a story, no one enjoys hearing a storyteller drone on about the setting and circumstance of the situation before finally getting to the meat of a good story. By meeting your customer in the middle of the story, or the conflict, then giving them minimal but essential context, your customer will have a greater likelihood of hearing you out and sticking with your story to the end. That’s where they’ll come to find an answer in your product or service.
Bring your story to life with visuals.
We’ve said this before. All forms of media can greatly improve your marketing efforts, and when it comes to storytelling and tapping into your customer’s head and heart, including visuals, or even videos, may stimulate these and raise their interest in your solution when they can see it. Need an example? Say one of the main differences between you and a competitor is that you have recently started including autonomous equipment into your inventory. Providing a YouTube clip of what that particular piece of equipment is capable of will strongly aid your story for selling something so new and advanced.
By marketing your business, products, and services in this way, you have an excellent chance of beating out your competition on the ground and online. We know our dealers are busy interacting with customers and doing everything they can to sell on the ground. But trust us, by stepping back and taking a look at how you market and what story, if any, you’re telling your customers, you can impact the type of customer you’re looking to attract and set yourself apart from the competition.