Selling by Compelling Storytelling

Do you remember when Starbuck’s came to Australia around 2000? Their communication strategy had big ads with a steam boat arriving and the message “We’re saving Australia from bad coffee!” There was clearly a lack of market research, and the result was shown with the closure of a vast majority of the outlets announced in 2010 and an accumulated loss of $143 million since they opened here 15 years ago.

There were two reasons for this failure, first of all, to succeed in any market, you need a solid product-market fit. This was clearly not the case with the bitter, weak and sweet smoothies Starbucks serves up. This is compared to the Italian style espresso coffee we Aussies love. Secondly, targeted story telling is critical and to tell Aussies that the American coffee is better than our coffee is, well, not the best way to tell a story. They said “That’s not how you drink coffee; this is how you drink coffee.”

With the over 6500 independent coffee shops we have in Australia, as consumers we are spoiled rotten for choice. And for the shop owners, there is a strong need to differentiate to stand out from the competition.

There are some basic things to do, apart from having a solid quality product to serve up each time.

Superior customer service, good opening hours and an environment suited for the target audience are some of these basic things. But to really stand out and succeed, to be able to outperform the competitors, you need to have a compelling story to tell to your customers.

If you have a fair trade, organic coffee shop and you send parts of the takings to help the children at the plantation with education, you have a quality differentiator that makes a fantastic story. If you were born and raised in Turkey and have a passion for the Turkish coffee tradition that you want to sing the gospel of, then you have a compelling story for your brands communication. Each business have their own story to tell, and it’s important, both for the internal perspective of culture and belonging as well as the customer side to have the right customers identify themselves with the business.

We make decisions to buy on emotions, and justify them with logic.
Use the story to wake the emotions!

The best marketing strategy there is, is to have a clearly differentiated business with a strong product – market fit. And to take this as far as possible, you should use story telling as a tool to get the message across.

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About the Author: Amelia Veale

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