The Multiplying Effect Storytelling Has On Your Brand Marketing
Every generation is different from the previous one. Arguably, Millennials and Gen Z’s are perceived to be demanding by business owners. This increased pressure on being transparent and authentic has caught many by surprise.
Impeccable service is no longer enough. They really demand a good story behind your brand these days. The story better be good too otherwise your brand is vulnerable and very likely to fail. The story has to speak to those two generations’ need for self-expression. However, the glass could be half full. If your story drips of authenticity it will attract new customers all by itself. If it’s premises are honest and true, the story will bind these customers loyally to your brand. Reputable sources of marketing nous have always prized storytelling – and they still do.
There are quite a few reasons for that:
– People need a reason to engage with your brand
– Customers need to emotionally connect with a business
– “Plain Jane” doesn’t cut it anymore
– The experience needs to be memorable
Is there a good story & Do you need one?
Promoting products will only get you so far – if you don’t have a story to go with it. Why did you get into the restaurant business? Why should customers believe you are going to do something unique for them? There are several angles you can take.
You can talk how you, the owner, got started. Or, you can communicate your mission via a story. Ingredients sometimes come with a story that is not well communicated. Do you put your food together in a different manner? Is there a reason why you are in aggressive pursuit of excellence when it comes to _____________ (fill in the blank!). Any rituals unique to your business?
Shortcuts to storytelling.
Everyone likes a short cut as long as they get to the same destination. The only thing better than a short cut? Two of them.
Firstly, you can start down the sustainability path. In fact consumers are now saying they will happily pay a large premium for products and services that ultimately benefit society. You have to be careful not to come across as just presenting false or misleading claims in this area. The consumer is a discerning one and it will backfire.
Inconsistency is the enemy. You have to be seriously committed to this cause whilst being perceived to be so as well. The perception part is really important too as your customers think they can tell a phoney from a mile away.
Origin stories are always well received. They give depth to any product. Even imaginary ones – think Avengers! Dressing a roast in a metal suit is not going to quite cut it. However, provenance is perhaps an adequate substitute for building a robot in an Iraqi cave. So, where do your ingredients originate from? Is there a story there? If not, could you switch to an ingredient that does have one? Preferably a local and relatable one?
Besides stories don’t cost anything at all.
Your story can be crafted around your menu. To get your creative juices going, think of the reasons behind everything. How about consumer trends? Plant-based seems to be the rage these days. Is it organic? This one is not going away anytime soon.
How about where your ingredients hail from? Is it close by? Even a relationship – can you lean on the “family business” angle? Actually that is a nice segway for the heritage angle too i.e. have these recipes been passed down somewhat from people in the family. Anything you kept on the menu, or an unusual ingredient that you could add to your foods that have traditional roots.
Packaging is a big deal with the recycling and enviro-communities, that have a growing voice in all communities. Have you thought of compostable packaging? Can you weave that in your branding and make it prominent?
These are all questions that can start the thinking process. Try a few more.
Is there something you created – or have you added your own spin on an existing recipe? Or you could perhaps do it? Once you pop these questions, you can’t stop. Is there an ingredient, an item on the menu that can be turned into something worth mentioning over and over again?
Vanilla doesn’t stand out. You need to focus on any element/variable/factor that anyone else will think is special. However, build the following safeguards throughout the process.
Stay true. Don’t make up fibs or over-extend yourself. Keep your promises. The entire point is to build a feeling of sincerity and authenticity in your customers. If you can really stand out here, you’ll have an unassailable edge. However, even attempts in that direction if well-guided will also earn the respect of your customers.
Don’t be on and off. Be persistent and regular. Take on efforts that you can maintain for a long time. This is not a sprint. Rather a strategy marathon.
Clarity and simplicity is key. If you craft multiple points of difference, they all need to tie back to one thing. Otherwise, an easier way out is to focus on 2-3 variables only instead of re-creating an entire theme.
Relate everything back to your customers. Otherwise, your story will be irrelevant. It has to matter to your customers for them to care about it. They are here to eat and drink, so the story has to be about how something was improved somehow by being different. The difference needs to have an emotional hook and make them feel something.
Once you have done all that, think of it all like a spoke and wheel scenario. At the centre of it is your story. However it needs to propagate on all the social media pages of the business. All the marketing materials need to take heed of this direction. Your menu needs to hold a whiff of this branding. Your staff needs to be trained on how to communicate this story where relevant.
You can develop elements of the story further. Perhaps offer fishing classes and trips if you are a seafood place that has a sense of place, and showcase some of the local fish itself. Feature customers on your walls – when there is a good catch. Or perhaps add such ingredients to the menu, then develop the branding so you can offer a monthly fishing class with a well-known local character. Have fun with it too where possible. It is contagious – and so is a good story!