Lemay Story Studio Copywriting Guide: 5 tips for implementing storytelling into your marketing
Sometimes, I fall into seasons when I open up my laptop at 9 p.m. and eat takeout Chinese dinner with a fork as I work. It's the reality of being a small business owner: the push-pull of the seasons is both why we chose this path, and why we seek out ways to make our lives easier whenever we can.
Because if you're anything like me, especially during busy seasons, creativity inside your business probably feels like squeezing the last of the toothpaste out of the bottle.
You want to be creative with your marketing, but you’ve got nothing left. And all this talk from Lemay Story Studio about using storytelling with your marketing seems so… fluffy.
Can I encourage you today?
I’m speaking especially to my self-proclaimed non-artistic friends and followers: the ones who say they can't write or draw to save their lives.
Your business is an expression of art – in and of itself – because it’s an output of YOUR work, YOUR creativity, and YOUR imagination.
So please hear me when I say this. All that outpouring of hard work: the late nights eating Chinese takeout and early mornings responding to emails will go completely unnoticed if you never take the time to share what you do and who you are. If you don't start that blog, don't foster an email list, neglect to post on social media. If you keep neglecting those essential pieces of your business, your story will remain un-told, lips held tight, like a manuscript of a novel that never got sent to a literary agent.
So when business owners tell me they don’t have time or money to invest in effective storytelling, I can't help but wonder aloud.
How can you afford not to? How many people are waiting for the solution you're offering to the world, but they don't even know what you offer?
But I get it. You're stuck. How do you get there? How do you get from stale and stagnant messaging, maybe even non-existent messaging, to beautiful storytelling that paints a picture unique to YOUR business?
I wrote a little guide for you!
1. Evaluate your brand voice
Evaluating your small business’ brand voice is important because it will help your entire team (or future team) stay on the same page when it comes to marketing across the board. And the best part about creating a brand voice is this: you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, because you should really just be identifying who you already are as a business and the tone you want to reflect! If you’re a solopreneur who is super casual and works with clients who appreciate how approachable you are, then don’t write website copy or social media captions that sound sterile. If you love connecting with friends over lattes, encourage your clients to read through your project proposals with coffee in hand. Every detail counts, but you don’t have to over-do it.
Your followers and prospects are much more likely to trust you if they can connect with you, which is why storytelling is the best sales tactic. There is a person behind every business, and people want to meet that person before they are ready to invest. Authenticity goes such a long way, which is why you need to sit down and do the strategy work to figure out who you are as a business and how you want to sound moving forward. If your voice sounds different on social media than it does on your website, you've got some work to do! You want to establish trust, and part of establishing that trust is remaining consistent with your brand's "personality."
How to write a brand voice guide for your mid-size company:
If you run marketing for a larger company, sit down with your team and try to personify your business. Think: if your business was a person, where would they hang out on the weekends? Would they be partying at the local pub or outside hiking? Would they be at a networking event or chilling at the beach? Understanding the personality of your brand and business will help you frame your brand’s voice. And if you can, create a voice that sounds like someone your ideal client would want to do business with. Your connection should be in the works as soon as they read the first line of your website (the next tip explains how to write this)!
2. Write a simple one-liner for your website homepage
First impressions are a big deal, and not just in hiring and dating. When someone goes to your website, the first thing they should see is your one-liner; a line in big letters on your website that clearly explains who you serve, and what you do. The goal of your one-liner is to lead prospective clients to think: “Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Hiring _____ will make my life (or business) better.” Take some time to sit down, by yourself or with your team, and practice writing out sentences that are clear and would make sense to anyone visiting your site. Go through each one and ask yourself a few questions: “If someone knew nothing about my business, would they understand the purpose of ______ (buying, hiring, etc.)? Does my prospective client need to be fully educated in my craft to understand what I’m offering? How can I make this sentence more simple?”
The key takeaway here is: if the one-liner on your website is not simple enough for a Kindergartener to understand, you have some more strategy work to do. You only have a few seconds worth of your clients attention to give them a message; make sure the message is clear and concise! The last thing you want is for someone to have to dig for the answer to whether or not you can provide them with what they are looking for. And yes, this even applies to you if you’re in a B2B business!
3. Use your Brand Voice to Rewrite your Website Copy
Now that you’ve got your client hooked, you’re going to want to make sure the rest of your website copy is cohesive with your brand voice. Your personality is what will help people remember you. If you’re not taking a risk with your copy by having an edge with your voice, you’re not going to be memorable. Re-write your website copy in a way that sounds more like you and your business, and less like a machine pumping out empty calls-to-action. What makes you, you? This all goes back to why telling our story is so important.
Take Lemay Story Studio, for example. Our brand voice and personality was curated to have the coziness and approachability of a midwesterner who really wants to get to know you and your business (wink, wink, that's because it fits my own personality). We want our clients to feel like they can crack open a beer with us around a campfire, and we’re not afraid to say that on our website! This is different from a West-Coast based business, for example, that might give off more boutique, white-glove-service vibes.
Are you still feeling a little confused or have questions about how to tactfully write your website copy? Reach out to us!
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4. Incorporate authentic copywriting and storytelling on social media
Have you ever found yourself disconnecting with a business on social media because their posts are always asking you to buy from them? Or maybe, instead of telling their story, they only focus on “we’re the expert” type of content? These types of posts start to feel like advertisements to followers, causing a disconnect in communication — which is the last thing we want to happen for your business!
We recommend you establish content pillars related to your business — or, if you’re the face of your own small business, related directly to your own life. People will trust you more when they see the behind-the-scenes, unscripted moments you’re sharing with them! (This is a tip I learned from the wonderful Kiana Grant, who does this exceptionally well)!
My content pillars are copywriting/web design, Wilson (my dog), traveling, Minnesota small town/lake life, home renovation, and female entrepreneurship. So anytime I’m doing anything related to those activities, I may throw up a story about it on Instagram or jot down how I can post about it later. The point is: the content well created for Lemay Story Studio is cohesive and always leads back to one of our pillars, but there is still room for creativity, and most importantly, personal connection.
5. In a marketing email sequence, implement storytelling
A personal email from a business owner is such a kind touch, and the nice thing is — you can write a sequence that caters to multiple people.
The StoryBrand model, which is the framework we follow, is not limited to websites. Storytelling is just as effective in an email sequence. Because here’s the key: Part of establishing trust with your email subscribers includes telling a story that captures attention.
So in a five-email sequence, we usually recommend that two or three of your emails start with a small anecdote or story about you or your business. You don’t want to head straight into the selling because you need to establish trust! Adding testimonials from previous clients or guests with whom you’ve established a good working relationship shows rapport with future clients. Show them you have worked with other people and have already produced results that have made people happy. Raise their expectations — your work is worth it!
The final email in the sequence can be strictly selling. Use call-to-actions like: “Act now!” or “We want you to take advantage of this offer before it’s too late.” An established action and a sense of urgency is always a good place to leave your audience. They’ve been filled with stories, information, and real-life accounts of results, and now they are ready to become a part of your business journey.
This may seem a little overwhelming, but you can do it. All it takes is a little organization, brainstorming, and your own personal call-to-action steps. Owning a business is a journey, but the journey pays off.
And if you decide you can’t do this alone, I’d love to take part in sharing your story with my website copywriting services!
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Remember: When you tell your story well, it will sell itself.