The following is a guest blog post from KW Brand client, Heather Lowell, founder and publisher of Get Born Magazine
Marketing maven Jonathan Kranz says this about the use of storytelling and marketing:
“Stories aren’t just for campfires and school children: they’re a powerful way for businesses to communicate their value, to create an emotional hook that sticks in their prospects’ imaginations."
Stories can make a business. Yet most businesses remain tongue-tied, not because they don’t have stories to tell, but because they don’t know how to tell them.”
My business–get born magazine–an edgy, mouthy magazine for mothers, began with my conviction that, through story, the full realm of motherhood (that is, every stage and every experience, from adoption to grandparenthood to parenting an autistic, sociopathic or brilliantly gifted child) could be less lonely, and, therefore, less daunting.
As a bona fide evangelist for my product, I surmised that everyone would “get it” if only I could get five minutes of their time. Unfortunately, in the midst of raising four daughters, starting a business, having a limited marketing budget, and then being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, finding five minutes to give to everyone became impossible.
I realized that my business is a classic niche business. I target moms and primary caregivers from a specific demographic and their support systems. I deliver an edgy, unpolished, though sharp product that doesn’t appeal to everyone, particularly not to any group of moms interested in keeping up a perfect image for the public.
We began to work with KW Brand Translation, defining, refining, and appropriately extending both our brand attributes and our brand definition. During a marketing retreat laden with my particular form of compensation—gourmet snacks—my staff, along with Kyndra, fleshed out our focus, incorporating both short-and long-term goals for multi-faceted marketing strategies. At the end, we drafted a marketing plan. Our goals were lofty. We were working on a new website, doing some direct marketing, facilitating sponsored events and launching a social media strategy. Since our marketing budget is modest, Kyndra suggested we approach the “budget” question by filling in the number of hours each of the (entirely) volunteer staff would have to spend for each initiative in between their other jobs as moms and professionals.
And, because such a large portion of our demographic are at home with small children either full or part time, daily conversations (stories—see quote above) encouraging participation was a no-brainer. So we began a “get born” FaceBook fan page effort.
These parameters have facilitated the ongoing stories on the fan page, allowing our demographic to write their story as we write ours. Since the retreat, we’ve watched the FaceBook page grow:
Our website traffic has also dramatically increased from between April 2009 to March 2010 as shown below:
Of course the big metric is revenue. I’ve watched my revenue increase, as a result of the social media activity. Patience seems to be the ticket here since our demographic is leery of a hard sell, and prefers to feel like they’re a part of a legitimate community. But, because our brand embraces a mother’s mental health and her sense of belonging in a community, this approach fits us well.
Our long-term goals will continue to involve a more steady revenue stream through an increased subscription base as well as maintenance and acquisition of loyal advertisers. We plan to continue the use of social media while also branching into both direct marketing and events as our fan base continues to grow and build loyalty. We’re also considering other ways to leverage the community we’ve created.
My advice? The first step is realizing that everyone loves a good story, regardless of the product involved. Because, we, as people, are made up of our stories. Once you’ve established your own story (and believe me, you’ve got one—unless your company is being run by robots), tell it bit by bit through social media, offering tasty morsels of humanity. Then, elicit a response from your customer or fan base asking them to respond in kind. The thrill of social networks like FaceBook is twofold: first of all, people love to see themselves in print, even if it’s online. Secondly, we all love instant gratification, which social networking hands out in spades. When you give your customers the opportunity to interact with you on this level, you don’t simply build a customer base; you build relationships, and in spite of the ever-increasing activity online, all any of us want, at the end of the day, is to be known. The cake is the revenue; the icing on the cake is knowing that you’ve built genuine rapport with real people.
[Note: Heather died in 2014 after a seven year battle with breast cancer. She is much missed and much loved.]
Seasoned Marketing Strategist