Attract Buyers and Grow Your Industrial Distribution Business With Storytelling
by Matt Johnson, on
Every good story has a hero.
The best industrial distributors in the business admit there have been times their sales and marketing message became confusing. It’s easy to do.
The more information we try to cram into the space of a web page, blog article or sales sheet, our customer gets lost. We forget that the entire purpose of our products and services is to help our customer (the hero of our story) along his or her journey, not confuse them further.
We focus the message on ourselves instead:
- We are the leaders of our industry.
- We deliver superior customer service.
- Our products and services are the best.
Notice a trend?
There’s quite a few “we’s” and “our’s” in the above statements. While any good business or marketing plan should highlight the benefits of choosing your company over the competition, too much can be off-putting to the potential customer. Buyers are motivated by what matters to them, not what matters to you. To reach your buyer, you must relate to their experience and see things through their perspective.
"Companies who make the message about themselves lose. Above all, we must remember that our job is to guide our hero towards success."
How To Use Storytelling To Grow Your Business
Donald Miller, author of Building A Story Brand, speaks to business leaders about using a basic story framework to clarify their brand message and bring more value to their customers. Recently our creative team dived head first into the best-selling book, curious what tidbits of wisdom we might gather. Not sure if it would relate to the work we do, but open to the possibility that it could improve the way we communicate with you.
We ended up with an entire framework that would change the way we looked at our marketing initiatives forever. Better yet, we found a guide that could help us along the way. The message was so clear, so impactful that we knew we needed to share it with you. So, we set out to do it in a way that resonated with the industrial distributor.
Want to learn more about how Building A Story Brand can help you? Click here to see for yourself.
Here's how to guide your hero in his journey.
Get a bird’s eye view of the challenges your customer faces. Understand the unique way your company can help them avoid failure and guide them towards success. Learn how to craft a story to be used in emails, websites, printed catalogs, brochures and social media. Use that collateral to empower your customers to take action, slay their dragons, win their heart’s desire and rise victorious. Use this basic framework to craft your story.
1. Understand Your Hero.
The hero is your customer. Who knows your customer better than you? Think about the common thread that runs through all of your customers ?
- Who are they?
- What are their interests, their pain points, their stressors?
- What does success look like for them?
The secret to telling a story that resonates with your buyer is to keep them in the forefront of our mind. We have a tendency to want to talk about ourselves. We’re proud of the work we do and we want to shout it from the rooftops. It’s human nature.
As a leader in the industrial distribution market, you know what you bring to the table and it only makes sense to let others know. Right? Well you’re not 100% wrong, but if that’s how you’re currently marketing, you’re likely missing the mark. The customer doesn’t want to hear about how great your company is, they want to know how your company can help them be great.
Pro Tip: The hero is not your brand, the hero is your customer. Always.
2. Identify Their Internal Struggle.
Donald Miller has said over and over in his book that companies sell solutions to external problems, but people buy solutions to internal problems. What does that even mean?
It means that it’s not as easy as identifying a single problem a customer has and selling them a magical product to solve it. People are intrinsically motivated. Let’s take a look at the life of a safety manager for example. While keeping employees safe, staying within budget and keeping production moving along may be among their main goals, they are likely motivated by something a bit more nefarious — DANGER.
This is the hero’s problem. Danger is the foe and must be stopped at all costs. Unfortunately, danger comes in all shapes and sizes and stopping danger isn’t an easy feat.
When we look closely, we see that the hero’s constant battles with danger leaves him stressed, frustrated and exhausted. Between his boss’ demands, employee safety and a lean purchasing budget, the worries just keep piling up. What’s our hero to do?
3. Decide To Be Their Guide.
Our hero, as talented as he is, doesn’t seem to stand a chance against danger in the workplace. It’s always lurking just around the corner. The hero knows he can’t solve this alone. He needs someone in his corner that he can rely on. After all, everyone is always looking to our hero for advice and solutions. It’s only fair that he have someone he can lean on. He needs a guide. He needs you.
Think about your favorite book or story. Do you remember who the guide was and how they helped the hero achieve their goals? You should. Without them, the hero would never have been encouraged to overcome their internal flaws and emerge victorious. You may recall these trusted guides: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda or Gandalf. Films like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars just wouldn’t be the same without them.
How can you position your brand as their guide? There’s two ways, through empathy and authority.
Empathy is an often overlooked skill in business. There’s no better way to relate to your customer than to put yourself in their shoes. When you look at the problem as a living, breathing part of your customer’s life, it’s much easier to relate to them. When you know what drives your customer, you can better guide them towards a solution for their problem.
Authority on the other hand is more than touting oneself as an expert. It’s about building trust. What better way to establish yourself as an authority than to be the source customers go to when they need help?
4. Provide A Clear Plan.
A guide in any story has one job, to teach the hero how to succeed on his own. Part of that process is clearly identifying the problems the hero is facing. Anyone can offer a slew of solutions, hoping that one sticks. That’s not what customers need. They need someone who can provide a clearly defined path towards success.
There’s no need to complicate an already complicated situation. That’s where the industrial distributor shines. You are a wealth of knowledge and you understand your customers. You have the ability to sell specialized products with technical education and experience. You can help them achieve their goals.
Whether we are talking about improving facility safety, production flows, tool supply or inventory management, you have the expertise to help. Not only do you have the products and services your hero needs, you can help them navigate through the endless choices in front of them.
The plan should be simple.
Step 1. Schedule a consultation with an expert.
Step 2. Let us provide solutions to your challenges.
Step 3. Be happier and less stressed.
5. The Crossroad: Success Or Failure.
Fear is a powerful motivator. Now, that’s not to say we should strike fear into our customers at every turn. It simply means that we need to clearly demonstrate what's at stake if they fail to act.
What if they decide they aren’t ready to make a decision? Remind them of the “horrors” that await them if they fail to act. They’ll remain stressed out, overworked, over budget, underappreciated and frustrated. That’s no way to live.
Then, show them the benefits of taking action with you. Show them that with you as their guide, they’ll experience amazing customer service, expert advice and support and the very best products and services. Paint a picture in their minds of what life could be like without the stress they currently feel.
Lay your cards on the table. How can you help them succeed?
6. Challenge Hero To Act.
After you provide them with a plan and consequences, your hero must be challenged to take action. Will they accept their guide’s plan for success or will they be destined to be sad, frustrated and overworked forever?
Sounds simple enough, but this is where we often get hung up. It’s no secret that you would like to earn their business. It’s no secret that the hero is struggling with a problem. It’s no secret that you have the solution. So ask them and don’t beat around the bush, either. Clearly let them know they have a choice to make.
Will they follow your advice? Do they need more information to help them decide? Will they do nothing and suffer the consequences?
Now, let's show you how it's done.
Are you ready to create a marketing message that your customers will love? Then, simply click on the big green button below.
Still need a little time? Want to learn more about how industrial distributors can connect with today's buyer? Enroll in our FREE Industrial Marketing Course today.
Sometimes, people aren't ready for the hard sell. That's okay. Help guide them in their journey with helpful tools and resources that can help them make the decision that's best for them. Just maybe, that additional guidance will help them decide.
Every good story follows a framework.
There’s a protagonist, an inciting incident, the goal, turning points, point of no return, a battle and a final outcome. In the industrial marketplace, we aren’t trying to write the next literary masterpiece — but we are trying to captivate our audience.
It’s really just as simple as wanting to grab the attention of your audience and KEEP IT.
Think of your favorite book or story. What elements of that story stand out to you? Chances are, you remember the main character, the hero of the story.
You also remember the person who helped them along the way. Imagine if your favorite story lacked that quintessential guide. What if your hero was able to figure out the solution to their problem on their own, without any struggles or monumental failures. Would the story stick with you as much as it does today?
When you market your services and products, think of your customers as the hero of the story. And, you as their guide.
“If you won’t be their guide, someone else will.”
What challenges are your customers up against? What are they looking to improve in their own lives? How can you, as their trusted distributor, help them solve their problems?
Be the guide your customers are looking for. Craft a message that resonates with your buyers and grows your brand. Spinstak can help.