The importance of branding is something that all small business owners should be aware of. Branding helps consumers identify the business and understand what it’s selling. The brand consists of the logo and perhaps a tag line that communicates what the business is about.
But where branding falls short is connecting the buyer to the business. Branding doesn’t touch an emotional chord with the consumer. While a brand might be memorable, it isn’t feelable. That’s where your small business story comes into play.
Your small business story tells about who you are and where you came from. It tells why you’re in business, and what your goals are. It’s not just a mission statement. It’s a story. And if you tell that story well, consumers will feel like they want to do business with you. If you tell your small business well, consumers will feel like they’re doing more than just pulling out their wallets. They’ll feel like they’re contributing to something greater than themselves.
So how do you tell your small business story effectively? Here are some things to make sure you do.
If you’re disingenuous, your consumers will be able to tell. You’re not exactly being dishonest, but you’re not being fully honest if you’re being disingenuous. Being honest is hard for a lot of people, particularly if you tend to be a private person. But if you’re going to reach the hearts of consumers, you have to be willing to be honest about your business and its background. That’s not to say you have to tell about every detail of your life. Just don’t do things like pretend you’re in business purely for humanitarian reasons if that’s not the case.
People thrive on details. If you and your wife started out the business in the back of a pickup truck down south, talk about that pickup truck. Was it a Ford? A red Chevy with a Hello Kitty sticker on the back? Where were you down South? A bad area in Miami, or a rural neighborhood in Alabama? The more details you can share about your business origins, the more colorful a picture you’ll be able to paint in the consumer’s imagination. So give as many details as you can comfortably share.
Telling your business story might feel like you’re taking a risk. What if people judge you on your lowly beginnings? What if you lose customers because they don’t like hearing about the business college you went to? But you have to trust that your present and future customers won’t be so narrow-minded to judge you based on trivial matters. You’re asking them to trust your business products and services by buying them, right? So you have to trust them that they won’t turn against you based on your small business story. By the way, what will probably happen may surprise you. You might be surprised at how many people share their stories in return. Many people come from humble beginnings. It’s not only inspiring to hear stories of people who have risen above bad circumstances. It also will come as a relief for many people who may have thought they were the only ones who lived through tough times.
Finally, use images to help tell your small business story. Those old grainy pictures of you behind your lemonade stand when you were 12 will be a charming addition to your small business story on your web site. Every few hundred words on the website, add a picture that adds to the story. Maybe if you mention that your parents lent you the money for your business school, you could have a photo of the two of them together. You get the picture.
These ideas will help to humanize your small business. While you always want to appear professional, you also want consumers to know there are real people behind your business. If you can get that across, then you’ve told your small business story like an author.