Everybody Writes: How to Tell Your Business Story

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This Old New Business Podcast with Jeff KorhanThis is Episode 09 of This Old New Business weekly business podcast with Jeff Korhan.

Ann Handley is a household name in the world of business marketing, especially with respect to creating valuable content that engages customers with a business or brand.

Using her new book as the foundation of our conversation, we bring writing down to a ground level, first by discussing why people have a complicated relationship with writing – and how to get over that.

We then explore the practice of writing, especially storytelling, and how businesses can use it to enhance their presence online.

Whether you are writing to express yourself in an email or on social media, or writing sales or marketing copy to grow your business, your happiness and success depends on your ability to write well.

So, join me and Ann as we discuss how to tell your business story.

Our Featured Guest: Ann Handley

Everybody Writes: How To Tell Your Business StoryAnn Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a training and education company. In addition to being named by Forbes as the most influential woman in social media, she is also a monthly columnist for Entrepreneur magazine, a member of the LinkedIn Influencer program, and the co-author of Content Rules – the all-time best-selling book on content marketing. Her new book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, will help your business tell its story.

Every Marketer is a Writer

Everybody that sends a text or email is a writer, but marketers in particular are responsible for using written words to convey a message to their community.

In both circumstances, Ann says it’s important to think before you write. What are you trying to say and how can you convey it in a way that is unique to you?

Our words are a stand in for who we are as individuals and companies. Therefore, it’s smart to build the habit of writing. Ann provides a simple formula for getting over any ideas you may have about your writing capabilities that may be holding you back.

  1. Show Up
  2. Practice
  3. Do the Work

Focus Your Story on the Customer

Storytelling is not so much an art as it is a practice of telling a true story well. In a business context, Ann says this is best accomplished by putting your business in the background and focusing on the customer.

Make the customer the hero of your business story. Tweet this

Your business story is not what your product or service does, but what it does for others. Therefore, the focus has to be on the customer. Consider the following for story ideas.

  • How does your product or service help people?
  • How does your product or service shoulder their burdens?
  • How exactly does your product or service exist in the real world?

Keeping your company in the background will help you tell your business story from the perspective of customers, and that helps potential buyers envision their circumstances within that story.

Choose Your Storytelling Channel

There are media channels that allow your business to tell its story in writing, video, audio, photos, and combinations of all of them, such as infographics that marry text with images. Everybody Writes: How to Tell Your Business Story

Whether your business is large or small, it has to choose the preferred channels of the community it serves. If your target audience is male adults from ages 18-34, YouTube is for you. That’s a recent statistic.

Do your research to determine the best channels to tell your business story. You’ll find lots of tips and advice for doing it well in Everybody Writes.

Lighting Round Tips and Advice

Ann’s Top Marketing Advice – Create content as the cornerstone of your marketing to tell your business story online.

Her Favorite Productivity Tip – Get up an hour earlier every morning. It’s a great time to write when your mind is fresh and there are no distractions.

A Quote that has Inspired Ann’s Success –  “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” E.B. White

Key Take-Aways

  • Think before you write, but when in doubt just plunge in and start writing.
  • Forget about marketing as you know it. Just tell better stories that make your buyer the hero and they will tell your business story for you.
  • You can connect with Ann on Twitter at @annhandley or at AnnHandley.com where you can sign up for her newsletter.
  • Learn more about Ann’s new book at EverybodyWrites.com
  • Visit Marketing Profs to learn more about this marketing education and training community.

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How is your business telling its story to engage customers and new buyers?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+

How to Market to Your Audience Influencers

How to Market to Your Audience Influencers - Jeff Korhan

Is your sales or marketing failing to generate the results your business expects?

Remember when you were a child and sought permission from one of your parents, only to have them respond: “Go ask your father (or mother)?” You learned to separately sell both, or first win over the one that influences the final decision maker.

In every selling situation there are direct and indirect influencers. Tweet this.

Our job as sales and marketing professionals is to identify and understand this extended audience, and then respond to their influence with our primary decision makers.

The Circles of Influence Exercise

A useful exercise for understanding your audience influencers starts by drawing a circle on a sheet of paper and placing your business (or business role) within it. Then draw a circle around that and within it write down the various classes of buyers your business serves.

Draw another circle around that one and put in it the influencers of your primary buyers. This could include bosses, colleagues, competitors, friends, family, etc. Around that circle write down the products and services your company offers.

You should start to get new ideas on how your offerings could be better positioned. You may also get ideas for changes to existing products and services, and even ideas for new ones. For example, if your primary buyer is conservative in regards to technology, isn’t it possible their influencers are encouraging them to adapt to it?

Isn’t it also possible these influencers are his or her children, whose names and whereabouts you’ve long since forgotten?

The takeaway from this exercise is that people are often influenced by the people around them, especially those they encounter every day. Smart businesses know this, but even the best of us occasionally fail to consider it.

Make it part of your process.

Acknowledge, Involve, and Help Audience Influencers

In my business as a professional speaker my primary audience is the meeting planner of the association or organization that hires me. However, it is their audience that I am ultimately serving. So, I have to learn as much as possible about them to ensure my presentation or workshop is a success.

These days you can use social media to do research and engage with buyers and influencers alike. In fact, if your business is having trouble connecting with buyers, a reliable method for making that happen is to involve the influencers that can introduce you to them.

To earn their trust, use your media to learn about the problems audience influencers may have. For example, while I help businesses with their content marketing and social media, I know for a fact that many of them have children that need the same help – building their personal media brand to help them get into college or land a new job.

That was my insight after doing this exercise. Now I’m working to determine specifically what to do about it. How about you?

Do you think helping the people that your customers want to help is smart business? Me too.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+

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