(post by Andrew Thorp)
Unless you’re a journalist you might be surprised to learn that you’re actually in the publishing game now! It seems crazy but the marketing gurus are all telling business owners that ‘in-bound content marketing’ is the way forward.
By this they mean finding things to talk about in our industry that people might like to read (or watch/listen to). The idea is this engages our audience, starts conversations and communicates our distinctive personality – all making it more likely that prospects will be drawn (pulled) to us because of the quality of our content, rather than the frequency of our (push) advertising.
Now finding stuff to talk about in my industry is pretty easy. It’s about communication and that could be anything from the psychology of the job interview to reviewing Ed Milliband’s conference speech! But what about an apparently more limited topic like dry cleaning?
This came up in conversation at a recent networking event when I met a chap who ran a chain of dry cleaning outlets. “How on earth do I make dry cleaning sound exciting?” he asked.
Well, think of it this way…pretty much every garment brought into the store has a story behind it. Why did it get messed up? And why is it so vital that it’s cleaned and ready by 3pm tomorrow? It’s the CONTEXT of the garment needing attention that’s interesting. Imagine if…
A man has a vital interview in an unfamiliar city, parks his car, can’t find the pedestrian exit and climbs over a fence to take a short cut. Then….a horrible noise - a 12 inch tear appears in his trouser leg…ARRGGHH!
He dashes down the street and notices a dry cleaners. “We do repairs” the sign points out. He walks in but there’s a queue. The woman behind the counter notices his panicked expression AND the rather obvious tear. “Oh dear, you’re in a pickle,” she says. He explains the situation, the woman asks a colleague to attend to the other customers and examines the trouser leg. She takes the man into the back office, finds some other trousers for him to wear while she fixes the tear and 20 minutes after walking in he’s back in business – but in danger of missing his interview slot! The woman asks him the address for the interview (it’s nearby but tricky to find) and accompanies him to the office. She calms him down, wishes him luck and….well, let’s assume there was a happy ending!
That story is loosely based on a true experience related to me in one of our corporate story-sharing sessions – not a dry cleaners, but a real emergency repair before a vital presentation.
The point is there are ALWAYS great stories in and around a business. The trick is to find the story BEHIND the bare facts, the context in which it occured and in this case the consequence of a great piece of customer service. Think more laterally, find those stories, learn to tell them well and get savvy with social media to build your influence and pulling power. If you do that well, you’ll be ahead of most of your rivals!