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    Why Storytelling Isn’t Working For Your Brand

    The other day, I came across a post on LinkedIn in which the author said, “Telling prospective customers about the features and benefits of whatever you’re trying to sell, doesn’t work. Always use storytelling, instead.”

    Of course, there were lots of people who jumped on the post to agree. Cos social media is like that (some people don’t take the time to think about what they’re really agreeing to AND some people don’t want to be dragged for offering a dissenting opinion).

    But as a human being who
    a) has been sold to
    b) has successfully sold some offerings
    c) has sometimes failed at selling
    I know storytelling doesn’t always work.

    Sometimes, listing features and benefits can be more beneficial when selling, than storytelling. Which is why I wrote this.

    If you read this blog post to the end, you’ll see the five things that make storytelling not to work for a brand that’s trying to sell. Hopefully, you’re not making all five mistakes. So, here goes 👇

    1) You don’t know your audience

    “Everybody” is NOT an audience.
    “Every crime fiction lover” is NOT an audience.
    “Every woman with natural hair” is NOT an audience.
    “Every teenager”. “Every Nigerian woman”. “Every African woman”. “Every mother.” “Every female lawyer.” “Every actress or woman in Media.”

    ☝️are not audiences; they’re phrases you use when you don’t know your audience.

    Human beings are not a monolith. People are looking for different things even when they have certain features in common like natural hair, motherhood, nationality, race or job title.

    A mother of a newborn in NICU has different concerns from the mother of a teenager who’s graduating from high school. A woman who has natural hair for religious reasons is not the same as the one who’s making a political statement or the one who is natural because a beauty YouTuber said it’s the right thing to do.

    Knowing your audience doesn’t just mean identifying a specific group to target; it also means knowing their desires. If you haven’t sorted this, you probably have no personal brand. Meaning your storytelling efforts are going to waste.

    2) Your storytelling is happening in the wrong place(s)

    This might come as a shock to you, but storytelling doesn’t work when you’re in the wrong rooms.

    Whether you’re on LinkedIn when your target audience is actually on Pinterest.

    Or you’re a feminist trying to sell your novel at a religious event where women are taught that they’re inferior to men.

    Or you’re at a local fair, trying to shame vegetarians into eating your meat dishes.

    Visibility is not progress, which is why you can actually be famous but broke. So, if you’ve been frequenting the wrong places, now you know why your storytelling hasn’t been working for your brand.

    3) You’re not speaking clearly enough to your target audience’s desires

    Sometimes, there is a temptation to use long words and flowery language to get the attention of a specific audience. But that can be the exact reason storytelling isn’t working for your brand.

    Say I sell rakes, shovels and hoes. But I decide such a plain description is too boring. So, I create an ad that says I sell agricultural tools of excavation. Not even people who are specifically looking for rakes, shovels and hoes will find my store – cos absolutely nobody is looking for “agricultural tools of excavation”, whether on Google or offline.

    If you’re selling multicultural women’s fiction, do prospective customers think it is chick lit – whether cos of the cover or what you’re saying in marketing material and/or promotional interviews? Have you packaged your lamb casserole to look like it’s chicken curry? Do you now see why storytelling isn’t working for your brand?

    People do not like to be confused or made to feel stupid. And nobody has time to guess, speculate or try to decipher what your brand might be trying to say.

    Clear will always win over what you may think is cute or clever. Which is why sometimes, just telling a prospective customer exactly what they can expect (AKA listing the benefits) of your offering, will beat long stories.

    4) Your stories are irrelevant to your target audience

    There are also times when storytelling doesn’t work for your brand because your prospect just doesn’t see themselves in the story you’ve painstakingly crafted. It could be a video, an image, a phrase or a written narrative you use. But it doesn’t work cos your storytelling is successfully painting a picture that the very people you are trying to reach, don’t identify with…

    So, say you sell aphrodisiacs. Your pitch to the 20-something year old woman who is desperate to be chosen for marriage by her philandering boyfriend, CANNOT work with the 40yo woman who knows she IS the prize and is already married to a man who is obsessed with her.

    Or you sell beauty products. You cannot tell the story you’re telling the young lady whose self-esteem has been destroyed by acne, to sell to one who’s actually happy with the way she looks but just wants to glow up a bit (whatever ‘glow up’ means to her). The second lady wants to pepper all the bloggers in Lagos at the 40th birthday party her billionaire husband is throwing her.

    Just like telling every woman that buying a particular new dress will make them feel or look better, doesn’t work; fgs, there are some women who believe their essence is what makes an outfit, even if it’s aso-ebi or a bin-bag!

    It’s the same way not every woman trying to be an actress, truly wants the same thing. And not everyone trying to be a better writer (whether of novels or scripts), has the same problem; so, an online course that teaches fiction writers, screenwriters and playwrights to create characters properly has to recognise that, if sales are to happen.

    People have different desires, so if they don’t recognise themselves in your story – it’s irrelevant to them.

    5) You haven’t asked for or accepted help from the right channels

    Sometimes, asking for help can be overwhelming. Sometimes, you ask for help from someone you think would know better than you, but it doesn’t quite turn out as you hoped. Sometimes, you go to certain places or people to ask for help – because of what you think you see.

    Say you see me at an exclusive event. I’m in a limited edition, black designer gown that accentuate my curves and show off my beautiful, fair skin. You gauge that the dress costs $150,000. I’m also dripping in diamonds that cost millions of Pounds. I went on social media maybe a year ago.

    Truth? 👇
    I’ve worked in Entertainment, Media and Law combined for over 20 years; I’m not the newbie you assume started whenever you saw me on social media for the first time.
    The dress is a present from the lovely godmother of the man you don’t know I’ve been married to for almost a decade; you don’t know cos you weren’t invited to the wedding and I still bear my maiden name in certain quarters for branding purposes.
    The diamonds are a loan from a jewellery brand and the man in the background of all the pictures is not a stalker; he’s the security guy for the jewellery. And the fact that I’m an ambassador for the jewellery brand, is about to be announced…

    But if you don’t know the full story as opposed to what you think you see, you’ll employ your storytelling skills to create narratives that are completely false or at best, incomplete. They won’t work for your brand. You’ll get frustrated when you try to do what you thought you saw me do, but you fail. Yet, you won’t ask for help.

    I help young women who are in Law OR Media to develop
    ✅strong voices
    ✅solid careers AND
    ✅stable personal lives.
    I’m very specific, so if ☝️ is what you’re actually interested in achieving, contact me here to ask for my help.

    Have you learned something new today or just realised why storytelling hasn’t been working for your brand? Let me know in the comments section below

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