There is a big difference between customers and advocates. Advocates are the passionate fans that talk about you and, by doing so, scale your marketing efforts. They are your best and most important marketing champions.What do you need to engage them? Why should they care?
Before you mobilize advocates, you need your *big* idea – your why or core purpose story. Stories are the portable, digestible and shareable amino acids of your brand. Too often, businesses spend more time communicating facts and services, rather than results through the lens of customer successes and our own origin stories (who we are and what we stand for). And there are many types of stories that matter: Your core purpose (why) story and your customer stories are two of the most important.
Here are three very powerful reasons you need to focus on your stories if you want advocates to help spread your message powerfully and passionately.
Stories are memorable. There is just too much clutter today (big data, anyone?). Facts don’t cut through the noise the way stories do. However, facts are important. When you wrap a story around your facts, you create marketing momentum and credibility. Stories are simpler to remember, more compelling, and so much more fun to tell. No one says, “Hey, check out this video chock full of facts.”
Stories catalyze people. Stories inspire customers to act – to buy, to refer, and to evangelize. Stories are inherently ‘social.’ Storytelling is the original social medium; stories catalyze conversation, and thus, facilitate advocacy. Stories invite people to participate and belong to a movement, or share in a narrative. Customers and audiences can add their narratives on to your stories and make them their own. When we feel ‘ownership’ and participation in something bigger than ourselves, it compels us to share. When you have a compelling core story that shows you are committed to something beyond your business, people resonate with that larger purpose. When you find the big idea in your business – one that is far bigger than you – you invite people to be part of that story. That’s when customers become advocates. Without something compelling to talk about, your customers may be loyal, but you won’t catalyze that base to “do” something. Think about what TOMS Shoes, IBM’s Smarter Planet, Chipotle, and Patagonia have been able to do. They created movements. Movements are exactly that – organic ‘moving’ stories that have many owners. That brings me to my next point.
Stories scale. Because stories are universal, compelling, portable, and easy to remember, they are easily shared. This is why stories should be short and powerful to be effective. Facts don’t scale the same way; and great stories scale in reach, number of shares and speed, or velocity. Stories are the social proof – the amino acids— that your networks need to carry the torch. When this happens, your marketing efforts get a boost from the multiplier effect, the degree and speed your efforts are talked about and shared through networks. There is a reason people get hung up on ‘viral.’ Don’t worry about viral; worry about engaging your core audience, your tribe, in a meaningful way.
Stories Engage, Inspire and Move People to Action
Stories are the building blocks of your content marketing strategy. Without them, your efforts will be far less effective. When you tell your why story, or stories of customers whose businesses have transformed by your work, you arm people with ‘proofs’. They enable your best customers to refer you, to champion your cause, and to scale your marketing footprint in ways your limited resources cannot.
Supply customers with compelling stories and you make advocacy easier.
Interested in learning more? Email kathy(at)keepingithuman(dot)com