Storytelling is what sets your brand apart when it comes to communicating to your consumers what you’re really all about. Anyone can tell people what they do. And anyone can tell shoppers what they sell. The secret lies in telling your brand story—who you are, why you are, what you are—in a way that resonates and makes it all meaningful to consumers. The WAY you tell your story will stick with people and determine the success of your business. It’s up to you, and it’s all about the story you tell.
This rings true in business, especially as the marketplace becomes more crowded with businesses struggling to be seen by consumers. Consider the likelihood that in many businesses or dealerships, the products and services being served up to the public are much the same as those being offered by competitors, and if all else is equal, what is to make a business stand apart?
Stories form the backbone of all you are offering consumers as a collection of products, services, and capabilities; and best of all the stories that are part of your dealership are unique to you. By weaving together a picture of ideas and experiences, you are creating meaningful customer relationships that will help to form a bond built on loyalty and trust. Rather than simply selling your wares, you are building a brand presence and gaining solid footing with customers who will find your business more credible and trustworthy because they feel a connection to you through your story.
All that sounds great, but many may still be wondering how to go about the actual storytelling. When you think about the fact that storytelling is a natural thing that has been around as long as we can remember, it helps to put things into perspective and make this whole “telling” and “resonating” thing sound a little more doable. A story is the way a person (or business) chooses to tell about his or her journey, and it encompasses all the events and meaningful characters that have played a part along the way. Your story is what will compel shoppers to choose your dealership over the many others that are vying for their business.
Storytelling has always been an intrinsic part of society. It is the way we pass along information, remember history, and influence people—and when it comes to business, the art of storytelling is much the same. When you consider how you will tell the story of your dealership, keep in mind the things you most want your customers to know.
Show them how you are unique. What does your dealership do that is unique to make it stand out in the community? Do you support local high school teams? Do you regularly hold events like car-care clinics to help educate the public? Are you active with a local pet adoption program? Share with your shoppers the things that make you a local original and be sure to invite your customers to join in when you sponsor events. The best way to grow and be recognized is to continue to spread the word about the great things you are doing. You aren’t like everyone else. Your story is unique, so let it shine!
Use social media to broadcast your story. You probably don’t have too many customers who aren’t on social media, so if you want your story to be heard, you’ll need to brush up on your social media strategy. Be sure to get visual. Online audiences like pictures, videos, and infographics!
Inspire customers with your culture. When customers walk into a place of business that has a great culture, they know it. How? They know it because they can feel it. They are immediately greeted by engaged employees who are happy to be doing their jobs, and instead of walking into a dealership where everyone is simply going through the motions, they walk into a car-buying experience. When the foundation of your dealership is a culture of excellence and engagement, it is evident to everyone who walks through the showroom doors. This is part of your story, and it is told by the people who form the dealership culture every day.
Share your dealership’s history. Is your dealership family-owned? Does it come from a long line of proud, hard-working local men and women? Whatever the history of your dealership, be proud to share it with your customers. They will find a bond with the feeling of family and the reminder that you are a part of the hometown history they share.
Offer to solve customer problems. Customers appreciate it when you understand their frustrations. You become a part of their story when you empathize and understand where they are coming from. There aren’t many things as frustrating as car problems—from repairs to financing to maintenance—so when a dealership can step in and smooth the way, it is recognized and appreciated.
Stand for something. What does your dealership stand for? Does your maintenance department unequivocally offer the fastest tire rotations in town? Then stand for that! But if your dealership offers a customer experience that is out-of-this-world and amazing, then stand for that. Whatever it is you stand for, make it known. The thing you stand for should be woven into every part of your dealership; it is your story, so talk about it.
Tell it here, tell it there, tell it everywhere. Your story is something you are proud of; in fact everyone in your dealership should be proud of it. It should be shared with everyone who sets foot in the dealership, and every employee should be encouraged to shout it from the mountaintops—or at least on Facebook and Twitter. Your employees have a MUCH greater online reach than your dealership alone, so encourage them to spread your story and be proud of the dealership where they work. After all, it’s not just a dealership; it’s a story.
Listen to your customers’ stories. From feedback to buyers’ angst to financing woes, whatever your customers are telling you is part of their story. When your dealership becomes a good listener, it will help your bottom line. You will be able to better receive and respond to feedback, both online and in person, and you will be able to react quickly to shopper needs and requests, allowing you to be a more responsive sales leader. It’s a win-win when you become a great listener as well as a great storyteller.
Remember, your brand is your story. And in order for a story to be interesting and engaging, there are several elements to consider. Don’t forget the details and don’t forget your brand’s personality. Remember to surround your customers with the experiences and culture of your dealership, and you will be giving them a way to emotionally connect with your brand. By infusing your brand with personality, you are refusing to get lost in the sea of dealerships and marketing messages that are out there today, and customers will recognize your dealership for the clearly-defined brand story it provides. Be epic in your storytelling and be authentic; your dealership will thank you for it.