Category Archives: Marisa Sanfilippo

Storytelling in Business 101: How to Get Started & Succeed

People sell, stories sell, facts sell, great imagery sells, and thus, storytelling in business has become a popular and effective method of marketing.

Harvard Business Review went as far as stating that storytelling has “irresistible power,” noting “we humans have been communicating through stories for upwards of 20,000 years, back when our flat screens were cave walls.” The same article also noted that storytelling “evokes a neurological response.” If you are new to storytelling in business or haven’t been getting results with storytelling, here are few basic things you can do to improve your efforts.

  1. Re-visit what makes your brand unique.

Why should people care about your business? What is your competitive edge? What does your brand offer that the competition lacks? Take a closer look at your brand and ask yourself questions that an outsider might want to know, such as:

  • What makes me worthy of doing business with this brand?
  • What value does this brand offer?
  • How can this brand save me money and solve my problems?
  • How is this brand different from its competitors?
  • Why should I care about this brand?
  1. Make sure you understand your target audience.

I’ve seen a lot of businesses not be successful in marketing in general because they don’t understand their target audience. Oftentimes they think their target audience is everyone, which really can’t be the case. Forbes offers six steps to decoding your target audience:

  • Who are they?
  • What’s their most pressing issue, problem, or desire?
  • Where do they get their info?
  • What benefit of your product solves their problem?
  • What sets off their BS detector?
  • Who do they trust?

 

  1. Craft stories that speak to pain point of your target audience.

Let’s say you sell carpet cleaner. Your target audience might be moms of children ages 15 and under who live in New Jersey. A pain point for them would likely be cleaning the house and you have a product that can make cleaning easier! Your carpet cleaner works fast and works well! It makes cleaning easier. In your storytelling, you’ll want to craft content that speaks to that audience, perhaps using a mom in your storytelling.

Whenever possible, be sure to include actual customers in your storytelling (since they are your target audience after all); I also think this makes storytelling more authentic and believable. In telling your story, you might use data or dialogue. At the end of the day, it’s important to capture attention, build trust, and close the sale (like authors Paul Smith and Mike Weinburg suggest in their book ‘Sell with a Story’).

  1. Don’t just tell with copy or photos, use video.

Video is truly a powerful way to communicate. According to HubSpot, including a video on landing page can increase video conversion by 80 percent and 92 percent of mobile video consumers share video with others. You don’t have to spend a lot money on your video marketing – just learn the basics of it and grab a good camera or even an iPad to record. A video-editing tool like iMovie is powerful and free with Apple products.

 

 

Additional Resources

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby – an older book. Does not focus on storytelling in business but rather storytelling in general. There’s a lot to learn from this book.

Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith

Hooked: How Leaders Connect, Engage, and Inspire with Storytelling by Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu – this books breaks down the art of storytelling and offers greater insight into how to craft your stories.

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

Email Marketing Basics: Getting Started in 2017

I’ve seen email marketing become the most powerful marketing channel across many different industries. Aside from WORKING, email marketing is highly measurable and affordable. Depending on the amount of emails you send and the email software you use, your email marketing could end up being virtually free; I say virtually because if you are running the campaigns yourself, your time is money!

Continue reading Email Marketing Basics: Getting Started in 2017

Website Checkup: Cures for Lack of Leads & Sales

Is your website generating little or zero sales? If so, you are obviously missing out on some serious opportunities to grow your business. Building a website is not one those “if you build it they will come” sort of things. Getting the website up and running is just the first part in attracting leads online. If your website is not working for you, try these things.

  1. Clarity is key.

When Internet users visit your website, right away they should be able to tell what kind of business you have and what you do. There shouldn’t be any guessing and confusion on the user’s part.

 

  1. Engage, engage, engage.

Your website needs to pull visitors in and engage them be it with clever copy, catchy images, or hard to look away from videos. According to HubSpot, shoppers who view video are 1.18x more likely to purchase than non-viewers.

 

  1. Save the jargon for internal communications.

Your website needs to have copy that speaks the language of your target audience. While certain words may make sense in your industry and among staff, they may leave prospects feeling confused. Get rid of any jargon. Oftentimes, we are so deep into our industries that what does not come across as jargon to us does to others, therefore, it’s always a good idea to get an outsider’s perspective; ask a friend to review your website and tell you what they think.

  1. Test page loading times.

In my recent Huffington Post article I noted: 40 percent of Internet users abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. There are tools like Pingdom and WebPageTest that you can use to test loading times. Oftentimes coding structure and high media bandwidth can slow down webpages.

 

  1. Create valuable content.

This goes back to tip No. 2, engaging. When creating content, consider the needs of your target audience. Sure, you have products and/or services to sell, but how you portray those offerings is key. Speak to more than just features. Talk up value. Why should people care about what you are offering? What sets your products and services apart from the competition?

 

  1. Find out what the problems are first hand and solve them. 

If you can’t find anything wrong with your website, go straight to your existing customers. Ask them to review your website and give you feedback. Perhaps in return for their time you can reward them with a gift certificate. Getting feedback can be small scale – sending out online surveys. Survey Monkey is my favorite survey tool – a basic plan that allows for 10 questions and 100 responses is free to use. If you have the resources for it, on a larger scale you could hold a focus group.

 

  1. Checkout needs to be seamless.

According to Forbes, shopping cart abandonment is as high as 80 percent! The same Forbes article also noted that “annoyed at complicated checkout process” is the No. 1 reason people abandon their shopping carts. Here are some ways to improve your checkout process, as suggested by the writer:

 

  • Make checkout mobile friendly. AdWeek noted that 55 percent of people in a Facebook study said they buy via mobile because of its convenience while 55 percent said they would be more likely to shop online if they could do so across more devices.
  • Use a progress indicator – it shows the stage the buyer is at during the checkout process.
  • Be generous with payment options. PayPal is desirable to a lot of consumers but as a business, it’s not always the most cost efficient option. In being generous with your payment options allow consumers to pay by various credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. If you are not interested in taking credit cards because of credit card processing expenses, check out companies like Red Bank based Priority Payments Local for cost savings.

 

If you are still having problems with your website, feel free to shoot me an email at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com.

marisa

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

 

Must Read Books for Marketing Mavens (or Mavens in Training)

You have likely heard the saying “knowledge is power.” I am a firm believer in it! There is a sense of power and confidence I get when I read a good business or marketing book that I just never seem to get from reading an article online or watching a webinar. While articles and webinars can be great resources for learning, there’s nothing like getting an education the “old fashioned way” – from a book. The following books have helped me become the marketer I am today and highly recommend adding them to your reading list. Continue reading Must Read Books for Marketing Mavens (or Mavens in Training)

How to Get Started Using Twitter for Business

I have a confession to make … I am obsessed with Twitter. Admittedly, several years ago when I first got started with it I thought it was kind of pointless. It took me a few years to become a regular user, reaping the benefits of it and now I am addicted.

Twitter was created back in 2006 as a “microblogging” type of social media channel. In 140 characters or less, users can share their message, known as a tweet. Since inception, Twitter has become an invaluable source for news. I remember when the tragic Boston Bombings happened – Twitter gave me the most updated news, for example. Continue reading How to Get Started Using Twitter for Business

How to Use Linkedin to Get New Business

There are 332 million people on Linkedin, with two new members joining every second (according to a Linkedin Pulse article by Katy Elle Blake). In the same article, Blake noted: 29 percent of US adults use Linkedin daily and the average user spends 17 minutes per month on the site.

I’ve been on Linkedin since 2007 (right before I graduated college) and have seen it grow drastically into an invaluable business tool. When used correctly, Linkedin can be a big lead generating machine. Continue reading How to Use Linkedin to Get New Business

Introduction to 5 Psychological Shifts That Could Take Your Marketing to the Next Level

Every good marketer knows – in order to create successful marketing campaigns, understanding your target audience is a must. However, understanding your target audience is much more than knowing how old they are, where they are located, and where they go for information. I encourage you to unleash the power of consumer psychology and get into the minds of your ideal customers in order to take your marketing efforts to the next level. Continue reading Introduction to 5 Psychological Shifts That Could Take Your Marketing to the Next Level

Quick & Easy Ways to Brand Your Business Online

When you see a big yellow letter M, what do you think of? Now fill in the blank. Like a good neighbor ____ ____ is there! When you think of geckos, what comes to mind? Like many other large corporations, McDonalds, State Farm, and Geico ‘get’ branding.

Entrepreneur defines branding as “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” Branding is so important because it helps consumers recognize your business, connect with your business, get you noticed, and even drive sales. Continue reading Quick & Easy Ways to Brand Your Business Online