Tom and Jonathan met in the scuba diving industry back in 2008, those were the early days in digital marketing and they were actively trying to market PADI Instructor Development courses in Bali. Tom had a background in programming and Jonathan, a born entrepreneur, in sales. Together they built a collection of websites that soared to the top page of Google and brought in significant revenue and numbers for the scuba diving business.
While they enjoyed a higher-than-expected revenue stream, their story didn’t end there.
Wanting to move out of the dive industry, and having discovered a joint passion for marketing websites, Tom & Jonathan founded Island Media Management in early 2012.
Like an underground band, their first clients were their close friends. Starting with a small team of only 2 staff (both of which are still with the company), they began building websites and running marketing campaigns for hospitality businesses on the island.
Despite the initially slow growth, the founders always firmly believed in their digital marketing strategies – and they delivered. Their clients saw significant growth not only in revenue, but also in their size. Just like Tom and Jonathan, their clients learned to appreciate the power of digital marketing.
In 2015, Bali’s biggest wildlife conservatory, Bali Safari Park, entrusted Tom and Jonathan to maintain their online assets boosting their direct sales and revenue significantly. Today, IMM is staffed by a team of over thirty programmers, graphic designers, account managers and digital marketing specialists, serving dozens of businesses in tourism, education, cyber security and finance sectors throughout Indonesia.
So that was our story, how about yours?
Storytelling reveals the human side of a business. It lets customers know that behind the brand and corporate scene there are people who genuinely care about their buyers and their problems.
In other words, it humanizes the business, allowing the company’s message to resonate better in the hearts of customers.
By presenting your company’s origin story and some honest vulnerabilities, you are giving signals to your buyers that your brand is unique, trustworthy, and most importantly, human.
Humanizing the brand and business is one of the best ways to rise above all the marketing noises of the modern day.
Humanizing the business
The effect of humanizing a business is apparent in some of the fastest growing companies in the world – with the top 3 most empathetic companies being Microsoft, Facebook, and Tesla; according to Parmar from The Empathy Business.
Sure, these three companies have Silicon Valley origins, which partly contributes to their exponential growth. But this principle of humanizing the business is not far from the old adage of marketing: benefits before features.
People buy with their hearts
The reason why the adage holds true is that by telling customers what their benefits are, you are subconsciously communicating to them that you truly understand their problems and needs.
But, if you simply list down your product’s features, your customers would have to translate this list of facts to a list of “what’s in it for me”.
So, by directly telling your customers how your product’s features can truly benefit them, you are guiding their emotions, which ultimately make them decide as a human being.
Storytelling in the products
Subtly apply storytelling principles to the product description. Rather than just stating the facts on what your product will do, write about how they can benefit from it.
For example, SEO is one of our services. Rather than stating how we do SEO analytics for you (which is true), we say:
Every day millions of people will use search engines to source products and services. If your website is not ranking on the first page of Google (or other search engines), then chances are your competitors will be taking your customers. Well thought out SEO is vital for business success in 2019!
Literally help the customer imagine how his or her pains can be alleviated by using your brand’s products. Keep it short, don’t make promises you can’t guarantee, and say it as if you are suggesting to a friend.
Storytelling in the company culture
Nobody is going to believe in your company’s vision if it is limited to words on a Company Profile page. If employees don’t believe in the story you tell your customers, sooner or later, the story fails, productivity decreases, and product quality degrades.
CEOs often fail to deliver their ideals and vision to their employees’ workplace. As a result, no matter how well employees do their job, they don’t have a sense of meaning in their work.
The painful truth is that when salary is no longer a problem for them, self-actualization is the next one. Think of this in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Instead, encourage honesty and openness between employees, managers, and directors at all levels of the organization. Don’t just enforce the company code of conduct, but also train employees to think a certain way that is both beneficial to them and to their customers.
Honest storytelling in business is ethical and beneficial
Proper business storytelling is not a marketing ploy or a publicity stunt. While large companies will claim that certain actions are “part of who they really are”, in reality people are clever and can see through dishonesty.
Island Media Management has learned from painful mistakes about branding strategies, so that you don’t have to. If you are launching a business from scratch, we’ll be happy to chat with you about branding. Simply let us know.