In the United States, there are 128,653 catering companies, 39,781 wedding planning companies, and 324,652 event services companies (source: IBIS World). In a sea of competition, how will you stick out?
If you are like many of us in the events industry, right now you are doubling down on building out your marketing efforts because referrals and word-of-mouth marketing are not as prevalent in our current landscape. You may be working on attracting just the right couples with lead magnets, attempting to convert those couples into 2021 bookings using email marketing, and writing killer sales letters to turn those leads into sales. But all of the top planners, caterers, and event specialists are doing the same thing. How will you differentiate yourself in the minds of your potential clients?
You need to add the “why” to your marketing messages, which will lend texture to your story and expand the mindsets of your prospects. The traditional marketing funnel’s goal is to take a stranger and turn them into a customer. Over time, you use a variety of tactics to nudge your ideal customer towards spending their money with you. But, as would-be clients are spending more time safer at home, they are being inundated with digital marketing that could drown out your attempts to reach them.
It’s time to take your basic marketing funnel and supercharge it with vertical storytelling. Vertical storytelling provides context and relatability to you and your services so that your ideal customer can more tangibly imagine working with you. It helps depict potent imagery that effectively motivates them to deepen the relationship with you and helps you more easily close the deal. Whereas the marketing funnel outlines actions and micro conversions along a horizontal timeline, vertical storytelling injects those actions with meaning and purpose that relate directly to the solution to your customer’s problem.
3 Vertical Storytelling Techniques to Differentiate Yourself From Your Competition
1. Tell the Backstory
Create feelings of closeness and affinity by talking about you and your clients’ journeys toward success. What obstacles have you had to overcome personally and professionally? What were some of the more challenging event experiences that you valiantly used your skill and expertise to guide your couples and hosts through? Prospects will begin to see themselves in the backstories and think of you as more “same” than “other.”
People are more likely to have a positive perception of someone with whom they have something in common. By strategically sharing, you can grab the attention of your leads and build relationships more quickly. Like attracts like.
2. Play With Memory Associations
Do you remember when you were in school, and you memorized the grouping of the planets in the solar system using the mnemonic device “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas?” Or did you finally grasp the order of operations in pre-algebra by saying, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally?” You were associating words to draw a connection between two previously unrelated items. You can do the very same thing with your vertical storytelling messages.
Begin to create vivid mental images or even mnemonic devices that associate your business with a feeling of success. Repeat the depiction of those images consistently to give your potential customers a memory system that ties you to the attainment of their goals. Tell stories that get ideas to stand out because they are unexpected or iconic. Paint the picture and design the event in their minds to showcase your creativity and spark their imaginations.
For example, if you are a planner that wants to be known for luxury micro-weddings, your Instagram photos could include small trinkets like a gold purse keychain or mini terrariums. You could speak about how you add little touches to your décor because, although the event is small, the details are huge.
3. Start a Philosophical Discourse
Many hosts perform tasks and traditions when planning a wedding or party because they always have been done. Invite your potential clients to dive into the meaning behind their actions to get them to think about them and consciously make decisions better aligned with their image of success. Posing a counter perspective allows space for contemplation in your marketing messages and the opportunity for you to have increased engagement with your audience, especially on social media.
Do your Instagram followers know that the bouquet toss was started by the need for brides to escape the rather violent clutches of their wedding guests? Back in the day, attendees thought it was good luck to touch the bride, so they would attempt to rip off parts of her dress or bouquet in hopes that their fortunes would improve. Instead of staying and being torn to bits, brides would throw their bouquets and make a run for it. Now that your soonlyweds are aware of this awkward history, how could you help them imagine a different option for their wedding? What thought-provoking question could you ask in your next post to invite their ideas?
Use vertical storytelling to give your brand’s narrative depth, texture, tension, and resonance. All of those elements will help your brand bind to the thought processes of leads, who will have you top-of-mind when it comes time to make a purchase decision. When they can palpably imagine what it would be like to work with you, they will be eager to engage your services to manifest their vision into reality.