The business world is a world of numbers, graphs, and charts. You can hardly succeed in any business environment if you don’t know how to design PowerPoint slides and create graphs and charts.
There is a heavy focus on data and statistics. While there is nothing wrong with numbers, graphs, and charts; they are neither concrete nor memorable. You know how many times you have struggled to stay awake in one of those presentations.
In the finance world, numbers, graphs, and charts are even more central. You probably believe that once you can show how the numbers work, the job is done. Many fintech companies rely on the power of numbers to gain more clients and grow their businesses. “You can see that the numbers show that our platform is more interactive with better UI/UX design.” “You can see that the numbers show that we offer the lowest interest rate on loans and mortgages in the industry.” You can fill in the rest.
However, in today’s business climate, consumers demand more than being shown the numbers and hard facts. They want a brand that understands them, empathizes with them, engages them, and connects with them at a deeper level.
Consumers want to be partners rather than mere names in a CRM software.
How do you navigate this current climate? How do you connect deeply with consumers, engage them, and show understanding and empathy?
The solution is something that is common in human experience but often neglected within the business environment – age-old storytelling.
Why stories work
Most of the ideas that have stuck with us from childhood came in the form of stories. Whether those stories came through novels, advertisements, or other forms of art, we still remember them.
Why? Because stories are memorable.
You might not remember some of the things you learned from high school, but you remember some exciting stories you heard even as a child.
Stories are memorable because they are concrete. Concrete ideas stick. The more we can visualize and imagine it, the more memorable it is. Stories, written or visual, captivate us as we imagine and visualize them.
Visualization and imagination are not even the most powerful features of stories. Stories draw us in. They invite us to see ourselves in the characters, our lives in the plot. We choose favourite characters, and as the story progresses, we even change them.
We quickly forget abstract ideas and concepts. You can remember, without much thought, some presentations you attended where you could not repeat the main ideas just a few hours later. Perhaps you attended lectures where you performed woefully when the instructor gave a test immediately after.
You are not alone. Abstract ideas and concepts don’t stick.
Stories lead us to make important life decisions. We don’t just remember stories; we act on them. They change our view of the world and ‘force’ us to think differently or reorder our priorities.
Emotion is the greatest driver of consumer decisions, and nothing gets us more emotional than a good story.
Below is an excerpt from an article by Charlie Claxton that exemplifies the power of storytelling:
“The University of Pennsylvania wanted to find the best way to raise money for Save the Children. They created two versions of a marketing leaflet. One featured statistics about the problems children face in Africa; the second featured the same statistics, but also told the story of Rokia, a 7-year old girl from Mali struggling against severe poverty.
The university gave participants in the study $5 to read the leaflets. After this, the researchers asked if the participants wanted to donate to Save the Children. Participants who had read the story gave almost twice as much money as those who’d only read the statistics—$2.38 vs. $1.43.”
As important as numbers, graphs, and charts are in the business world, storytelling must take the central stage in marketing, advertising, public relations, and branding. Here are domains where our favourite number-crunching must submit to a higher Lord.
Your consumers love stories. Your consumers remember stories. Your consumers act on stories that connect with them.
How can fintech companies create the human touch, connect deeply with consumers, engage them, and show understanding and empathy? Storytelling!!!
So how can your fintech company benefit from storytelling?
You can do this in two broad ways – by telling specific stories and using storytelling as a content strategy.
Four stories every fintech company should tell
In a world where more and more fintech companies are coming up, why does your fintech company exist?
To tell a good story that connects with your potential customers, you must move beyond the what (your fintech solutions) to the why (why you started your company).
Behind every business is a person or a group of persons with a passion. The passion is more often than not a product of certain events, circumstances, and interactions.
Did you start your fintech company because you were concerned about how many people could not access cheap loans and mortgages? Was it the absence of financial inclusion and how it perpetrates the gap between the rich and the poor? Was it the difficulty businesses face in processing payments?
Perhaps you began to nurture the idea when you saw how many of your friends make poor decisions because they could not afford a financial advisor. Maybe yours was the desire to see people create investment portfolios that will help them achieve their financial goals.
Take the time to craft your passion story in a way that will connect with your target audience.
If you do this well, you will make your target audience develop a personal connection with your business. Understanding the passion story behind your brand creates an emotional attachment that goes beyond what you do. Remember, the why trumps the what.
Most people want to be part of a cause; they don’t want to live an ordinary life. When you create an emotional attachment with your passion story, they incorporate your story as theirs.
They also see you as an authentic brand-beyond the numbers, graphs, and charts. As you know, authenticity is a big thing in today’s business world.
Blend, a fintech company providing lending solutions, has a three-minute video on their “About us” page that tells the story of their founder-the experiences that made him passionate about lending and led him to creating Blend.
Once you have created your passion story, distribute it everywhere. Let it be on the ‘About us’ section of your website and your social media profiles. Use it in your press releases and newsletters. Tell it at networking events. Let everyone in sales, marketing, and PR make that story theirs.
Action point: Create a story around why you started your fintech company (the passion) and distribute it.
Your passion story is the foundation for your business story. While the passion story focuses on the why, the business story also includes the what and the how.
A good business story will answer questions like: why do you do what you do (passion), what are you doing (goals, mission, and vision), and how do you do what you are doing (products/services, processes/systems, core values).
For example, suppose you started your business because of the number of people who can’t access cheap loans and mortgages. In that case, your business story might follow this line: we help as many people as possible to access cheap loans and mortgages (goal) by providing low interest and easily accessible lending options (service).
Your passion story will inform your goals, which will, in turn, inform your mission and vision, your products/services, processes/systems, and core values. A business story helps you put your organization’s goals, mission, and vision in concrete terms that people can connect with.
If you can’t explain what you do to a non-technical audience, there is a problem.
Another critical point is that your goal/mission/vision should not be generic (we help you improve your financial life is dumb). It must flow from your passion story. You can’t copy and refine another company’s goal/mission/vision because their passion might not be your passion.
Your business story need not appeal to everyone. The whole world is not your audience. Make your business story appealing to your target audience rather than a generic audience.
Here is Chime’s mission statement, which summarizes their business story:
“We created Chime because we believe everyone deserves financial peace of mind. We’re building a new kind of online bank account that helps members get ahead by making managing money easy. It’s your money. It’s your life. Chime in.”
You will tell your business story in various contexts, including your 10-second and 30-second elevator pitches and your “About Us” page.
Like your passion story, everyone in marketing, sales, and PR should have a good grasp of your business story.
Action point: Take your passion story and use it to develop your business story by answering the what and the how.
Your product story covers how you came about the particular product/service you are selling. How did you come about the fintech solution you provide for your customers?
A product story will cover the experiences, events, ideas, and circumstances that led to the fintech solutions that birthed your company.
Your product story is similar to your passion story. The difference is that the latter focuses on the passion behind the business. In contrast, the latter narrows the focus to the passion behind the specific fintech solutions the business uses to achieve its goals (which flows from the passion behind the business).
Telling your product’s story is an excellent way to connect emotionally with your customers. Purchase is a social expression as much as an economic transaction. When consumers connect with the story behind a product, they easily become loyal customers, providing you with brand equity.
Let your target audience peep behind the scene to appreciate the story behind your solutions. If you do it well, the story becomes their stories, and they move from customers to brand advocates.
Action point: Create your product story and share it on your website and social media, in newsletters and press releases, and at networking and marketing events.
Even when a potential customer loves your product or service, objections still persist. Will it work? Is it durable? Will it write a check it cannot cash? Will I get value for money?
Those questions persist and how (if) you answer them will affect your conversion rate.
A good way to overcome the objections of potential customers is to tell the stories of current customers.
But customer story does more than overcome objections. A good customer story can be a direct customer acquisition tool – no funnel, no lead nurturing. When your target audience sees the story of someone like them who have had a good experience, they want to deal.
You can tell your customer stories via testimonials on your website, case studies on your blog or as a downloadable lead magnet, videos on your YouTube channel, and snippets on social media.
Good customer stories can be the tipping point to turn doubters, visitors, and leads to customers.
Customer stories can also help your customer retention efforts. By sharing their stories, customers feel valuable –part and parcel of your brand. It increases their sense of belonging and loyalty.
Your customer story should explain how your product/services, processes/systems, core values have led to the achievement of your goal in a particular customer’s experience.
For example, if your goal is to help people get good financial advisory services through an online financial advisor, your customer story will highlight how your online financial advisory product led Mr White to get out of debt and on track to achieving his retirement goals.
Similarly, a customer story can be about your business as a whole (processes/systems, core values) rather than a particular product. A customer story might center on your customer service, trustworthiness, readiness to help, and things of that nature.
Tala, a lending fintech company, has a page on their website dedicated to customer stories-videos and text.
Here is a sample testimonial that shows you how Tala ha turned customers into brand advocates:
“Tala is transforming lives. I’ve shared Tala with everybody in my phone book. Each week I get a message that someone I have referred has repaid their loan and I get a bonus. It’s not about the money, it’s the fact that I helped someone somewhere. I feel it and I know it. That’s the beauty about it.”
Action point: Take a sample of your customers and create stories about their experiences (general and particular) in a written and visual format.
Storytelling as a content strategy
However, storytelling goes beyond these four important stories. Storytelling is not what you do once and for all.
Successful fintech companies must use storytelling as a content strategy – creating content with a storytelling mindset.
Instead of having some static pages that tell your passion, business, product, and customer story, storytelling becomes an integral strategy behind your content creation.
How does this work?
Elements of a good story
To better understand how it works, consider the elements of a good story:
- Characters: Every story has characters. Generally, there are two kinds of characters: the protagonist (the main character pursuing some ends) and the antagonist (s) who opposes him/her.
- Conflict: A conflict arises when anything stands between the main character and his or her goals. A conflict can be internal – within the character himself- or external – another character, nature, society, technology, etc.
- Resolution: A resolution is how things eventually play out. In most cases, a resolution is how the main character overcomes the obstacle (conflict) and achieves his or her goals.
The Hero’s journey
In addition to this basic structure of a good story is a plot structure known as the hero journey.
According to Reedsy Blog:
“The Hero’s Journey is a classic story structure that’s shared by stories worldwide. Coined by academic Joseph Campbell in 1949, it refers to a wide-ranging category of tales in which a character ventures out to get what they need, faces conflict, and ultimately triumphs over adversity.”
The Hero’s journey is the plot of Star Wars and The Lion King.
There are also three essential elements to the Hero’s Journey:
- The departure act: The protagonist/hero leaves the ordinary world
- The initiation act: The protagonist/hero enters an unknown world and triumphs through trials and challenges
- The return act: The protagonist/hero returns home in triumph.
Brand-led, customer-centered storytelling
Your customer is the protagonist, cum hero. He is pursuing a goal that will change his life and make him happy.
However, there are obstacles on the way; he is facing challenges that prevent him from getting to that zenith. He has tried many things that didn’t work.
He needs information, a product, an inspiration, or a service to reach that goal and the happy life it brings.
Storytelling as a content strategy puts your business in the plot. Your business provides the information, product, inspiration, service that helps the hero overcome the trials and challenges, accomplish his goal, and achieve the happy life.
The customer is the hero, your brand, the guide. The customer is at the center of the story – his challenges, pain, struggles, and goals. But your brand is the one leading the customer to triumph (in other words, providing the resolution).
Using storytelling as a content strategy begins with a good understanding of your customers’ goals, challenges, trials, and pain points.
Next, you need to identify how your brand (through a product/service, process, or core value) solves the challenge, trial, or pain point and leads the customer to triumph.
Furthermore, you need to understand what triumph looks like for that customer – the happily ever after.
Once you have these three components, you can then create a story.
The story can follow this direction:
The life the customer wants (a) – the challenges, trials, and difficulties preventing him from enjoying that life (b) – your product as the solution to those challenges, trials, and difficulties (c) – the customer enjoying the life (d).
Creating content around this plot is a great way to connect deeply with your customers, engage them, and show understanding and empathy for them.
They see themselves in the story, and they can easily visualize how your product or service helps them. Moreover, they are the hero of the story. Who does not want to be the hero?
Storytelling can turn every content you create into a customer generation machine.
Let’s continue with the example of a company whose goal is to help people access cheaper loans and mortgages.
What are the things that constitute challenges, trials, and difficulties for these heroes? No fund to start or expand their small businesses. Stringent conditions preventing them from accessing business and personal loans. Too much interest draining their purses.
Let’s take the second one – stringent conditions preventing access to credit. A fintech company that provide lending solutions can create a story using the plot above.
You need funds to help you pursue an opportunity to expand your business
But stringent conditions from the banks and credit unions are preventing you from accessing the funds you need to expand your business. At this rate, your business might be stuck, preventing you from achieving your life goals.
Here is how ABC (the fintech solution) from XYZ (the fintech company) will help you gain access to the funds you need to expand your business without the stringent conditions banks and credit unions impose
By using ABC from XYZ, you will be on track to expanding your business and taking it to where you have always dreamt.
You can use customer stories to show how other heroes have successfully used ABC from XYZ.
This article’s title can be ‘A simple way to access the funds you need to expand your business…without the hops.’
Stories are powerful. Because they are concrete and powerful, they compel us to act. As we see ourselves in the characters, world, and plot, they change our minds and influence our decisions.
Storytelling can help you gain more customers and improve your business. You can do this by creating your passion, business, product, and customer story.
You can also use storytelling as a content strategy by using the basic elements of a story and the hero’s journey to create customer-centered and brand-led plots. Through those plots, you can create content that will resonate with your customers and build connections that lead to more customers.
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If you need help with your content marketing, feel free to contact me.
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