One of my favorite topics to talk about in my marketing seminars is choosing a target market for your business. I say it’s like choosing your friends; we befriend AND do business with people we like, trust and share common interests, values, and morals with.
Not every single buyer of what we sell is going to be a good customer for us, just like every person we meet is not going to be our friend. It boils down to whether there’s a connection or not. Even if that business connection is as simple as a color in our logo, or a jingle on the radio, a charity we support – or it could even be completely sub-conscious. The bottom line is people do business with companies and people they know, like, and trust!
This point was driven home for me at my weekly Business Networking International (BNI) meeting two weeks ago. Two of our members got up to do their presentations and instead of telling us about their business and their product and services they shared personal stories about themselves.
One of the stories was so personal and so poignant that I struggled to choke back the tears. Her very personal reasons for doing what she does touched my heart so deeply that felt an urge to buy from her on the spot. Not because I felt sorry or obligated, but because I could relate to her purpose.
We came from completely different backgrounds and cultures and had very different life experiences, but her struggles, her pain, her challenges, and accomplishments I could relate to. I felt that despite our differences, we were connected in a very deep and meaningful way. In a human way. And this is what made me want to buy from her; her humanness, her vulnerability, her courage, and her passion that drove her to follow her dream. I already knew she did great work, I had seen it first hand, but her story gave it meaning.
Most Marketing experts will advise you to tell your story to connect with your audience. And I know for many of us that’s hard to do. Our stories are personal and telling them is giving away a piece of us. It takes courage.
But the benefits to your business can be huge and well worth the risk. Telling your story does three things:
1. Stories make us real. We all go to work, mingle, network, and service our customers, putting our best professional face forward every single day. That means we live by the golden rules of business; keep conversations generic and light, don’t talk politics, religion, or sex, and don’t go getting all personal.
By telling our stories, we can step outside of those golden rules a little and let people see a side of us they may not normally see. Stories turn the stuffed shirt professional into a real person and turn us from a business into a person. They make us REAL.
2. Stories make you feel- People love a good story. Why? Because it touches their emotions. People buy on emotion and rationalize their decision with facts. Just like my experience two weeks ago. My emotions were all stirred up and I wanted to buy! Looking back I remember my head going into practical mode trying to justify why I needed to hire her on the spot!
3. Stories build trust– People buy from people and companies they trust and a well positioned story can help your target audience see who you are, what you value, and what kind of person you are- and that builds trust!
The thing is, we have to be professional. We can’t wear our hearts on our sleeves and go around sharing every detail of our personal lives. But a well told and well positioned story that tells how you got started or what makes you passionate about your trade can go along way!
So what’s your story?