This is the second post in a three-part series on using storytelling to market your business with video.
Chiselling your brand into the consciousness of customers is probably one of your top priorities as a small business owner or entrepreneur.
It’s never been more crucial in today’s hyper-competitive commercial environment in which shoppers increasingly look to that great oracle—the Internet—to tell them where to find what they need.
In our previous blog on storytelling for business, we touched on ways to begin the process of identifying stories that will build digital bridges to your customers. This blog takes it one step further by helping you find the stories to build your content portfolio.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs who dabble in video marketing but give up prematurely do so for primarily two reasons:
1) An inability to keep up with video production
2) Difficulty finding enough stories to stay consistent with content creation
Those who struggle with coughing up stories for videos each month will naturally huff and puff to keep churning out sufficient content. Remember, consistency with video marketing is what builds brand recognition and stimulates income growth over time.
There is, however, no need to panic over where you’re going to find stories to power an effective marketing strategy.
This blog will explore some of the places where the building blocks of your video stories can be found. Some will seem slap-yourself-in-the-face obvious. Others will feel like a revelation. Either way, by the end of your short journey into story-discovery, you’ll have several sources of inspiration for your videos.
So, let’s dive in!
Create a Dear Business Diary
A business diary will sound a little hokey. Give it a chance, though.
Remember, this isn’t about finding one story for your business, but consistent storytelling to build and sustain audience engagement over the long term.
That’s where a business diary comes in. It’s just like the diary you had when you were a teenager and hid under the bed away from your intelligence-gathering parents. This one, however, won’t detail weepy teen romance travails, but accounts of all the developments and milestones of your business.
Set aside half an hour each week to chronicle interesting moments that define your business.
If you’ve created a piece of software or a particular product, you can jot down in your Dear Business Diary the gestation stages of the idea, the steps you took to develop your product, that one day you smashed everything in sight in frustration, and the day the product was finally perfected.
These are insights rarely viewed by the customer. It can show them a profile of a product or service as its being created by one person to help another. This is in stark contrast to products offered by faceless corporations that seem to say you need me more than I need you.
The information in your diary needn’t be written in detail. It’s just to provide a helpful reminder of incidents or events in the life of your company that define what you’re all about. This diary can act as a well from which you will draw from time to time to create compelling stories to reel viewers in.
This way, there’ll be no hand-wringing on each occasion you need to create a new video. The seeds of stories will be right there when you need them.
Mining moments of inspiration
You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who isn’t moved by an inspirational story.
In essence, we’re all just working to succeed in one way or another on this giant rock in space. Some people make it look easier than others, but we can all use a bit of inspiration to give us that extra push to achieve our goals.
If you can build video content around stories of breakthroughs you’ve had in your business or in the development of your product or service, you’ll find a ready audience for that sort of material.
Here’s an example of inspiration at work in storytelling.
A software engineer is having a particularly vexing problem with a client’s networked data storage system. He has tried every fix, patch and component swap he can think of. Just as this normally level-headed, mild-mannered software engineer is about to chuck the job in frustration, he has a breakthrough.
While going through notes on old jobs, he discovers a similar, albeit, less complicated problem in the past. And just like that, it dawns on him all he needs to do is scale up the solution he applied on the old job to his current client. This story shows that, at times, we all encounter stumbling blocks but we just have to keep pushing through.
Your inspirational stories don’t always have to be business-related. If you believe you have motivational gems that help folks get through tough days that can also valuable to viewers. Providing inspiration adds value to the content you offer viewers.
This is the kind of stuff you can jot down in your business diary.
The lessons of failure
Failure in our professional lives is, for many of us, the sort of thing we want to turn our backs on. There aren’t many people who want to remember their slip ups or share them with the rest of the world.
In storytelling, however, reminiscing on our failures provides a strong pull for audiences.
Every human alive today, whether a regular nine to fiver or a Fortune 500 scion, confronts failure at some point in their lives. In many ways, failure is a chapter in everyone’s story. Sometimes it fills a few chapters!
Some of the most recognizable business titans built incomparable legacies on their failures. Legendary tech titan, Steve Jobs, had a huge helping of humble pie when he was stripped of all responsibilities in a company he founded. He dusted himself off and went on to chisel his name in history by contributing to a global tech revolution.
McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, was a 52-year-old struggling salesman when this fast food behemoth first became a twinkle in his eye. It wasn’t an overnight hit either.
These victories are immortalized because people like nothing better than a story of someone who emerged from certain defeat to claim success.
Far from being a source of shame and embarrassment, failure is storytelling gold for your videos. Again, these are incidents you can write down in your business diary.
You may have heard the term “breaking down the fourth wall.” Basically, it is the practice in theatre or film of breaking the illusion of a boundary between the audience and the actors by addressing the audience directly.
By incorporating customer stories into your video marketing, you are breaking down your own fourth wall.
Customers can share their stories via recorded videos or you can relate on camera the experiences they’ve emailed to you. These videos can form part of a community of online resources.
Now, it’s important to make a distinction between customer stories and customer testimonials. Customer stories needn’t always be testimonials about your product or service.
Let’s say you’re an early childhood education specialist turned stay-at-home-mom. Your time in the spaghetti-o drenched trenches has given you insights into raising well-rounded, intellectually-stimulated kids. You’ve created a series of e-books to help parents raise healthy, happy children who can live up to their full potential.
In sharing the techniques, frustrations and funny anecdotes of other parents, you create an online community of support rallying around your e-books.
So, look for ways to break down that fourth wall. It will relieve some of the pressure to come up with new stories to feed your video marketing strategy.
Social media, blog and video comments
Sometimes we tend to overlook as useful sources of content inspiration the very people who consume our videos, blogs and social media posts .
Over the years, quite a few of the videos we’ve produced were born out of comments on our websites and social media pages. It’s one of the truly beautiful benefits of maintaining those two-way conversations with your audience.
This technique of idea mining works. In sifting through the comments of your audience, you can build some of them into a framework for your next video story. While you’re at it, go ahead and trawl through the feedback on video and blog posts of your competitors for some creative ideas.
Granted, not all online comments are going to be gems. The idea, though, is to ignite those imaginative fires with the spark of useful comments in the Internet omniverse.
The “out-of-many comes one approach” to content creation
This is a philosophy that runs like steel rebar throughout our video marketing books and courses; break up meaty topics into multiple pieces of content.
Many small business owners and entrepreneurs getting into video marketing try to cram all their messages or stories into one video. That’s a common mistake.
A marketing video isn’t meant to be a compilation music album. When there’s too much information to digest, the viewer walks away retaining little or nothing for the time invested in watching your video.
Rather than merely criticise this tendency as one of the deadly sins of video marketing, we like to look at it as an opportunity.
When sitting down to sketch out an idea for a video and those creative juices get flowing, it’s easy to get carried away. Rather than edit yourself, just keep writing. Then review what you’ve written, pull out all the extras and turn them into separate videos. In other words, instead of forcing too much information into one video, spread it out across five videos.
This approach results in more content that’s easier for the viewer to digest and retain. This is an excellent technique for keeping your website and social media pages fresh with updated content.
Ask your followers and viewers
The idea of a small business owner or entrepreneur turning to viewers may seem counter-intuitive. After all, you’re the expert in your field, not them! Your main mission is to portray yourself or your company as the mountain top where all knowledge worth having can be obtained.
Even the most grizzled sage, though, isn’t born knowing everything. Additionally, reaching out to folks who watch your videos means your content will be more laser-targeted.
You can send out emails to ask viewers what they would like to see. Maybe you own and operate a growing health and nutrition company. Reach out to your audience and ask them, for example, what areas they struggle with most trying to stick to healthy lifestyles and wholesome diets. Based on their responses, you could create videos that cater specifically to a struggle they’ve shared. When it comes to video content, that’s the most effective kind there is.
Customer surveys might sound old school in the age of instantaneous social media feedback. The concept was developed 14 years ago as a method of testing brand loyalty. It emerged in various forms—suggestion boxes, opinion forms, customer satisfaction questionnaires, et cetera.
In the context of creating video marketing content, the customer survey is a great way of drafting customers and clients into the process of coming up with your video stories. Such surveys are like being handed a torch while you’re feeling your way around in the dark.
Some video marketers create content in the hope the topics they choose will find interested viewers. Video content informed by the responses from customers surveys allows you to target audiences more accurately.
Here’s what one customer survey could look like:
- What led you to our product/service?
- What was the one thing that made you choose our product/service?
- How does it compare to similar products/services you’ve used in the past?
- Is there anything that could enhance or improve our product/service?
- What are some of the biggest challenges you face?
The great thing about this info-gathering technique is you should be doing customer surveys periodically anyway to monitor changing market conditions or emerging trends. Through this method, you get critical data to plot the course of your business as well as ideas for your marketing videos.
Mine online communities and groups
No matter how much you know, there’s always someone out there with an angle you may not have considered.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, it’s easy to get locked into your own head. Getting caught up in what you do and, consequently, how you put together your video marketing content can become a solitary process. This is particularly true if you’re a one-man/woman band.
Thankfully, there are countless online communities that can take you out of your head and into the real world where diverse groups are discussing everyday problems and sharing possible solutions.
In the world of technology and social media, the tide can turn very quickly on you. Consequently, it pays to stay on top of all the intelligence chatter out there. A happy by-product of all this industry ‘surveillance’ is loads of story content for videos.
Use the Google Keyword Planner
Google can be an invaluable tool in pointing you in the right direction for story ideas.
The Google Keyword Planner is a great resource for coming up with serviceable video stories. By typing in words or terms related to your business, this prompts other keyword suggestions that can help you conjure up topics for your videos.
A keyword, in simple language, is a word or phrase used in online content to help browsers find what they are looking for in Google and other search engines.
Nothing’s wrong with writing content hinged on your own stories. However, having your video stories inspired by topics online browsers are actively searching for gives your content a better chance of hitting the right notes with your desired audience.
Scour Google for trending topics
Don’t step away from Google just yet.
Google Trends is another invaluable tool provided by this powerhouse search engine. Think of it like news pages but specifically for folks interested in taking the temperature of the Internet and finding out what’s hot among browsers.
Google Trends allows you to measure the pulling power of specific topics with online audiences. It’s fairly straightforward to use, you simply type in your subject and a graph display will spell out the performance of that topic over a specified period.
Much like using the Google Keyword Planner, this is another method of targeting to ensure you find the most receptive audiences by searching out topics in which they’ve expressed an interest.
Using Google Trends to identify hot, trending topics is like catching an already existing wave. You don’t have to worry too much about creating your own momentum, it’s built into topics already attracting attention. When it comes to using Google for story mining, it’s not just about finding the ideas but choosing topics with ready-made audiences.
If you’re using Google Trends, it’s important to cater for some tweaking and experimenting with different search terms to latch on to the trends that will be your compass guide.
Google Alerts: an alarm for inspiration
Instead of tracking down relevant content to feed your need for story ideas, you can have the content delivered.
By creating a Google Alerts account, you can input the topics related to your industry. Then you just simply click on Create Alert for your chosen topic to be sent emails on the latest news and views in your industry. You don’t have to settle for one topic or alert. It’s possible to have many lines in the water hooking the content to fuel your inspiration for video creation.
The Google Alerts option delivers your content straight to your inbox to get those creative juices flowing. With regular exposure to the latest industry news, you can benefit from some refreshing creative angles.
Everyone is familiar with YouTube, right? It’s a place where there is video content of every imaginable variety for as far as the eye can see.
YouTube is a significant search engine, second only to Google. Countless millions go to the platform every day to look for the latest news, tech updates, ‘how-to’ videos, cultural content or vapid entertainment.
By doing a YouTube search based on your area of interest, the results will paint a clear picture of what viewers are looking for. Start typing in a subject and you’ll see auto-fill suggestions. Additionally, when watching a video, you’ll see related videos on the sidebar. These are excellent leads for story ideas.
YouTube is definitely an ideal resource for anyone needing a content brainstorming boost.
Pinterest is based on the work of busy online browsers who ‘pin’ useful Internet content onto Pinterest boards.
Folks on this platform aren’t just killing time on their phones while on the subway commute or waiting to go into a meeting. These are people who are more deliberate in their online activity searching for household budgeting tips to vegan, gluten-free crepe recipes.
Just like YouTube, you can explore the auto-fill suggestions that appear when you type in a word or topic. However, when you hit enter on a search term, Pinterest will also populate a top bar with words and phrases users are searching for related to that term.
For example, if you search Pinterest marketing inside of Pinterest, the following words and phrases appear in the top bar—tips, strategies, for bloggers, make money. So, possible content ideas can be Pinterest Tips for Bloggers, Pinterest Strategies to Make Money, et cetera.
You can also look at the popular Pinterest boards related to your industry. Explore the pins saved to those boards for content ideas.
Have a creative block? Scan Pinterest for up-to-date content to fire up your imagination. On Pinterest, there is no shortage of material to help inspire your storytelling.
Quora is, in a nutshell, a question-and-answer website.
Inquiries, responses and opinions from users are curated into a format that’s easy to follow. It gives you good-as-gold insight into what people want to know or the problems they may be facing.
Solving a customer’s problem or meeting a need is the most fundamental key to business success. In this regard, Quora is a friend to anyone searching for story ideas for videos which will resonate with viewers.
Apart from reading the questions and comments, you can ask questions of your own to gauge what kind of interest there is in the content you propose to create.
Reddit describes itself as the front page of the Internet. When it comes to bold claims, it scarcely gets bigger than that.
If Reddit were a country, it would be a nation of more than a million states called “subreddits”. These countless categories are forums exploring topics from the sublime to the banal. It is a great place to locate your customers and get a feel for their interests and needs.
The idea is to seek out the subreddit where your ideal customer spends their time. By perusing recent threads on that subreddit, you can get an appreciation for where your viewers’ heads are at. This is immensely helpful in fine-tuning your content creation.
Don’t be daunted, be inspired!
We’ve given you a broad range of options to find the inspiration and ideas you need to build your business storytelling capacity.
Bear in mind: you needn’t use all of the recommendations at once. You can scout some of the sites we’ve suggested and try on some of the recommended strategies at your own pace. It’s just important to know that there are many available options and that finding the stories to create your video content doesn’t have to be a stressful affair.
So, get out there and start building those stories that are bound to leave a lasting impression with viewers.
Read the other blogs in this series:
~ What is Your Story?
~ No Business is Too Boring to Use Video Marketing
Give your voice the power to connect with customers in a way that makes them sit up and take notice.
Check Out Our Camera Confidence Course below!