customers marketing

When someone tells a good story, the audience is enchanted. A good story sparks the imagination. Storytellers understand that narratives resonate when the audience sees themselves in the story.

In waving the flag about storytelling, I can see how it can be challenging for startups to comprehend. For them, stories aren’t a corporate activity and they have little insight into how to embrace storytelling.

In thinking about how to better explain why storytelling matters, a key theme emerged: storytelling is customer-centric marketing. Whether it is a Website, sales sheet, video or a white paper, stories need to be about the customer and their experiences. As Brian Solis suggests, the focus on the customer is completely changing how marketing is done.

Storytelling works when the customer relates to what they’re reading, seeing or hearing. The stories reflect their needs, goals, problems, and aspirations. Good stories excite, inspire, motivate, enlighten and entertain. They make the audience believe the storyteller gets them.

It is important to appreciate this customer-centric approach because it shapes a startup’s selling and marketing. When a startup tells stories, it is about the audience, rather than being about the company and its products.

In other words, it’s a you, not me proposition.

There are some simple ways to see if marketing and sales activity is customer-centric:

  1. Is it easy for a potential customer to see how a product could impact how they do business or their lives?
  2. Are the benefits front and center, rather than features or price?
  3. Does it highlight the experience of using the product?
  4. Is it easy to get a taste, before asking consumers to provide more information.
  5. Are these stories being told in places where consumers hang out?
  6. Are you crafting stories that are easily digestible and shareable?

Brands that grasp the power of storytelling follows these “rules” religiously. Everything they do is about the customer.

The marketing developed by Airbnb, for example, is super-focused on the experience of traveling and feeling at home no matter where you go. It is never about the platform or using the product because this is not what interests consumers.

While storytelling can be challenging to understand, it is a friendlier creature when engaging, educating or entertaining the customer is the primary objective.


If you’re looking to jump-start your startup marketing, I can help you make it happen – every from messaging and brand positioning to strategic planning and content development. I published a book, Storytelling for Startups, that provides strategic and tactical guidance to entrepreneurs looking to embrace the power of story-driven marketing.

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