Share your story to build your brand

young man walking among library shelves filled with books

User engagement expert Donna Lichaw helps startups, non-profits and global brands optimise their digital products and services. She’ll be sharing pro insight into how to build your brand at Generate New York 2018. Get your ticket now.

As the old philosophical conundrum states: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? You might be creating the best product or service you could imagine, but if you have no audience the chances are that falling tree, when you launch, makes very little sound.

When launching something new, it’s important to have an interested audience in place. One way to do that is to share your story as you confront the challenges of building your brand head-on.

Don’t wait until everything’s finished to start sharing your story. The end is only the beginning: the journey to that end point is an interesting and overlooked part of the story. Share that story, and you can start to build an interested audience while you work on putting the finishing touches in place.

One way to do this is to build a mailing list. Email newsletters are incredibly effective and, according to Campaign Monitor, email marketing is the king of the marketing kingdom, with a 3,800 per cent ROI generating $38 for every dollar spent. Even better, dedicated tools like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and others are incredibly easy to use with very shallow learning curves.

When I launched Start! Stop Procrastinating and Pursue Your Passion, it was my email newsletter that drove the most traffic, by quite a substantial margin. Twitter was useful, but it paled in comparison when connecting with others through their inboxes.

Tell, don’t sell

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with content, it can be incredibly hard to keep up. Rivers of content, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all too quickly become overwhelming. Stepping outside of the flow, through a carefully considered journal or email newsletter, offers a way to connect with other like-minded individuals who‚ contrary to what you might have been led to believe‚ are hungry for useful information.

Don’t just sell; tell. People buy stories by people, so spend some time developing your brand’s story. What are you focused on? What might you share that others might find useful? Great newsletters focus on sharing ideas that are thought-provoking and helpful. There’s a world of information on the web; what’s sorely missing are ways to filter all of that information. Distil down your discoveries and your audience will thank you.

Newsletters like Hiut Denim’s Chicken Shed Chronicles attract an audience because it’s the product of hard work and intense focus. It’s also light on the hard sell, instead focusing on helping others. It’s critical to value your readers’ time; put the effort in and create value and your audience will thank you.

Build a list and, when your product’s ready to launch, you’ll have a group of like-minded individuals that are bought into your vision and values. Many will happily repay your efforts by supporting you in return for all the hard work you put in along the way.

This article originally appeared in net magazine issue 293. Buy it here.

Want to learn more about how to engage users?

Donna Lichaw is giving her talk Story First: Crafting Products That Engage at Generate New York from 25 - 27 April 2018

Donna Lichaw is giving her talk Story First: Crafting Products That Engage at Generate New York from 25 - 27 April 2018

Donna Lichaw helps startups, non-profits, and global brands optimise their digital products and services by providing them with a simplified way to drive user engagement.

In her talk at Generate New York from 25-27 April 2018, Lichaw will discuss how we often overlook one of the oldest, leanest, most effective tools out there: the structurally sound story.

Whether you realise it or not in the moment, you experience everything as if it was a story. The better the story, the more likely you are to want to use a product, continue to use it, pay to use it, and recommend it to others. Find out how to drive user engagement through story at Generate.  

Get your Generate New York ticket now.

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Christopher Murphy is a writer, designer and speaker based in Belfast. He's a passionate educator, mentor to creative entrepreneurs, and the author and publisher of Tiny Books.