Guest column by Gary Ingram, chief executive officer, TheDiamondStore.co.uk
Storytelling is an ancient art. Great stories captivate our attention, make us feel strong emotions and can motivate us to take action. We only need to look at the current political landscape to see how powerful stories are, and how, when told right, they can shape opinions, values and entire cultural identities.
It’s no surprise then, that powerful branding is also built on a foundation of copywriting narrative. Struggling to sell a product? Not getting enough web visitors? Here are three ways in which stories can help turn a profit in today’s ecommerce environment.
Stand out in a sea of platitudes
Without the written word, online retailers would not be able to guide visitors to their websites or sell products.
However, we have become so numb to brands claiming their products are the best, or the most affordable, that we tend to take every statement we read online with a grain of salt.
This is why we need to step into our customers’ shoes, in order to create a strong brand message that is attention-worthy.
As an example, let’s say a there’s a jewellery retailer that offers great customer service.
‘We offer excellent customer service’ would be an accurate thing to say. The problem is that everyone says that, so it feels meaningless.
‘We helped John find the perfect engagement ring for Mary and she said yes!’ turns that message into a story. More importantly, it presents the customer, not the brand, as the main character. It makes the consumer relate to a genuine concern – how to buy the perfect ring for their fiancée – and offers them a proven solution to that problem.
Captivate with a relatable voice
Every great storyteller has a distinctive voice. For instance, if you stop to think about Sir David Attenborough’s voice commentary in BBC nature documentaries, it is so memorable that you can probably hear it in your head right now. Attenborough’s skill is not about what he says, but how he says it.
For retailers, being this engaging comes down to brand voice.
Finding a fresh way to talk about the Four Cs can be a challenge in an ecommerce environment. Fine jewellery is a complex topic laden with jargon. It has the potential to become yawn-inducingly boring or even daunting to read.
Researching customer language can be very helpful when creating an effective brand voice.
Here at TheDiamondStore.co.uk, when we looked at the words and expressions most commonly used by our customers in online reviews and social media comments, we found that most of them talked about our jewellery in a very straightforward way. ‘Love it’, ‘gorgeous’ and ‘look at that sparkle’ were some of the most often-used phrases.
We should never patronise customers by talking down to them, but if we can communicate complex topics in a strong voice, they’ll be more likely to stop and listen.
It’s no coincidence that Instagram stories are such a massive hit for brands trying to reach Millennials right now. Why?
Above all, because Instagram stories elicit emotion. They can be fun, they can be interactive, poll customer opinions, help create hype or show people the human side of your business.
For example, we all love to feel special. Letting people have a glimpse at how your jewellery is crafted or packaged gives a sense of exclusivity – all the while allowing you to showcase the quality of your products and services in a very non-boring way.
Storytelling, when done well, can transform the blandest sales pitch into a powerful brand message. To achieve that, you can use any medium you want, from traditional copywriting to Instagram stories. The key thing to remember is not to make your copywriting self-promotional.
As Dale Carnegie said, ‘People aren’t interested in you. They’re interested in themselves.’
So put away the bullet points and product benefits. Instead, make the customer the main focus of your brand narrative, speak their language, solve their problems, and ultimately, create an emotional connection. That’s what a great story does.