Customers Love A Good Story

For 19 years I’ve owned and run my family’s business, a local bagel shop where we make our bagels from scratch, boil and bake them in a real oven (not some steam room or conveyor belt oven) and sell them for breakfast five days a week, all over our local area. The business is now expanding our reach by offering nationwide shipping, but we’re still in the early stages of development on that front. It’s a healthy business, and it gives me plenty of time to be with my family and enjoy time with my friends. But over time I became restless with the business and wanted to do more than the bae-gal life was bringing to me. That’s when I began writing copy for clients as a way to navigate myself out of running the bagel business full-time and into my next career.

One of my first jobs as a copywriter was working for a SaaS company in their content department. The content marketing director is the host of a podcast and one of my tasks was to listen to upcoming podcasts and write an SEO friendly summary for the episode’s page on their website. The job didn’t pay too well, but I still loved the work and especially listening to the podcast material. She would interview all sorts of experts. Often her guests were the founders and CEOs or the CMOs and various marketing directors from successful ecommerce brands that were using her company’s SaaS solution. After simply listening to these episodes I felt like I KNEW that particular brand, and if their products fit my lifestyle, I was hooked and couldn’t rest until their products were mine. I bought everything from stylish bluelight glasses to eczema cream for my daughter to daily supplement powders. And most surprisingly, I’ve yet to regret even one of those buying decisions. 

I’ve gone on to tell my friends about many of these brands and share exactly why I believe in the brand, how my life is so much better after making these purchases, and then I get out my phone and text them the website. Not only do I love what these brands have added to my life, I feel like they are my friends in some strange way, and I want to help them succeed by spreading the word as far and wide as I can.

Even some of the SaaS companies she interviewed for the podcast have gone on to be my first stop solutions when I began to grow the ecommerce side of my bagel business and we still use a handful of those softwares to this day.

I’ve become a raving fan, a lifetime customer, and an evangelist for these eCommerce and SaaS brands… And the companies didn’t have to spend a dime to get my money.

This worked because the podcast interviews with these brands took me behind the scenes. I got to hear the voices of the people who worked there, oftentimes the CEO him or herself. I heard about their struggles and how they figured out new strategies, and what it felt like when they finally hit their stride. I heard the very briefest explanation of how they went from idea to development to making sales. But it was enough to make me feel like I KNEW where they came from.

Nothing builds trust like hearing someone’s back story and being able to relate to the struggles in a human way. And nothing builds excitement like hearing how a brand has grown and made sales to all these different people. It’s the most essential form of FOMO… it’s the famous line from When Harry Met Sally:

And it was virtually effortless on the part of the brands. All they were doing was telling their story, their real story of how it all came to be. I bet if you’ve experienced this same connection to a brand if you’ve ever watched Shark Tank or any other reality TV show featuring a startup company.  You hear the origin story, how they came up with the idea, what problem they set out to solve, what the difficulties were in the beginning, how they framed the first dollar they ever made, and then by the time they get to their pitch you are probably already thinking to yourself, “Do I need one of those?”

If the company is selling a baby sleep solution, and you don’t currently, or are’t in the near future planning to, have a baby, you’re most likely not going to become an instant customer. But the next time you are talking to someone who has a baby, and especially if that baby isn’t sleeping well, you are going to be raising your hand,”oooh oooh,”  desperate to tell them about this amazing product you know of, that is going to make all their baby sleep problems disappear.

By the time you’ve finished the episode you can clearly see the intersection of this brand and your life. You don’t even have to be sold to, you are busy talking yourself down from googling and buying that thing this second, and at the same time rationalizing for yourself all the reasons this purchase is a good idea. 

And if you happen to see an ad or a mention of this brand in the coming week? Forget it. You won’t be able to resist buying.  

Stories of struggle and overcoming adversity are that powerful.

You may be thinking to yourself by this point… I have to start a Podcast, or at least start being a guest on other people’s podcasts. And I’ll tell you, that’s not a bad idea. But I have a much simpler solution, and it’s one you are probably already paying for, but you aren’t using the way you could.  

That solution is your email list.

If you’re not using your emails to:

  • Tell your origin story of how you came up with the idea for your product or service
  • Explain what you struggled with in the beginning
  • Introduce that first amazing hire, the one that you now realize saved the company
  • Show the energy you all felt when you finally hit a stride
  • Unpack the case study of your first and second and fiftieth success story with a customer
  • And tease about the new challenges you’re taking on next

You are tossing future lifetime, raving, evangelizing customers out into the marketing abyss with your boring, templated, probably way too busy and spectacularly impersonal emails.

Emails are the single easiest, cheapest and most effective way to build confidence, trust, and affinity in your audience of potential customers. 

“But people won’t read an email like this!”

That’s what you’re thinking, right? First I ask you, are you still reading this blog? Second I’ll tell you… they only have to read ONE of your emails to get all the benefits. They only have to read a paragraph actually, maybe they skip to the ending, or…

They read only the most poignant sentence in your whole long email…

But they won’t be able to stop there. They’ll go back and read the rest of the email, or they’ll click to your website, or they’ll click the next time they see your Instagram ad. Even if peaking their intrigue is ALL you’ve done for this person, if you’ve done it with a story, you’ve done it in an intimate, person-to-person, way. You’ve begun to make that person feel like they know what your brand is all about. They are invested in a way I’ve never seen a facebook ad, or an instagram quiz, or a subway poster, or any other channel acheive, except perhaps really freakin’ talented door-to-door salesmanship. But again… email is virtually free.

If you want to learn more about telling your brand story with email you can visit my website at aaroewriting.com

And if you are still hung up on that bagel shop thing that I started explaining at the beginning… Then I just proved my point again. Check us out at bagelgrove.com

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