This conference was especially thought-provoking as the organization celebrated its 60th anniversary with forward-looking programming and thought leadership. I was also delighted that my attendance served as a time to reset on some fundamentals. It reminded me that while we navigate a rapidly changing communications landscape every day, there are fundamentals that haven’t changed one bit.
Here are five fundamental truths to storytelling that are true today as they were 60 years ago.
- Listen first. Without understanding your audience, and I mean really understanding your audience, your efforts will fall flat before you even leave the house. Consider their world first. Work to uncover their motivations, fears, routines and aspirations and strive to meet them at the right time, in the right place and with the right message. You’d be amazed what you can learn from simply listening.
- You may deviate from your B2B and B2C communication strategy. See point #1 and remember that this is about H2H (Human to Human) communication. After all, even business decision makers are human too. Apply the “human lens” to everything you write. Ask yourself, “Is this how I would communicate with this audience if I was talking with them in person?” For an extra gut check, try testing your content in this readability resource.
- Be brilliant (at the basics). Focus on delivering customer service and win customers for life. Keynote speaker Peter Shankman articulated this best by noting “the best acts of customer service are the tiny things that reinforce the customer’s loyalty.” Bonus: look for opportunities to surprise and delight and your loyalists will then become ambassadors who champion the experiences they have with your brand.
- Be brief. “Brevity is the soul of wit.”-- William Shakespeare. Powerfully brief messaging stands the test of time. Look for opportunities to say more with less and maximize the time people spend with your brand.
- Be real. Transparency and authenticity prevail. Engage with your community, shine a light on your customers and their experiences, and if you mess up, own it and fix it.
Having a clear understanding of what your brand stands for and where it's headed, as well as the people you serve, will create a more meaningful and sustainable connection between your customers and your brand. And that’s a pretty great story.
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