Even as marketing technology develops, the story remains your most dominant sales tool
by Colette Weil

Marketing has entered a new era. Technology-based tools enable us to size, identify and measure efforts with greater precision. We can research, parse databases, target customers and promotions and assess performance and experiences like never before. However, the story is still at the heart of marketing. Brand storytelling isn’t new, but it continues to be a powerful marketing strategy. A delivery tech lights up each customer’s day with a smile—sometimes the only one that person sees. A customer manages a busy day on her feet in the hospital, her legs energized with extra support. An HME business helps a community in a snowstorm, or its team customizes the wheelchair that enables a customer to compete in athletic games. A provider’s business survives the loss of Medicare and flourishes in new markets, due to the suggestions of its customers. Customers and vendors tell the best stories about us—good and bad. You could call them testimonials, but they also comprise the fiber of a business. One HME business took a negative customer story and turned it into a lightning rod for change—forming the basis for a new product launch, service program and successful marketing campaign. Your products are not your story, but how they improve lives for your customers, employees and the community is. Facts and bullet points are recorded, but stories—filled with immediacy, emotion, need and familiarity—are remembered. While products are important, the story plays in the back of the public’s mind about who and what you are. The way we tell stories is constantly changing with the digital landscape. Mobile devices are key communication vehicles. Video is indispensable in telling stories on your website, blog, YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter. What are your key stories? Who are you? How have your people and products impacted customers? How has an accessible home changed lives? Take a moment with your staff to identify at least three authentic stories about your customers and business. With just one of these, you can communicate your philosophy, service, products and experience. That story becomes the anchor to drive a campaign in other mediums. It is most often a story that will stimulate the further creative development of new messaging, campaign, promotion, slogan or tagline. Take a look at your marketing messages. Ask yourself, what kind of story do I want to tell? How can a story help make the message stick? Stop the feature-and-benefit sell. Tell a story, and make it a page-turner so your customers will want to know more. Send your brand’s story, in 700 words or less, to Managing Editor Kristin Easterling, keasterling@cahabamedia.com.

Anecdotes that people like to incorporate use one of these story lines:

  1. Aspirations and beliefs
  2. David and Goliath
  3. Avalanche about to roll
  4. Contrarian/counterintuitive/challenging assumptions
  5. Anxieties
  6. Personalities and personal stories
  7. How-to and advice
  8. Seasonal/major event-related

* List courtesy of Lois Kelly, author of Beyond Buzz, The Next Generation of Word of Mouth Marketing.