The Inspiration for this Book
Jennifer was sitting in my office while I listened to a repeat of what I had heard so many times before: “I have no money to hire a web developer or a graphic artist. I do everything myself. I have a homemade web site using mostly photos I have taken. I don’t have enough money for a true shopping cart so I have people email me when they want to buy something. I have great products that have some loyal customers. I just don’t have enough customers. But, if I can’t get sales up, I can’t afford to really promote my business.
If I can’t afford to promote my business, I can’t increase sales. I am trapped!”
These were the conversations I used to dread.
I could help people improve their web sites (as long as they had someone to do the work). I could advise them on how to get better search engine visibility, how to improve their use of Facebook, how to start a Google AdWords campaign, or any number of other online marketing ideas. We could improve their performance at trade shows or farmers markets. We could talk about direct mail or joining networking groups.
But all of this takes money to get started, and Jennifer, like so many before her, had no budget for any of these ideas. Her business-on-a-shoestring was stalled with no solution.
She did have several things in her favor. I could tell that Jennifer had a good natural eye for design. Her product hang tags were attractive with an elegant feel, but sadly, visually disjointed from her web site design. Her product photos were quite good, despite her lack of product photography skills or dedicated lighting setup.
Most importantly, she was very passionate about her business.
She raised specialty sheep and sold the raw wool to weavers. She also handcrafted a variety of wool products. I could tell from the photos that the sheep were beloved. There was something in her voice that convinced me she had an inner fire for her sheep and her business. I also knew she had a story to tell.
I had been reading about the power of stories, the latest brain research into stories, why people are attracted to brands, and how consumers make their buying decisions. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with the science behind stories and the opportunities stories brought to the small business owner.
Rather than spending time helping clients find free web hosting or low cost logo design services, we could start investing time in what really mattered: getting ideal customers attracted and engaged.
True engagement with ideal customers is far more valuable than a pretty web site.
Being able to tell your story is truly empowering.
I have watched as clients grew from meek (I have this little business . . .) to confident. They don’t just tell their story, they truly believe it. Stories are not just tools for marketing, they are tools for changing their beliefs about themselves and their businesses.
For Jennifer, it is her story that will enable her to grow a business despite her lack of funding.
Her stories (of course, there are stories for each of her sheep, as well as each of her products) will engage her ideal customers. Those customers will spread her stories. They will visit her web site and Facebook page and will smile while reading about a new lamb being born or a new product being developed.
When she goes to the craft fairs and farmers markets, she will engage the shoppers with her stories. People will stop by just for an update on the animals.
Eventually she will be able to hire someone to enhance her web site or perhaps she can start using a shopping cart to make online buying easier. These things will come as her stories spread, and as her fans grow in number and loyalty.
Jennifer is learning the power of stories to build her business.
As a small business owner, regardless of size or budget, you can do the same. Stories are free. Stories are already inside you. All you need to do is get them out!
Are you ready to start your story journey?