Tell Your Buyer’s Story

When thinking about content marketing for your business as a way to get attention and draw people into potential business activity, it starts with thinking about and conveying the bigger story of the community you serve. No matter the size of your company, this isn’t as difficult as you might think. Story is how we’re built to think. That’s a good start.At the Microsoft Store opening in Boston. Chatted with their CMO, too. From Boston!

A short while back, I attended the opening of the Boston Microsoft Store. I met up with Dr. Mark Drapeau, who works as a kind of trust agent for Microsoft with the innovative side of government. When he talks with people at large, say via his Twitter account, he points out various and sundry fun and interesting conversations that might appeal to geeks of all flavors, and yet, he stays aware of his corporate mandate so that some level of the content he shares on social networks is appropriate for the types of people he helps on behalf of Microsoft. It’s a way of showing people that Mark has many facets, that he’s a participant in the community he serves, and that he is also available to help with business.

My friend, Ferg Devins, at Molson Coors in Canada has a Molson in the Community blog where they do just this. They write posts that spotlight giving projects like a donation for a pedestrian bridge, or attending and participating in a woman’s conference. Though Coors is obviously pointing out their participation in these projects, which is a professional and polite way of saying, “Hey look! We gave money to these projects!,” the concept of the posts are all very community-minded and it feels like a well-told story about other groups who matter.

But even now, as I’m recommending this to you (or am about to), you are forming up excuses as to why not. Most people have reasons like these:

  • I’m too small to create content about my business.
  • I’m too busy to prospect with content marketing.
  • My industry is too boring.
  • I can’t write well (or I’m dyslexic).
  • No one reads my blog.

Let’s address all of these.

I’m Too Small to Create Content for My Business

David and Daniel Kleban run the Maine Beer Company. There are all of two employees. I forget who does what, but when I say there are two employees, one of them is the CFO and the bottle washer. The other is the CEO and the guy who stirs the mix. They have time. Some time, at least. So they post YouTube videos and they tweet with customers. I think no business is too small. I create all the content for [], and more than half the content for Human Business Works. There’s only 3 of us total. So I’m not willing to accept I’m too small.

I’m Too Busy to Prospect With Content Marketing

Sir Richard Branson runs 400 companies and still finds time (lots of time) to blog, tweet, and do other media. He’s not very active on Pinterest, but who knows? Give him time.

If you view content marketing is wide area sales funnel activity, then saying you’re too busy to create useful content that serves your opportunity to acquire leads? What are you doing that’s more important than finding new customers? If your content isn’t helping you acquire leads, build trust, share the benefits of your products, educate your buyers, etc, then what are you doing over there? (See where we’re headed?)

My Industry is Too Boring

I hear this a lot. Max sells textiles, let’s say. Maybe he sells fabric that gets used in the making of office chairs. To you and me, that might be really boring. Maybe to the person who sources materials to buy office chairs, it’s not. Maybe even if it is boring, Max can focus on an element of the story that isn’t boring. Because in this case, maybe the buyer’s story is about giving the buyer back time by writing about (and ensuring) the level of quality that goes into the product, maybe by showing a video.

I Can’t Write Well

Nordstrom on InstagramOr I’m Dyslexic. Sir Richard Branson is dyslexic. He gets by. But even if writing isn’t your strong suit, you can use something like Pinterest or Instagram and maybe show another side of your business or your projects. Nordstrom did it. Maybe you’re the Brooklyn Bowl and you’re showing off your place, and all the fun had there. See how this works?

Oh, and don’t forget YouTube. (I’m teasing. You can’t even begin to forget YouTube, but I’ll cover that in a subsequent post, okay?) Or you could launch a podcast.

No One Reads My Blog

That’s because you really weren’t writing for your buyer, were you? You were writing for you. What makes a site of value to your prospective buyer is exactly why I’m writing this post. Your role is to write for them, to give them content that’s of value to them. If you’re a shoe salesperson, you’re helping people see the latest trends, maybe, or helping them keep their leather more supple for longer. That’s one challenge.

On another path, you have to work on prospecting for buyers the way you normally would. No one said you could give up seeking out customers via traditional methods (seeking referrals, posting ads, giving free demonstrations, sending out postcards, etc). The new digital world doesn’t remove the need for potential mainstream or physical world outreach. But instead, what you’re going to do now that you didn’t before is you’ll invite people back to see the posts and other materials you’ve created for people on your site. And from there, you might even be given the opportunity to sell your product or service. It’s another point on the way to a sale, or another service element after, or both.

That’s the opportunity. Are you doing this? Are you telling your buyer’s story? What do you write about on your site right now? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • The Money Mail

    Chris, stories are a great way to convey a message. i am working on my first ebook on negotiations and I am including stories of people I have helped negotiate.I hope they will serve two main points: 1. The ideas and tips I am sharing in the book work. 2. People can learn and make them work for themselves.

    • Chris Brogan

      Absolutely. You’ve got it right. When you say “negotiations,” like helping people talk out their debt recovery plans and stuff? I can tell you that would probably help lots of folks who have gone through that experience.

  • christiano kwena

    The title sums it up for me. Thank you for this uplifting article.

    • Chris Brogan

      Happy to help. : )

  • Emiel van den Boomen

    From time to time I have to be reminded of these topics, thanks for that Chris.
    On a personal level I am running my travel blog and yes, also there I need to ask if I am writing for myself or for my readers. Is it just my great stories and pictures that I feel I need to share or can I offer some genuine travel advice that people can actually use? Well, it’s a combination. With my own stories and pictures I want to show my expertise, which kind of supports the articles where I give advice. But I think one of my words for 2013 will be ‘Niche’: within the (huge) travel blog community I have to find my niche where I will be recognised for my advice.

    • Chris Brogan

      Now that’s interesting, Emiel. What WOULD that niche be? I’ve seen a few. Luxury travel, budget travel, travel with kids, handicapped travel, etc.

      • Emiel van den Boomen

        True Chris. Part of my focus is on family travel, but lots of the travel stories are more general (describing our own experiences, and not really focusing on the needs of readers except for providing them inspiration and crushing the fears of traveling the world). I am now just looking at myself how I behave when I search for a new destination…what is it that I need / want to read about…

    • Abdallah Al-Hakim

      Hey Emiel – do you have a link for your travel blog or is it private for the moment. I am always on the hunt for good blogs about travel!

      • Emiel van den Boomen

        Hi @abdallahalhakim:disqus Sure, it’s no secret. Just go to Actoftraveling dot com. After you have read some of the stories, can you let me know how you believe I can improve the blog? How can I add more value to you, a travel enthusiast? What can of information are you looking for? Thanks for that and enjoy the travel fun!

        • Abdallah Al-Hakim

          great! I just quickly checked it out and you win points for using Disqus as a commenting system – it is one of my favourites and I usually tend to comment more with Disqus!

  • Christopher Somers

    I refer to this as Marketing Monday – get the juices flowing and make it happen. If you are a biz owner, there is no reason not to do the items you mentioned Chris. And it can be fun too : )

    • Chris Brogan

      Well cool. Thank you. : )

  • Shelia

    Great post, I needed this does of reality today. I love your point about taking it offline and brining them back. Social media is simply a tool and we all need to be reminded of this from time to time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chris Brogan

      Glad to hear it. : ) And yes, I think this is a magic move: going from offline to on and back again. @joesorge does it well.

  • Amy Fowler

    You’re sure Richard Branson does all of his own blogging and Tweeting? I’m not convinced….

    • Chris Brogan

      I interviewed him for the cover of Success a few months ago, and he said he did.

      • Amy Fowler

        Surely he would say that….?

        • Kenneth Vogt

          Amy, why so cynical? Why would he lie about that? If someone else is actually doing it, they could “expose” him. Why would he take that kind of risk as he globetrots supporting all kinds of worthy causes? Richard Branson is generous in praising others. If he had a person doing this work for him, he would be tooting them at every interview.

        • Dave Young

          We use a podcast interview model to “source” our clients’ blog posts. When we re-write a choppy verbal transcript into a better composed written blog post, the only material our editors are allowed to use are the words that came out of the client’s mouth. Richard Branson is not one of our clients, but if his posts were written using this “adaptation” for his dyslexia, would you dare say they were not written by him?

  • zedblogger

    nice post cris every thing seems to be difficult at begaining but when you commit to work hard then you ll definitely get the success

    • Chris Brogan

      Happy to hear it. : )

      • zedblogger

        Here also Thanks

  • Dave Young

    Great post Chris. The CEO needs to be the Chief Explaining Officer. You are right in saying that they need to be creating this content despite all of the obstacles mentioned. One of the “adaptations” dyslexics make is to become much better at relating verbally if written words are difficult and time consuming.

    We believe that anyone who is pressed for time by the act of writing, can do so by using an interview model to source their content. I’m not talking about ghostwriting, or voice recognition.

    Rather, compose your posts as if you owned a radio station and had an announcer ready to interview you about the topic you’ve chosen for you blog. A good interviewer will make sure you don’t speak over your audience’s heads. Next step is to hand a transcription of your interview to a competent copy editor to transform your spoken words into a well organized written blog post. Voila! You just “created” 2 pieces of content (a podcast and a blog post) in one short session. Batch these into a monthly session and you can knock out weekly blog posts in about an hour per month.

    Our first client using this system has “written” over 43,000 words for his blog and put up 6.5 hours of podcast content in 11 months. Prior to using us, his site had a total of 3,200 words on it, including a 2-year-old blog.

    • Chris Brogan

      We would agree, Dave. In The Impact Equation, we wrote “We are all fledgling TV stations.” So, very similar mindset. : )

  • Samantha Gregory

    I appreciate the reminder to create content. This is my thing as a freelance writer, yet I forget with all the shiny new marketing objects surfacing each day. As an author I struggle sometimes with coming up with new content because it feels like I put all the words in my book. Impossible I know but it feels like they are all gone sometimes.

    • Chris Brogan

      Remember, the story is about your reader, not your book. As an author, tell the story of your reader and they’ll come to realize your book is for them.

      • Andrew Thorn

        My story is the tool. Figuring out how to tell it in a way that connects the reader’s story to my story is the magic of authentic writing and that is what separates a person who panders to the buyer from a person who can truly create the need for the buyer to buy.

        • Chris Brogan

          Why is it pandering to serve a buyer? Do you think your business exists for you?

  • Ernest Thompson

    Interesting. I watched how you interacted and treated two ladies on Twitter last night that were trying to tell the story of their friend’s mom, and you certainly didn’t let them run with it. Kettle, pot, black?

    • Chris Brogan

      First, the story is a bit different than you portrayed it. Second, that has absolutely nothing to do with what this post is about.

      Third, hiding behind an alias is lame.

  • Manuel Loigeret

    Really interesting post… I find myself with a blog that is mostly personal (with personal development tendency like most personal blogs). And I also started a new business as a freelance web designer/app developer. I wanted to open a blog only for my business but I had a hard time figuring out what I could blog about … Thinking about it and it starts to clear things a little. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Chris Brogan

      Glad it connected with you. : )

  • Andrew Thorn

    Love how you obliterate the excuses – thanks for thinking through this.

    • Chris Brogan

      Loved our conversation earlier, too. You’re not wrong.

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  • Dave Crenshaw

    Very brilliant post, Chris. Those excuses you addressed are very common among entrepreneurs. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Nice breakdown of the excuses and rebuttals for each one. I would also add that engagement around the content is really important to start the process of building a community. I am always amazed by content producers who treat their post as a one time activity and do not engage further with their readers.

    • Chris Brogan

      I quite agree. If we don’t chit-chat and get to know the people who interact with our content, we miss a lot of opportunities. : )

  • Nate Anglin

    Well said Chris. Everything following an excuse is a waste of time. If companies / people mention the bullets you outlined above I question their passion and reason for doing what their doing in the first place. Change and innovation is necessary.

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Hi Chris. Trying to think how I can apply these tips and write a story – Got an idea! I found some great free ebooks today. I think I’ll mix them into a reference-reading list post! Thanks for the motivation.

  • tom@morethanpepper

    there goes my excuses big time

  • eQuibbly

    Thanks Chris for the motivation! In my field, the real challenge is how to do away with jargons, but I’m not giving up yet. Happy Thanksgiving anyway!

  • Zouras

    Excellent post Chris! Thank you very much..! One thing I have learned during my journey in internet marketing….the most difficult part of this business is to start with zero money to invest! As you know if someone want to be a serious internet marketer he has to know that in order to succeed he must give his best and invest some money….so going from $0 to $1 is more difficult than going from $1 to 1$.000

  • Luc Comeau

    Great post Chris! it’s all about commitment and you’re my commitment drill Sergeant

  • Rob

    I really like this concept, and keep stories stashed away in my Evernote of “client spotlight” posts where I highlight some interaction with someone in my business and what was done, how their world changed after interacting.

    I’d be interested in more creative ways to tell their story besides “write a post called client spotlight and name the client” … ways to craft the story.

  • Carolyn Frith

    Do you ever hear the excuse: “no one in my industry reads.” I heard that from someone in financial services. I find that hard to believe but I suppose it’s a good excuse not to write anything!