How to tell your business stories and why you should

Today when it’s easier than ever to reach your exact target audience, digital media gets more crowded every day. The brands that are winning at marketing are no longer necessarily the ones with the biggest coffers. They’re the businesses telling the most authentic, compelling story about what they do. They’re telling stories that stick.

If you consistently offer a clear, concise and memorable message about your product or service, you’ll stand out in a crowded online marketplace where everyone else is also screaming for attention.

A brief story

A story from one of my healthcare clients illustrates the power of a good story. A dietary employee of a residential facility struck up a conversation with a WWII veteran and found out that he had never received the service medal he had been promised. The employee was passionate about veteran’s affairs and reached out to the local Department of Veteran Affairs. A few weeks later, this WWII Navy hero got the recognition he deserved in a ceremony that included veterans riding in on motorcycles and several local news media.

The miracle here wasn’t that he got his medal after 73 years. It’s that the story made it into the company’s digital marketing. Why? Because stories are happening every day in healthcare businesses, but most of them are never told.

Create a storytelling culture

It might sound like a conundrum, but key to getting your business stories told is telling stories. At my healthcare client, we had been telling stories about patients and employees for six months before the dietary employee submitted her own story. And because she did, we were able to send out a press release before the medal ceremony. She felt empowered to submit a story because she had seen that she works for a company that values these individual stories.

The company stories do more than just stand out in customers’ minds. They make employees feel proud of the place they work and empowered to make a difference. Working in a healthcare cafeteria no longer means just serving or cleaning. It means providing healthy food to help people heal in order to improve their lives. The people who pass through the kitchen become actual people–with real stories and an opportunity for connection.

How do you start collecting stories? Ask for them. Many businesses, in all industries, instruct their managers to begin every shift asking the group for stories employees would like to share.

Think you don’t have time for that or it sounds corny? Ritz-Carlton co-founder Horst Schulze doesn’t. He instructed the teams to spend 10 minutes a day collecting stories that reflect company values. The result was that reading and sharing the stories inspired other employees to create their own.

Questions you can use to collect stories

You can email your team periodically and ask them for stories about customer satisfaction, exceptional service. Try asking your team the following questions:

  1. Was there a time this week you were especially proud to work here?
  2. Did anything happen that you felt made a big impact in a client’s life?
  3. Did a client or a colleague give you any useful feedback this week?
  4. If you could recognize one colleague for exceptional service, who would it be and why?

The stories you gather simply by asking for them will build your reputation and create a culture where your employees are proud to work.

📧 Want to gather stories but don’t have the time? That’s what we do. Let’s talk!

3 common pitfalls in website copy and how to avoid them

When it comes to your website copy, you have only about 3-5 seconds to grab the attention of a new visitor. Of course, there are design element that are crucial in making your website optimal for users, but the content is key. Your viewers need to effortlessly understand the product or service you offer and why it is right for them.

Whether you’re developing a new website this year or reworking your copy, there are three common mistakes small business owners make in homepage website copy. This is especially common among small businesses that offer services.

Let’s break that down.

Your website copy must be simple

It’s a good idea to always assume the visitors to your site are busy, distracted and in a hurry. Because they are. Like it or not, this is the reality for most internet users today, so the onus is on the business owner to grab their attention. What is the service or product you offer? Can your viewer understand that offering without having to think about it? The second a viewer can’t understand what your service is, you’ve lost them. As in, they’ve literally gone from your site and likely won’t return.

This might seem obvious, but businesses that offer many services can have a hard time summing up what they offer in a simple structure. But, no matter how complicated your services are, you still need one simple brand statement that sums up what you do. That simple statement should appear in big, bold letters above the fold on your site. Check out this starter kit to help you develop your simple statement.

You can include the details of all your services in other internal pages on your website because there are of course viewers who will want all the information on what you offer. But, keep your website homepage copy really simple for all your new visitors who don’t already know, like and trust you.

Don’t focus on yourself in your homepage copy

Take a look at your homepage and make sure it doesn’t read like an “All about me” page. This is especially common if you offer services, like counseling or creative services. Small business owners will start out in business because they are an expert at what they offer, and then their website homepage will read more like a resume.

Don’t get me wrong, much of this content may be important, but it doesn’t belong on your homepage. Focus instead on what you offer, how people can get it and why they should want your version of it.

Address the problem your audience has and how you can solve it

Website visitors typically comes to your site with a need. Your homepage should directly address the problem that they have and explain that you are the perfect business to solve it.

You can get to the heart of this by putting yourself in your viewers’ mindset. What are the questions they commonly ask you? Where do they start out when you typically first meet them. Your homepage content should speak to them where they are at. Acknowledge the problem they have, let them know you understand it, you’ve seen this before and you can make it better.

Now, be sure you make it really obvious to the user how they can work with you and benefit from your services. this may seem obvious, but it’s a mistake that small business owners offering services often make.

Once you simplify your site, focus on your services and your potential audience, you will all set to capture the attention of your audience.

How to Write a Blog Post in 1 Hour

Writing is a little like riding a bicycle. 🚲 Bear with me here. 

If you once knew how to write decent papers in college or documents for a job you once had, you can learn again. You’ll feel completely rusty at first, but you have to just get back on and start writing (or riding?). Take a few turns around the block, literally, to think and then sit down to put your thoughts on paper. 📝 It may not sound perfect at first, but writing is a muscle that improves with time. 

With practice, a 500-word blog post should only take you about an hour.

And blogging today is meant to be more informal (my English teachers would have never allowed that “and” at the beginning of this sentence), so don’t get hung up on worrying about grammar and perfect sentence structure. If your grammar is really rusty, though, check out a tool like Grammarly to help you out.

Why you should start out writing some blog posts

Why bother? Because only you tell your story really well. You know why you started your small business or are motivated to SHOW UP in your nonprofit. Your target market needs to hear you tell them YOUR why. Even if eventually you hire a writer, having a hand in the writing process at the beginning will set your business up for better success later. You’ll have a sense of what your audience appreciates in blogs on your website and what it takes to get them posted. Then, instead of just handing over the keys of an important asset in your business, you’ll be able to provide guidance and supervision.

Still not convinced you have time to write? No problem. Hire us, and we’ll do it for you.

But if you are committed to trying your hand at blogging, here is how you can master this skill in one hour. Give yourself more time at the beginning, while you’re still honing your skill.

Step-by-step guide to write a blog post in 60 minutes

Step 1: Before you can even get started writing a blog post, you’ll want to have your idea already formed and written up in a short abstract. You should have done this with a bunch of ideas in bulk by content batching. Read how to do that here.

Step 2: Add a big, attention-grabbing idea at the top. You likely can pull this from your abstract as well.

Step 3: Add a numbered or bulleted list that explains your big idea. Having your blog set up in a lists, such as tips or reasons for your big idea, are make blogs easier to read and write. Readers can scan your content better and are more likely to stay on the page if the blog looks useful at first glance.

Step 4: Research an expert opinion that shows your point is supported by others. You can link directly to that website or article.

Step 5: Include a call to action for your reader at the conclusion. This might be simply your contact form, a freebie you’re offering or another related blog they can read. Closing with a question for them to comment in the bottom or on social media is a great way to end.

Step 6: Fill out the information on steps 2-5 into a more robust idea and before you know it, you’ll have a solid blog.

Once you’ve written your blog post, walk away from it for a few hours or days and then return to edit it with fresh eyes. You’re more likely to catch any careless mistakes this way. You can also hire a proofreader at a really reasonable rate on a site like Fiverr.

Next up I’ll be posting ways to make your content more engaging, so for now, write on. And ride on. 🚲

Let me know if this blog post was helpful for you! Leave a comment or send me a message over on your social channel of choice.

Oh! And if you still don’t want to write? No problem. Hire us, and we’ll do it for you.