By Stephanie Shaterian

The idea of storytelling as a marketing technique is not new, but it’s been rapidly gaining traction as a technique that is uniquely effective in the online digital world. We are hard-wired to respond to stories and our emotional response to stories can have direct impact on our purchase decisions. As Entrepreneurs, this can lead to all sorts of questions and indecisions on our end. How do we know the stories we tell will have the impact we want? How do we shape our brand narrative for specific audiences? Or at base level, how do I craft a compelling brand narrative? The key to creating compelling stories is having a specific reason for doing so.

Let’s work on a hypothetical example together. Say our business is that old chestnut – a lemonade stand.

●     Your Brand is a Super Special Snowflake – just like our kids, our businesses are unique and individual – and there’s no one out there doing it exactly how you do it. For our fictional example, our lemonade is very special for a number of reasons. We use our granny’s super-secret family recipe. The lemons are from an old family tree. Of course it is organic and sustainably produced as well!

●     Your Audience is a Super Special Snowflake – your audience, your niche, your peeps. However you slice it, the people that need what you’ve got have specific pain points and you can help them. The stories we tell need to recognize and address these pain points. Going back to the lemonade, maybe that super-secret recipe is how they do it in the south – and anyone from that region is going to immediately identify and have emotional response to the flavor of our drink.

●     Emotional Resonance – People are moved to action by the emotional response they have to stories. We’ve got very powerful lemonade here, particularly for folks who have moved away from the South. Nostalgia, longing for home or the past, conjuring up memories of childhood activities or family members who are no longer with us. A taste of this lemonade is going to help bring it all back.

●     Narrative – So we know what we have, we know where our audience has pain that we can help and we know the kind of emotional response we want to evoke. You could put up a lemon yellow website that exclaims, “Best Lemonade Ever!”, “Reminds you of Grandma’s Recipe from Alabama!”. But that’s not telling a story. A story has a beginning, middle and end. It can and should be very straightforward and simple. A great one for our lemonade stand would be: You lead a busy modern life – it’s hard to slow down and remember what it was like to appreciate simple joys – Our southern family lemonade will bring that feeling back.

●     Tactics– Now we can share that narrative in our branding, images and colors we select (Maybe a hazy sepia tinged with yellow), it reflects in the “About Page” and in our social media marketing (Throwback Thursday – share your childhood summertime photos with us on our Instagram feed!), and in our packaging and design. 

Never before have we entrepreneurs had such unprecedented access to reaching potential clients/customers through a multitude of channels. We can leverage that access- through web, through social, through mobile- by telling compelling stories that resonate and engage with the people that need to hear them. Be true to yourself and your brand, have fun and the stories will come from there.

Stephanie Shaterian, owner of fLO Content Marketing,  is the consummate online actress, taking on the identity of any brand and creating winning, witty content that helps companies and non-profits build loyalty and top-of-mind awareness among clients and prospects. Stephanie has worked with a diverse range of clients including: consulting, advocacy, retail, greentech, commercial furniture, medical, performing arts and animal boarding(?!). She also helps parent entrepreneurs get a handle on their social media marketing with her quick and affordable Coach fLO program

By Chelsea Duggan

Currently, I’m embarrassingly pregnant. You know, the “beep-when-you-back-up” pregnant. It’s definitely slowed me down as I balance chasing kids, growing a baby, and nurturing my business. The ninja in my belly reminds me that I need to focus on growing one baby at a time. For business, this means focusing my attention on the customer experience in the same way I’ve focused on my pregnancy.

Just like in your first trimester, it’s important to feed customers the right information. Is your website clear and concise? Do your newsletters inspire action steps? Is your contact information readily available? Making connections with busy customers means you have to keep things moving and make things as easy on your customers and yourself as possible. To accomplish this, make a list of all of the ways you connect with your customers and figure out if there are ways to make it easier, faster, and more fun.

In your second trimester, you’re letting the weight of your relationship build towards a greater level of trust. Allow your customer insights into your company by offering that little bit extra. Customers keep coming back when they know they are getting new and relevant information and services. There is no right way, rather, you’re continually evolving and sharing with your customers. Your customers want to be heard and they want to know their voice matters. Why not offer a Twitter question hour to get to the heart of what is important to your customers and your business. Don’t be afraid to share the journey.

In your third trimester, you’re in the final stretch of nurturing your relationship. How do you ensure that you’ve taken care of your customers after the point of sale? Continue to sing sweetly to your customers through your channels such as newsletters, blog posts, and twitter so that everyone can continue to grow together. You might also look at your products and see how they might evolve and grow with your customers. How can you continue to offer value and hopefully repeat the sale cycle together? Just like you would pack a hospital bag you need to have an essentials checklist for your customers to see where you’re meeting needs and where you may have forgotten.

Growing a business is not so different from growing a child. You need to love and nurture it, work on small steps so great leaps can occur, and remember that it’s a journey worth taking. Now, onto the next baby!

Chelsea Duggan:: An entrepreneur, parent and advocate for early childhood development through creative education, Chelsea Duggan is the Founder and Director of Milestar Babies. This innovative online resource enables busy parents to have an influential impact on newborn children, up to three years in age. Chelsea’s background in education – a passion she shares with her two children, so they themselves can enjoy a lifelong interest in learning – is at the center of Milestar Babies. That commitment to excellence starts with shared moments and teacher-designed lessons, which parents can further customize, so children can discover, synthesize and pursue their own discoveries. Chelsea believes that every child is an amazing individual, who deserves to learn at his or her own pace. This kid-tested, parent-approved philosophy is Chelsea’s distinctive concept, complemented by the convenience of the Internet and her dynamic site. A graduate of Northwestern and a member of the Chicago Women Entrepreneurs Network, Chelsea welcomes the opportunity to interact with parents and children throughout the nation and the world.

 

 

 

 

By Amber Davis

I have a confession! I love chaos, I actually thrive on it. It also causes me great stress, anxiety and the need for lots of vacations from real life. However, it is the life I have chosen!

The trend in Direct Sales is to sell for numerous companies. It seems to be happening a lot among the circles of different companies.

It used to be when you sold for a company you were dedicated and true only to that company. In many cases it was listed in your contract (you know the one no one reads well) that you couldn’t sell for another DS company, or couldn’t sell for a competitor company (selling similar products), finally what affected me personally, was you couldn’t be in a leadership role and sell for another company. The last clause listed was a major decision in my life. After 15 years with one company I decided to take a risk on a fairly new company. I had zero desire to do anymore direct sales and considered myself a kit nabber (paying for the kit and doing nothing)  yet in order to do this I had to step down as a leader with my beloved, long time company! It took me years of hard work to become a leader! Stepping down was hard!

I kept on as a consultant for three years before totally retiring from that company. It was hard to leave! I had learned so much, developed many amazing relationships, my degree is marketing and business admin so a true love for company A quickly developed. They had good systems, structure and strong ethics! I was able to be a work at home mom, travel and contribute financially to our budget.  Sending my retirement letter was a relief but also a sad day for me.

I have quickly grown with the new company and was neglecting the first company.  Selling for both seemed hard for me.. I only have one pool of customers and I wasn’t comfortable asking them to purchase from both. Requirements also say you can’t send emails, set up events or promote 2 companies together. So everything is required to be separate. Double work if you ask me!

While I made an attempt to be successful at more than one I found it challenging. If you truly want to be successful in direct sales it does require work!  Don’t let anyone fool you, it’s not easy!

It can be done but there is only one of YOU! Mother, wife, daughter, friend, neighbor and worker. How much time and energy can you devote to each thing? Is it best to pick one and do it extremely well? How do you know which one to pick?

Is it manageable to be successful for numerous DS companies? I have a Leader on my team who is proving it can be done and done well. She is excelling with two companies! I could not be happier for her.

Since starting this article I have been reading and researching and the trend seems to be working two or more DS companies.. Typically, women picking a primary and secondary company but it’s working, working well, and they are truly successful and brilliant women!

I am getting older and my career has now been established in direct sales. Do I LOVE doing parties? Not always, but it’s part of my ‘job’ as a leader! Do I LOVE leading my team to achieve their goals – absolutely!!!! Do I LOVE working from home – YES! Do I love the relationships I have developed – 100% YES! Travel, meetings, personal growth! Direct Sales can offer a lot!

Knowing which company will put you at the top, the girl on fire, the girl on stage, the girl earning trips and collecting the big paycheck that’s hard.

I do know with hard work, devotion and effort you can achieve this with any company! Maybe numerous companies.

So what’s the answer?

  • Find a company that is established – 5+ years in existence so they have programs and systems to support you!
  • Find a product you can stand behind and believe in!
  • Seek a company with good values!
  • Choose a company that your region can afford. This may sound weird but I am 2 hours to a major city. Many of my clients are stay at home moms, teachers, factory workers, etc. Their budget doesn’t allow room for a lot of  extras!
  • Join a company with no territories. I have team members and customers all over the country! Thanks to social media and websites this is possible!
  • Pick an affordable kit that you can keep if things don’t’ proceed as you planned!
  • Sign up under someone professional! This is HUGE! Some girls dabble in direct sales and that’s great! Extra income, fun, discount on products, free stuff and they get what they want and get out. Totally ok. That’s not the girl to sign up under….even if she is your BF! You want a sponsor who is working at growth, who attends meetings and knows what’s happening with the company. Your sponsor is the first person you are going to go to for HELP! You want them to actually know what they are doing!

Amber Davis is a 17 year direct sales associate and currently director for at Thirty One Gifts.  Holding a degree in business administration and marketing, she previously worked in the business industry. After the birth of her second child; family took priority over work and she left her full time position. Now a mother of four, she believes firmly in direct Sales and the endless opportunity it provides! “I can’t imagine ever returning to a traditional 9-5 job,” she said. She firmly believes in doing what works for your family. She often helps her husband on the family farm. Her Facebook page can be found here. In her free time she loves to travel and enjoys volunteering.