"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
Now, it’s nearly time to get in the studio and start shaping your story. But first, it’s time to figure out what you would say and how you would say it. And here’s where the biggest fears arise: not knowing where to start or what to say. We help calm these fears of the unknown.
Joe: Hi, there. I’m Joe Dudeck, President and founder of Keyhole Marketing.
Shannon: And I’m Shannon Jirik. I work for Keyhole as the Assistant Brand Manager.
Joe: And this is Metaphorically Speaking, a podcast that explores the mysterious side of marketing.
Joe: Hello again, welcome back to Metaphorically Speaking, and our continuing conversation on how to craft your business story. Today we’re gonna sort of get in the studio like an artist would in crafting that story, that’s actually putting it together a little bit. And I know for clients that I work with one of their biggest questions in these conversations is, “Where would I even start? How would I start telling the story? What do I even have to say?” And we’re gonna help calm some of those fears today. That’s the plan at least.
Shannon: That is the plan. So to kind of kick us off with our reflection, I wanted to share a quote from Maya Angelo, that says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Shannon: So I think that just applies really well to what we’re talking about, because we know that you’ve got a story inside of you. We know that everyone does, and it can feel like a burden not to be able to communicate that well, and not know how to paint that. So, we’re just excited to get that untold story and bring it to life.
Joe: Yeah, get that business story out there for people to hear it. And we’re gonna start today with a rapid fire questioning of Shannon. Hopefully some questions she knows that answers to.
Joe: And we’ll explain later why we’re doing this, but let’s get to the questions first.
Shannon: All right.
Joe: When were you born?
Shannon: We’re going all the way back to 1996.
Joe: Oh my gosh. I have a pair of pants older than that I think. Where was that?
Shannon: Normal, Illinois.
Joe: And your parents names?
Shannon: Mike and Kristie.
Joe: Were you the first born?
Shannon: I’m not, I’m number two.
Joe: How many siblings do you have?
Shannon: I have five siblings.
Shannon: I know.
Joe: And you just graduated not too long ago.
Joe: What did you study?
Shannon: I studied Communications and Leadership. Graduated in December 2017.
Joe: Okay, and why did you land on that degree?
Shannon: To be honest I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went into college and somebody told me I might be good in communications. So, here I am.
Joe: Should talk to that person.
Shannon: Yeah, they might have been wrong.
Joe: Here you are in a booth with me giving a podcast. Name me a few people in your life that impacted you?
Shannon: Definitely my parents are a huge factor in that. So grateful to them. My siblings, the same. A lot of us are just really close in age and really close together. I’ve got a couple of great friends that I met in college as well. I don’t know if you want specific names or not. And I guess you can be one of them.
Joe: Wow. I was going to cough over here if it wasn’t… made the list. Thank you for reading that script the way I wrote it. Last question, what are some things you want to accomplish?
Shannon: I really want to go to the moon. But that’s sadly not possible. Cause I don’t weigh enough. Yeah. So I’m rethinking my life plan now.
Shannon: And I’m pursuing marketing.
Joe: It revolved around the moon?
Shannon: Yeah. I kind of see myself as a learner right now, but eventually I would love to just be able to teach or do training and development. I love what I get to do now, so yeah. Does that answer some of those?
Joe: Those were all accurate. Good job. So the reason we did that–other than just putting Shannon under the spotlight for fun is–wanted to help explain how businesses can come up with their own story just by answering just some very similar questions. There are some facts that you know about your business that’s helped to start telling your story. If you start populating that story with information. You can ask yourself questions like…when were you founded? And where? Who were your founders names? How did you end up in this field? How did this business get started? How did you personally, if you’re a small business owner, get started in this field? And why does it matter to you? And, where do you hope to be in ten years? The business itself, or you as a person?
Shannon: I think that’s interesting. I think we forget to go back to when it was founded and who founded it.
Shannon: That’s interesting.
Joe: And it all seems like basic information, but again, it’s the beginning of a story.
Joe: Those are the facts that somebody wants to find out. So let’s do a couple more rapid fire questions.
Shannon: Whew, I’m ready.
Joe: You ready?
Shannon: I’m so ready.
Joe: What colors are on your bedroom wall?
Shannon: Sad how long I actually have to think about this but, blue and tan.
Joe: Blue and tan…
Shannon: Separate walls.
Joe: Separate… okay. Music you last listened to?
Shannon: I’ve been listening to The Band Camino recently.
Joe: The last photo you took on your phone?
Shannon: I took a picture of the wine I was drinking last night.
Joe: Perfect. As a true millennial would. And the last text you sent?
Shannon: I think I was telling you that I was just waking up when I was supposed be five minutes away from Indiana.
Joe: Yes, that was scary, scary. So there’s another point to this exercise as well. There’s things that you’re telling about your business that may not be as concrete as the facts that we just talked about, or may not be on your specific website. But it may be in the emails that you’re sending people, so in Shannon’s example, the texts that she might be sending people. But in the emails that you’re putting out there. Any PDF’s or word docs that you might be using internally but you’re… maybe you prepared those for a customer and they haven’t been externally presented out on your website or something. Or maybe photographs that you’ve taken over the years. Again they may not be public, but maybe on your social media account. Or the staff that you’ve hired–they’re definitely a piece of your story.
Any customers that you’ve served, they’re part of that story as well. And I think even like, we talked about the walls in your bedroom, the colors that they are. You think about it, that’s part of your story as well. If somebody comes into your space, if you have an office, like that that says a message to somebody else. Or the music that you have playing when they come in, or even smells that come in, that enter their nasal passages I guess, when they come in.
I think about a business downtown Indianapolis, Just Pop-In, I mean they’re a popcorn place, if they didn’t have a popcorn smell going, that would be super sad.
Shannon: That would be a problem.
Joe: Nobody would want that product. That’s definitely part of their story. So now that we’ve got a better sense of where your story already lives… with the story that you’re telling intentionally or unintentionally through all these different ways. Now we have to start thinking how do we get that story out. And there’s a lot of different mediums. And if you think about an artist, there’s a lot of mediums they work in– and the same way for you as a business owner– when you get to have that story, now that it lives somewhere else, how do you craft that and then where do you… in what form are you putting that in?
So I think in content marketing we have a few different buckets that we think about. We think about written form, we think about audio form, we think about visual form. And we really do a lot of these for our clients. Not all of them, some things we bring in different vendors or specialists but we definitely is why we exist in creating these things.
So starting with the written pieces: one of our bread and butter things is blogs that we write for our clients. And if you’re not familiar with what a blog is, it’s really just a webpage on your site that provides some valuable content to a prospect or customers. Ours tend to be 500 words or more, and we write those all the time for our clients.
Thinking more about a website: there’s other forms of content, written content you can put on there that tell your story, so the About pages are super valuable for this. The Staff page, your bios and those types of things. Your Contact Us page, any landing pages that you might have. Landing pages being again, maybe a resource that somebody would want to download. That you would bring them to.
A newer thing that we started doing are content pillars. Just sort of longer, more in-depth types of blogs; it’s a new technique basically that helps generate some search engine optimization. Shannon has done a lot of these for clients. Maybe you can talk a little bit more about kind of what they are.
Shannon: Yeah so, this is kind of a technique that we adapted to because the world of Google is ever changing. It’s like you said, it’s actually a longer piece of content that’s closer to 2500 words or more versus a typical blog maybe being at 500. Essentially what it is, is it’s just a big bucket. It’s a big theme that you’ve identified, so within your company… what are some major things that you know you do, or are an expert in or can speak to very well? What do people have questions about those specific topics so, for our clients, I identified after just looking through all their content what some of these major themes were. Then you use those as your content pillar. But it’s essentially just a longer piece of content, that answers a lot of those questions, and it points to a lot of specific resources whether that be coming from social media or other blogs on your site, or questions that people have on this topic. So it’s really cool because it doesn’t have to just be words, either. You can include video or imagery or something like that.
Joe: Mmhm. So really just two things that Google cares about is that it’s a) long so that it indicates, wow there’s a lot of stuff to crawl here, a lot of words to crawl and a page to be indexed, and that it’s the more things that link to it, that also elevates its presence in their world. So those are the two things that really help it.
One more thought on that too is I think the beauty of it is, unlike a blog that you might put it out there and call it a day, it definitely has a life to it that you can continually add more and more things to it. And that just helps you keep that story fresh for everybody as they come to that page.
So a couple more written pieces of content that you could consider. Email marketing, so we’re thinking newsletters, maybe quarterly or monthly newsletters. Printing promotional things out there that you want people to see. Or like an introductory or welcome email that you might want to send to some people, those are just some examples of email marketing.
Customer case study is just a way to tell how you’ve helped a customer along the way with your products or services. There’s also longer form content, things like ebooks and whitepapers. These tend to live on landing pages where somebody would have to go there and they want to get to these whitepapers or ebooks but to do so they have to give up an email or phone number or a name to get that. It’s just a way to attract more visitors to your website. Press releases. I’ve kind of had a little bit of trauma from these in the past.
Shannon: Uh oh.
Joe: I used to work in PR.
Shannon: We don’t say press release.
Joe: I used to work in PR for years so I did get a little bit worn out by that industry. But there’s still good value of putting your story in that realm and giving it to journalists who can distribute it to their crowd.
Joe: And those tend to be more like latest news about your business or upcoming events or new products that you might want to release. And then finally, social media is another written form of content, so Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. These are easy ways for you to deliver the content, so a lot of stuff we just talked about above, the written pieces, this is a great outlet for how to share that with the world.
And then we get in to more visual: videography, photography. Those are two other forms of content that you put out there. We don’t tend to do videography as a business. We know other people who do it really well and to get it done well you need to find the right vendor. We do photography though and we primarily do architecture, staff photos, some of that kind of stuff within our business. But you may want to think about corporate head shots for your business or like your Google My Business listing maybe has no photos of your office or your space, those might be a good outlet or a good way for you to get some photography. Some products that you might want to focus or events you’re at. Those are definitely things to consider from a photography standpoint of content. And we like to help clients build a library of content so that it isn’t just one or two pieces but they have a whole slew of photos to reference back to.
Shannon: And don’t always have to use stock photography.
Joe: Exactly, yeah. And we do, full disclosure, we do use some stock photography, and there’s some good stuff out there, but the preference of course is to have your own library built up so you’re infused within your content.
Joe: And then last piece of content is in audio form. Things like this.
Shannon: Hey, oh.
Joe: Like us. This is a good example, that’s why we’re doing this just to give you one example of this. No, so this is another way to help your audiences. If your audience plays there, in this space. Maybe they don’t care, they would never listen to your product or service on a podcast, you have to know your audience well enough to know… is this a good outlet for them. And that’s really true with all those pieces we just listed. If they’re not readers, if they don’t like looking at photos, then you have to just re-think, what’s the best route.
Shannon: Yeah, exactly. Make sure you’re picking the content that’s right for you. Just keep that in mind. So you don’t have to get caught up in the look-a-like game, “Oh this business is doing that.” And even if it’s a business that’s similar to you, that doesn’t mean that you have to do everything that they’re doing.
Shannon: We just wanted to kind of throw a wide range of examples out there. There are more than even what we’ve talked about, but it could be a good first step to think about, “Oh that avenue looks interesting to me and I feel like it’s relevant for my business.”
Shannon: We keep referencing this, but continue to filter those decisions through your unique value proposition, through the people that you’re trying to target. Like you said, if somebody doesn’t want to look at a picture, which surprises me but, you never know. Then that might not be the way to reach them.
Joe: Yeah. So again, a lot of content in this episode, we understand that. And really just scratched the surface on some of this stuff. But a few key take-aways you might want to just reference or just take away from today. Start looking for your story in some of the obvious spots, that again, the facts about your business, the day you were founded, the founders their story behind it, why they did it. And then go back and kind of dig through some of those less obvious spots of your emails, your PDF’s your photographs, colors, smells. All those types of things.
Shannon: Yeah, there’s so much more there than you might think. You just have to kind of take the time to look into it.
Joe: Mmhm, exactly. And then once you have little bit more understanding of what your story is and where it already lives, now you can start you think about what are the best contact types should you be using based on your audience and who you are and should it be written, audio, visual, all of the above. But again as Shannon just said, let’s try not to compare ourselves against competition first. They may be in that space and may be doing it well, and you may find your own avenue to do that.
Shannon: Right. Or you may also do it well.
Joe: That’s right. That’s true.
Shannon: Yeah, so just again to kind of close it out. Take away a challenge: answer some of those basics of your own story, like Joe had mentioned. And because there can be lot to explore there, maybe like we talked about at the beginning, just finding some space for silence. Take some time off and come back to it, even. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. So just start to explore where that content might already live. We’re here to encourage you that you actually have a lot more than you think you do. So it’s just a matter of taking the time and initiative to find that. So explore what would be the best place for you to get your message out there. And have fun with that as always.
Joe: Perfect. So yeah, if we can help you in any way, identifying those pieces, helping you dig through and identifying your story and where it lives already, we’re happy to do that. As always, send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re happy to help. Thanks again, we’ll be back for one more final episode of season one.