Telling their stories: let your customers break barriers for you
If you look after your customers and put them at the heart of your storytelling engine, the rest will look after itself, writes Deeps De Silva.
In today’s hyper-connected world, we are presented with a greater number of challenges when it comes to storytelling. The rise of social media and messaging platforms has meant that the landscape has become somewhat fragmented when it comes to how we communicate.
Recent research from Facebook reveals that out of the 24.3 million people that populate Australia, 16 million are active on its platform. That’s not to mention the 5 million on Instagram, 4 million on Snapchat, and 2.8 million on Twitter.
As marketers, we have had to become experts in all of the social channels and understand the different behaviours of the people who frequent them.
With these challenges, however, come opportunities. We are now able to target specific demographics with a greater degree of accuracy; share and promote content in order to target larger audiences; and use analytics to understand our customers with a huge amount of accuracy.
One thing that these technologies haven’t had an impact on is the importance of putting your customers at the heart of your business’ narrative. This is, and has always been, the most effective way to communicate your message to the right audience and cut through the sea of conversations that are constantly taking place.
Cutting through the noise
Word of mouth is still the most powerful tool when it comes to on-boarding new customers. You only need to look so far as Australian tech giant Atlassian, which has built its entire business without a sales team.
This accentuates the importance of using customers to tell your business’ story. They will no doubt be attending networking events that are relevant to potential customers, communicating on social media groups that potential customers are also active on, and generally mixing with circles of people that will help grow your business.
To encourage them to tell people about your business, you need to put a lot of focus on customer relations to ensure that they are happy with the product or service that you are providing. Regular communication is a must, so they know that you care. But, the backbone of customer satisfaction is really product development and excellent customer service.
If you do that, word will travel fast about your brand.
Telling their story
Customers telling your story organically is just part of the storytelling puzzle, there is a lot that we can do to tell their story and spread the message further.
Sourcing case studies helps you tell your business story through your customers. It’s a way of telling the world about your brand in a way that resonates with the man on the street. It’s difficult, for example, for staff and executives to talk about your product in a way that is true and void of marketing spiel. As such, it’s best to use your customers where you can.
Once you have these case studies, you then need to push them to the right audiences. The most powerful way to do this is through PR and placing them in recognised media outlets. That gives the stories more credibility. Once the story is published, you then can use social media to share it far and wide.
As well as enabling us to spread messaging to the masses, hyper-connectivity has also brought us closer to the people who can help us curate the perfect story.
From a marketing perspective, we have to work with creative people and international teams to build stories and campaigns. Traditionally, this was time consuming, expensive and bureaucratic. If you wanted to have a global marketing brainstorming session, for example, you would have to either pay for everyone’s flights to meet in the same place, or use a conference line.
The latter seriously restricting the visual aids needed to get the creative juices flowing.
Now, we are able to connect with people remotely via video messaging platforms like Skype, and collaborate on the same document, in real time, from different locations around the world with platforms like Dropbox.
A balancing act
With greater hyper-connectivity comes greater opportunity for marketers. We are employed for being able to think laterally and offer an alternative to the linear approach. In that regard, technology has given us so much more to work with.
We are now able to collaborate effectively and pull in resources from people around the world to develop meaningful stories. We can target customers and reach audiences that weren’t possible in days gone by.
But in the heart of all this are customers. If you look after your customers and put them at the heart of your storytelling engine, the rest, in many ways, will look after itself.
Deeps De Silva is head of marketing APAC and Japan at Dropbox.
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