Remember the old saying: Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door? Or, an even more recent one: If you build it, [they] will come?

That’s not really true, is it?

Today’s businessperson knows that you can build an amazing product (or offer an amazing service) and nobody will automatically come knocking on your door. You have to find customers and convince them that your product or service is the one they’ve been looking for.

How do you help them choose your business instead of someone else’s?

You tell them a story!

Once upon a time…

No, not that kind of story! Your company has its own story (or should) that describes how it came into existence, what it means to work with your company, what your company stands for and believes in. Your story may be one of durability and reliability, or one of social conscience, or one of cutting-edge innovation, but no matter its theme, it’s a tale that helps you connect to and with your customers.

What makes a good story?

Stories create trust

Your business’s story helps potential customers understand you and invites them to trust the products or services you offer. Many small businesses unconsciously embrace that kind of storytelling when they include phrases like “proudly serving the community since 1995” or “helping customers for three generations”. The amount of time you’ve been in business is one way to convey expertise; we trust businesses with a track record of success.

Stories need personality

Your business is an entity, but it has its own character and personality. That personality is reflected in the culture you’ve built, from where and how you choose to donate time and money to your approach to winning and losing business. Some businesses have a “win no matter what” personality, while others have “do good always” attitude. Your business’s story will reflect that personality.

Stories are about personalities, not a collection of adjectives or buzzwords. Which consulting firm tells a better story?

  • We strive to maximize our clients’ productivity with innovative thinking.
  • We’re the sharp-dressed leader in the room to whom everyone turns for an answer, the one who is solving problems down the road and around the corner, the one who ups everyone’s game, the one who inspires confidence and trust.

The first has a great mission statement, but it doesn’t feel particularly unique. Don’t all consulting firms attempt to do this? The second, however, paints a picture by turning the company into a character that we can connect with. It feels fresh and edgy and I’m ready to take a meeting with this company!

Stories should be simple

In the beginning, there was a problem. Here’s how you solved it. And this is how it was successful.

That’s a pretty straightforward story, which means it’s easy to remember and easy for a prospective customer to see themselves within it. Your story may unfold quite naturally using that formula: the mousetraps on the market were ineffective in catching today’s savvy mice. You decided to approach the problem differently, creating a new approach to the problem of mice catching, and now people are using your better mousetrap everywhere and you’re excited to apply your new approach to other rodent-catching problems.

This case-study approach to storytelling shows off your expertise, the happiness of those who take advantage of your products or services, and leaves the door open to future innovation.

Stories answer the question: why should I buy from you?

Brand stories are hugely important when your product or service is virtually identical to the products or services your competitors sell – especially if yours costs more!

Cup of coffee

Say you sell high-priced coffee. If it costs more because it’s fair-trade, with a portion of every dollar going to support skill development in coffee-growing regions, it’s served in compostable cups, and you donate your coffee grounds to community gardens to improve soil, then you’ve got a great story to tell to explain your pricing, and you can easily demonstrate the value of the price differential. If social issues matter to your customers, they will pay more to get the feeling of doing good while getting a great cup of coffee. Your company is doing good with every cup, and that is the core of your brand story.

Stories connect brand to customer, inviting them in

The example above, about doing good with every cup, helps connect customers to the business. That story invites me to spend an extra buck-and-a-half for a cup of coffee that will have a positive impact on the world, which is a feel-good story. Without much of a behaviour change on my part, I’m impacting the lives of people nearby as well as those in developing nations. I’m part of their success story!

The best brand stories invite us to become part of the brand, not just a consumer of products or services. And that doesn’t have to mean appealing to our sense of social conscience. Maybe you drive a car with a super safety rating because the safety of your family is critical to you, and you chose a brand that reflects that value. Or I eat at the mom-and-pop restaurant that still uses “Mama’s” pasta sauce recipe because I value tradition and authentic tastes.

When a brand story resonates with your clients, they are more likely to become an ambassador: they tell their friends, rate the business on Google, share it on social media, tag you in their social posts while using your products. That’s amazing free advertising for any business! A customer who has embraced your business to that degree is likely a lifetime customer – and unpaid salesperson!

Putting the pieces together

How well is your business doing at telling your story to the people you want to become your customers? Are you helping them to understand what matters to you, why they should place their trust in you? Are you inviting them in to become part of that story? Are you using that story as the basis for your marketing efforts, making sure that the story and the product and service are consistent?

What’s our story?

Unrivald Digital is the smart friend who never makes you feel dumb. We’re the star employee who anticipates what you need and makes you look better and more prepared in front of your clients. We’re the agency moving at your speed, adapting to change, being nimble and rolling with the punches. We’re the straight shooters who treat your small business the way we want our small business to be treated.

Our agency was formed by highly experienced digital and marketing folks who recognize that small- and medium-sized businesses are struggling to grow their businesses because the don’t have the in-house expertise to get them where they need to go.

More importantly, we address the flaw in the way most agencies offer services: complete a high-priced solution and move on. Our service is offered on a subscription basis, solving the cost issue for business while offering ongoing support and expertise over time. We’re the marketing team at the end of the phone, dialling up or down our service when you need us.

Our goal is to move at the speed of our customers: adapting to change, being nimble, rolling with the punches. We also believe in managing technical complexity on our clients’ behalf so they can focus on their businesses. We deliver best practice, custom online solutions that meet our customers’ needs – and we stick around as their needs evolve.

Check out Blair on YouTube for a bit more of our story.

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Struggling to balance Donut Day posts with your client stories, product descriptions, and other sales-focused social content? We’ve got you covered. Download our ultimate guide to making social holidays work for you.

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Gary Pitcher

Web Developer

Gary has forgotten more about technology than most of us will ever know. He’s worked in dozens of industries in a wide variety of roles and solves difficult problems recreationally. By the time you’ve formulated your question, Gary already has an answer, which would be annoying except he’s so darned nice about it.

Adrian Proctor

Web Developer

When you put Adrian behind a keyboard, magic happens. On stage, that means he’s making music. At work, he’s bringing website designs to life. Adrian is probably the quietest member of the Unrivald Digital team, but when he speaks, we all listen because we know he’s got something important to say.

Thiago Aragao

Digital Marketer

Thiago is all about visual and aesthetic. He loves to design with purpose and believes that every piece of design has to have a shape, a meaning, and a function. His claim to fame on the team is making everything look better than expected. He’s humble but takes pride in knocking every project out of the park.

Taylor Matheson

Account Manager

Taylor is our resident extravert. She’s an ace relationship builder, and a clever ad writer, which means she becomes a trustworthy partner to our team and our clients alike. She believes that relationships and a strong focus on the desired outcomes makes for more effective marketing with more meaningful results.

Shaheen Bhimani

Director

Shaheen is the guy you want in your corner when you’ve got a complex problem to solve in the next 15 minutes. He’s part MacGyver, part Tony Stark and part while still being the nicest guy in the room, hands down. His soft-spoken, down-to-earth vibe and ability to deliver makes him a client favourite.

Blair Shunk

Founder

Whether leading a meeting, riding his motorcycle, or running in the Banff Jasper Relay (for which he was Race Director for many years), Blair connects with the world around him. He inspires his team to work hard while never forgetting the value of the relationships he builds with clients.