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Telling the Story, Selling the Story

For many entrepreneurs, putting marketing materials together can be the most challenging aspect of their business. There’s a lot of pressure to stand out from the crowd and finding the right words to lure customers can be a struggle.

Yet every business has a story and this story is the most compelling part of your business, the hook that will capture your customers’ interest. In order to create effective marketing materials, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself: what’s the story of my business?

There are numerous elements to that story. The first is the idea, the spark that propelled you into business. Maybe you spotted a niche that you knew you could fulfil, or decided to leave the rat-race and fulfil a lifelong passion. Or you wanted work that would ensure you could spend more time with your children.

Then there’s the story of how you set up your business: the goals you hope to achieve, the obstacles you overcame and the highlights. Finally, there’s the meaning the business has brought to your life, whether it’s the ability to provide for your family, the freedom to be your own boss, or creative fulfilment.

In a previous post, I mentioned the importance of finding an angle when creating a press release. Putting the elements of your business story together will help you find that angle. It will help you figure out what makes your business unique, what you do differently to everyone else in the market.

Once you have written your business story, it will then be easier to create effective marketing materials. Your story can form the basis for a compelling mission statement on your website, a press release for the media or marketing emails for your customers.

You’ll discover that creating marketing materials is quite a linear process. First you tell the story, then you sell the story.

PS: To find out how to tell your story through blogs, why not drop along to WordCamp, a camp for business bloggers being held in Kilkenny  on March 6th and 7th. It features talks from international blogging experts. Log on to for further details.

Every business has a story. Your story helps your business stand out from the crowd. It's your story that customers ultimately buy into. I help businesses tell their story using a three-step process. Define the story: Identify what you do, how you do it and above all, why you do it? Refine the story: Decide who's interested in your story and where to spread the word. Deliver the story: through blogs, newsletters, mailshots, social media posts, press releases and brochures.

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  • Thanks for sharing Derbhile. Good help to those that are not marketing oriented. The process sounds simpler 🙂

  • Hi Derbhile, I think we are often guilty of forgetting how a good/interesting/against the odds story can communicate deeply with people. Very often, when we talk about business stories, we tend to focus too much on the successes, while attempting to ignore the failures. It worth remembering that every business highlights success, often attempting to create an impression that they never had a rocky moment. As we know, this is rarely the case so perhaps a more honest approach may in fact end up actually been the more effective. I’d love to know your thoughts?

  • Short, sharp and very much to the point. Great post, Derbhile; would love to see more web editors in particular following your recommendations.

  • Good post Gerard.
    I’m not familiar with this products but surprised me the bank charge of 5%, is that monthly?
    The other issue is when these institutions assume the “growth rate” of, in this case, 6%. How certain than can be? How dangerous is if there’s no growth at all? Does your money literally make no leverage?

  • Gerardsheehy

    Hi Fred,

    It depends on the frequency of payment but yes, the 5% is of every contribution that you make for the term of the plan. Some companies will offer a lower charge if the contribution is substantial – maybe €1,000 a month, but it can be avoided completely if you do enough research. Incidentally, this 5% would be typically on some pension products also.

    The ‘Growth Rate’ is an assumption so there is no guarantee with it. The ‘growth’ on the value of the policy depends on how the funds that you invest in perform. It’s possible that there could be no growth or even negative growth but, personally, I would rather risk that not happening as opposed to leaving money in a deposit account where inflation may erode the value of your money.

    That is why it is important to find a product with a low-cost charging structure so that the charges do not inhibit any potential growth too much.

  • “Do you want to save for your own child’s education or for the education of the child of the person that’s selling the product?” What a line, fantastic! The key as you say Gerard is to know what exactly it is that you are been charged. Thanks, Niall

  • I love that phrase: “Do you want to save for your own child’s education or for the education of the child of the person that’s selling the product?” My Dad sold pensions and investments for years, I have neither as a result of serious questioning on my part and firm belief that the only one’s making any money from them were the sellers. I do realise that there are some that are good, however I think overall until we start teaching this in our schools as part of our education cirriculum and we all get a basic understanding of it we will be royally screwed with mis-information and the fear factor.

  • Gerardsheehy

    There’s some excellent information on the NCA and AskAboutMoney websites. Waiting for the Government to do someting about it through schools is folly.

    And, you’re right – there are competitive products out there but you have to roll up your own sleeves and do the research as no one is going to roll them up for you unless you pay them to do so. IMHO, deferring long-term financial planning for the reason you state is not a good idea.

  • We will have to agree to disagree on it Gerard – I don’t agree with all the scare tactics used to get people to invest in pensions and savings plans. Nor am I waiting for it to get into schools. I am a firm believer that we are ultimately responsible for our own situations in life and it is each individual’s repsonsibiltiy to educate themselves to the pros and cons of it – which I do.

  • Thanks Gerard

  • Anonymous

    Personally speaking I don’t get this concept of “saving for your child’s education”. My parents couldn’t afford to pay to put me through 3rd level education, and I had to take loans out to make it happen. Even though I’m only just finished paying them off, it was easily the best financial decision I ever made.

    Yes it will be nice to give our children a leg up, but they must be able to take some responsibility too, and stand on their own feet.

  • Completely agree with you on that Frank. Too many parents feel the pressure to “cushion” their children from the realities of the world, which in the end does them no favours.

  • Along the same lines… I shared a house with the leading Car Salesperson (two years) for Chicago (about as competitive as it gets).nnOne of her u2018tricksu2019 was to talk to people as much as possible, and talk more, and more…nnShe knew her customers inside out. And even if they didnu2019t buy, theyu2019d send others to her because she was so helpful.nnMost sales people, donu2019t know how to listen. nnTheyu2019re in broadcast mode. nnThey need to flip it around. n

  • How very true Tori. It amazed me when I was an Ann Summers Manager the amount of party organisers that didn’t target male customers. When I first started I didn’t drive and I’d always leave a brochure with every taxi driver I hired and developed many loyal customers in them. Everyone is a potential customer for most products and yes, developing that all important relationship is the first step, knowing your product definitely comes second, sales technique comes third, in my opinion. Great post.

  • ToriHawthorne

    Thanks for your comments guys…nWhen concentration is put on sales technique I feel it creates a more pushy sales-person. All that will do is turn customers away.nAnd my male sales agents are doing well ;-)nnThanks to ye all for taking time to comment.

  • Hi TorinnCustomer before product everytime (provided that the product delivers of course!). nnOften the argument is made that you cannot create a great product without the sales first to pay for development (especially in the services business). But I have seen when product or service development has not happened properly before it was sold to an unsuspecting public. nnThis is a disaster, hence the comment above that the product needs to do what it says when purchased!nnRegardsnBarney

  • If I was selling cosmetics, why would I not consider men? There is a market for every product and service out there, otherwise it would not be thought of :)nnIn the same light, there is product for every person, and a person for every product. But only the person can dictate the product they prefer (aside from obvious advertising cajoling).nnIt is possible to sell to people who never considered a product, create a market that was not previously there. it’s the thought process and techniques used then, that will dictate success, I feel.nnGreat post Tori, thanks for highlighting the importance of the WIIFT, when attempting to sell 🙂

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