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Trade Talk: How Storytelling Can Help You Clarify Your Message and Become a Better Exporter

Customers love a good story. Make your company part of theirs.

When you have a global economy that trades in attention where you’re up against a million competitors, is it any wonder that businesses have trouble getting customers to notice? If only you had a way to get people’s attention.

But here’s the truth: Trying to get your customer’s attention in a noisy and crowded marketplace is a losing battle. Instead of focusing on ways to grab their attention, the key to success is to find ways to keep it. And that’s where storytelling can help.

Story Matters

The world is a noisy place, but stories have the power to cut through the noise and capture your customer’s attention in a way that no flashy ad or sales pitch ever could. The best businesses tell compelling brand stories that speak directly to their customer’s needs and desires, no matter where in the world they live. These stories utilize traditional storytelling elements, such as:

  • Casting the customer as a hero on a journey
  • Clearly illustrating an obstacle the customer-hero is trying to overcome or avoid
  • Casting the business in the role of a guide who has the tool or resource (your product) the customer-hero needs to solve their problem
  • Presenting a plan of action for the customer-hero to follow
  • Calling the customer-hero to action (make a purchase)
  • Warning the customer-hero about the risk of failure if they don’t do something
  • Encouraging the customer-hero with the promise of success

A clear narrative that communicates your business’ story in such an emotionally resonant way, will not only help you connect with potential customers on a deeper level, it will do wonders for building trust and loyalty and, if all goes well, drive more sales.

Your Customer’s Story Matters More

You might be wondering why bother with a story when you have a unique selling proposition. But your USP removed from a story the customer can inhabit is not worth much. It’s just more noise. Story > Selling Point. That’s why some of the most successful businesses in the world have used storytelling to build their brands and attract new customers.

Think Apple. They don’t just sell smartphones or computers, they sell the promise of unleashing your creativity every time you startup your computer or swipe on your smartphone. Think Nike. They don’t just sell sneakers, they sell a fitness lifestyle that you can be part of as soon as you step into a pair of their shoes.

There’s no reason why West Virginia exporters can’t do the same. So, let’s take a closer look at how to use storytelling to boost your sales and grow your export business.

Think Like a Storyteller: Know Your Audience

First things first: telling a good story won’t magically improve your marketing or lead to export success. You need to understand your target audience and what motivates your customers before you can ever tell a story that sells. What problem do your customers face and how can your product or service help them solve it? Aren’t sure how to answer these questions? Contact one of our trade experts to discuss how you can participate in the WV RAISE Initiative and get quality, customized market research reports for a discounted price.

Part of knowing your audience is also considering the culture they come from and being sensitive to the fact that one story may not translate to another culture. It’s best to craft individual stories for each market. That’s where market research can help you.

Market research helps you create a clear and concise story that resonates emotionally with your customers. For example, a West Virginia exporter of handcrafted furniture could tell a story about their founder, who learned woodworking from her grandfather and was inspired to create furniture that was beautiful and sustainable. That’s a nice story, but it’s not the story the customer wants to hear. In this case, the customer is looking for more than an heirloom-quality piece of furniture. What they actually want is something that can be passed down, because it connects them to family and is better for the planet.

Making sense? Here are a few questions to help you think about your business like a storyteller.

4 questions to help you start thinking like a storyteller

Your customer is the hero, you’re the guide and your product is exactly what they need to solve their problems and have a happy ending. Answer these four questions to start thinking about your business like a storyteller:

  • Your product or service is the answer to your customer-hero’s problem. What is the problem and how does your product and/or service fix it?
  • No matter how good your product or service is at fixing the problem, heroes often need help on their journey. What are some practical ways you can position your business as the guide your customer-hero needs?
  • What’s the worst that could happen if your customer-hero doesn’t get your help or use your product?
  • What’s your customer’s happy ending? What does success look like for their story?

The answers you’ll come up with by answering these questions will only scratch the surface, but our goal with this post is to help West Virginia exporters like you see the potential of storytelling as a communication tool that can help you stand out from the competition.

We Help You Navigate the World of Exports

Want to learn more about business storytelling? Contact one of our trade experts and let us know how we can help! We want to help you tell your story, become a better exporter and enjoy business success. Contact us today!

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