‘Event Cancelled’ may be the motto of summer 2020 but XpoNorth’s annual conference is going ahead virtually and providing welcome support and guidance to Scottish arts and heritage companies.
Content strategist Bridget McNulty opened the two-day festival this week with a storytelling clinic for independent businesses.
“I think this was easier in the old days when we were able to interact with people, and everything wasn’t so digital,” says McNulty.
“Your brand was your store or your physical presence, and maybe a business card. These days, it’s every moment that someone interacts with your brand.
“This is especially important in the time of COVID because we don’t have the time that we used to. We have such a short amount of time that we need to grab people’s attention, and we need to tell them immediately what it is that we offer and why that’s special.”
During the session, Mcnulty gave tailored advice to businesses selling everything from cashmere quilts to outdoor adventures.
Here are some of her tips that any business can try.
1. Smash your brand
In the 1950s, Coca Cola commissioned a glass bottle that was so distinctive and recognisable that even if the bottle was broken and someone found just one piece, they would know that it came from a Coca Cola bottle.
McNulty suggests thinking of your total presence like a broken coke bottle made of many brand identifiable pieces.
“That means if someone comes to your website, or they see an ad somewhere, a Google ad, or they see a clip of a video, or they see an Instagram photo, or they see a business card, or they see your product itself, or someone tells them about your product, all of that comes into it.
“You want to have a cohesive story and a cohesive message throughout. It’s your website and your social media, but it’s also the stories that people tell about your brand. And it’s the experiences they have and the reviews that they leave.”
2. Get your story straight
“It’s really important that everyone in your team knows what your brand story is,” says McNulty. “Get them together and talk about the five things that everyone needs to know about your company. And then if someone says ‘what does your company do?’, everyone has the same answer.
“Then other people can take that kernel away, and tell their friends and families about, and that’s how brands spread.”
3. To solve the pain, you have to highlight the pain
Immediately pinpointing the issue or pain point that your product can solve for customers is vital as sometimes the message can become lost in other information. McNulty recommends ensuring that you have five essential facts you want people to know and that they are accessible as soon as customers interact with your brand.
“The goal with websites is to make sure that everything before you have to scroll, is the most important stuff. So if someone comes to your site, and that’s all they see they get a really good idea of what it is that you offer that can help that pain point.”
4. Choose your platform
“If you are just starting out or if you don’t have a big team, then you can choose which platform works for you best and then double down on that,” says McNulty.
If your business is only on Instagram, then you can flesh out your page with saved stories highlighting your story. Alternatively, if you rely more on your website, it must be fresh and updated.
“Twitter’s generally for news and up to the minute things. It serves a community aspect because something can trend if you have a hashtag, but it’s more for shooting out information and opinions,” says Mcnulty.
“Facebook has a really lovely community aspect, in terms of bringing people together.
“If you have beautiful things to show, I think there’s a real sense of escapism in Instagram that we can’t find that other social media. It also seems to matter less if you have a smaller following to begin with. It’s more about what the feelings you evoke are.”
- Bridget McNulty is the founder of Sweet Life, an online diabetes community for South Africans, and Now Novel, an online novel-writing website that helps aspiring writers start and finish their books.