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Everyone likes to tell interesting stories just as much as they like to hear them. The reality is – interesting stories sell. The trick for businesses is to listen to a customer’s story and create a solution (if needed).

In order for brands to stay at the forefront of innovation they must exploit customers’ frustrations before their competition. While some brands are shouting out about new products and how great they are, others are quietly listening and taking note of consumers’ annoyances. Simply listening to your customer can transform the way your business functions. A customer’s story is an important tale of their experience with a product. Whether this is a fairytale or a nightmare, there will be aspects of the story that can be taken and adapted (if needed) positively.

Use Social Media sites as ‘listening platforms’

With the increase in social media activity, story driven marketing has become easier to uncover. Previously, marketing teams would have to create surveys and arrange focus groups. As a way to speed up this process brands are encouraged to use social media sites as ‘listening platforms’. Consumers have become much more involved with brands, whether they are posting a picture on Pinterest with their new purchase or tweeting about how disappointed they are with a new product change. By listening to each of these thoughts, a brand can understand what kinds of stories are being told.

Brands have to find the customers desire and create a story around that. A prime example is BT. Since 2005 BT has entwined a story driven approach into their marketing campaigns using a family’s life as a storyline. There were several plots in this campaign including; moving in with stepchildren, girlfriend troubles and a marriage, each of which effected different members of the family – ultimately giving each ad a high level of empathy. BT took this consumer engagement to a new level when BT introduced a ‘cliff hanger’ and invited their audience to vote on the outcome. Over 1.6 million viewers voted and the out come was for Jane (The Mother) to become pregnant.

Ask the question directly…

Rather than trying to guess the consumers story, BT asked the question directly. This had other benefits also; BT could analyse how successful the engagement side of the campaign had been and could also drive increased traffic to social media sites where a further connection could be made. BT is still running with the family ad campaign, however, the children are older and now at university, giving BT a new target audience.

A company can easily understand how a product can fit into a new customer need by simply listening to their stories. A business does not have to go as direct as BT did, it just has to build a relationship with its consumers. Look at it, as a relationship between two people, if your partner is struggling then you will try to make things simpler and attempt to improve them. Although slightly one-sided, it is the same in a relationship between brand and customer.

This is exactly the same in the catalogue industry, we need to empathise with our customers and alter to any needs that emerge. Here at Catalogues 4 Business we know our customer’s story and how to tell it through their catalogue.

We know exactly how to create the story for you.

Ian Simpson, Managing Director of Catalogues4Business and Digital4Business