FAQ – Storytelling for decorators

It’s a difficult time for many businesses, and decorators are no different. It’s a constantly evolving situation where rules seem to change more often than the weather, and customers, whether they be domestic or commercial, are often cancelling or postponing work due to health concerns. So it’s more important than ever to make sure you’ve got a pipeline of customers waiting for your services, and however you promote your business, you’ll need stories…

As humans, we’re drawn in by stories. Since ancient times they’ve helped us connect to each other and make sense of the world around us – from oral storytelling around the campfire, to classic novels, to films and the latest Netflix series.
  But what’s this got to do with you and your decorating business? We tend to do business with people we know, like and trust. That’s why personal recommendations are such a great way to get business – other people telling stories about what great work you do.

Storytelling in print

Even the words and the font you use on your van will say something about your business – modern, traditional, friendly, professional? The same applies to print adverts, and advertising cards you post through letterboxes near jobs you’re doing. They cost money, so make sure the story you’re telling in the few words and pictures is an engaging and professional one, get help from a graphic designer if you can.

Storytelling online

Most potential customers will find tradespeople online now, whether it’s a Google search or a Facebook request. Even if someone recommends you, it’s likely that a potential customer will check you out online. Having some good stories in your online presence will set you apart from the crowd.

How to tell a story

One of the classic storytelling structures used for thousands of years, is the ‘hero’s journey’. Aristotle wrote about it as a ‘three act structure’ of plays, but it’s basically ‘the set up, the obstacle, the solution’.
  Donald Miller, in his great business book Building A Storybrand puts it another way, “meet the hero – they have a problem – they meet a guide – who gives them a plan – and a call to action – the hero avoids being overcome by the problem – and succeeds in their quest.”
  This structure is used in books and films from Star Wars and Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings and The Matrix.
  You can use this basic structure to tell stories about how you solve people’s problems in all your marketing using a ‘before and after’ Facebook post, a blog, or a video. But, there’s one classic mistake many of us make – we write as if we are the hero. The best way to connect to a potential customer is for them to be the hero, with you as the guide. They are Frodo or Luke Skywalker, you are Gandalf or Obi Wan Kenobi.

One of the classic storytelling structures used for thousands of years, is the ‘hero’s journey’. Aristotle wrote about it as a ‘three act structure’ of plays, but it’s basically ‘the set up, the obstacle, the solution’.
  Donald Miller, in his great business book Building A Storybrand puts it another way, “meet the hero – they have a problem – they meet a guide – who gives them a plan – and a call to action – the hero avoids being overcome by the problem – and succeeds in their quest.”
  This structure is used in books and films from Star Wars and Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings and The Matrix.
  You can use this basic structure to tell stories about how you solve people’s problems in all your marketing using a ‘before and after’ Facebook post, a blog, or a video. But, there’s one classic mistake many of us make – we write as if we are the hero. The best way to connect to a potential customer is for them to be the hero, with you as the guide. They are Frodo or Luke Skywalker, you are Gandalf or Obi Wan Kenobi.

How to make your customer the hero

Instead the story being about how wonderful you are, tell it from your client’s point of view. Remember, it’s their quest to transform their property, and your job to help them do that. Here’s an example:

“Denise, a company director from Bristol, needed to turn her dark dining room into a home office. She found us from a recommendation. We helped Denise choose a light, neutral paint colour as a good backdrop for video calls. Denise needed to be on video calls every weekday, so we used our dust-free sanders to do all the prep at the weekend and the quieter painting during the week. The job was done in four days to a very high standard. Denise said ‘my colleagues keep on complimenting me on how good my new office looks.”

Denise is the hero on her quest for a new home office, and you are the expert guide. A potential customer will find it easier to connect with Denise’s story, and imagine how you can help them to solve their decorating problem.

Your turn to tell the story

Making your customer the hero may seem like a subtle change in emphasis, but it makes all the difference. Think about how car adverts focus on the gorgeous lifestyle of the driver, not the expertise of the manufacturer.
  So think about how you can make your customers’ quest part
of your marketing, it’s a great technique for really connecting with potential clients, and it’s unlikely your competition will be doing it.

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