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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 17 July 2018

How to connect with customers as a business

Telling the tale of how and why you launched your business and the path you took to get there is crucial to winning interest

Children love stories and it's no different when you launch a business; the tale you tell of its creation is a good way to spark interest from potential customers and backers. Alex Hofford/EPA
Children love stories and it's no different when you launch a business; the tale you tell of its creation is a good way to spark interest from potential customers and backers. Alex Hofford/EPA

When my sister and I launched our media company last year, we did it because we personally struggled to find publications that published content which was relevant to us and other young people in the Arabian Gulf.

Shortly after launching our company, we joined Sheraa entrepreneurship centre in Sharjah, where we worked with various mentors on fine-tuning our business strategy and marketing efforts. One of the most important lessons we learnt was how to get people behind a business, especially one like ours. How do you make them read your content and come back for more?

You might say "well I do have a great website, and awesome photos on my Instagram page/". But is that enough? Not really. It all boils down to sharing your “story” with your customers.

As children we loved stories because they resonated with our human nature. Humans love stories, especially when the storytellers are talking about common struggles. Stories speak to people.

After realising the power of our story, especially in our field, we decided to tell it in the best way that our target audience would connect to it: through video. We created a 50-second video that told our story, and why we’re doing what we’re doing. What happened next? The number of our readers increased dramatically, and many people connected with us, saying that they love what we’re doing and would like to join our team or contribute to our efforts. You can imagine how thrilled we were.

So how can you also tell your story and have more of a connection with your customers? Here are few steps to follow:

Why is the problem your business is solving important?

If you are launching a publication, then why are you doing it? What problem is your publication addressing? For instance, is there a lack of literary magazines that publish regional work? Are there no business or community magazines in your town?

This part is the essence of your story, and it should be what you start your story with. Take it a couple of layers down by stating why your problem is important, and what is the size of the market that your solution would be helping?

Remember that you won’t only be telling your story to customers but also to potential investors, so having numbers helps - and this is what my sister and I did. We didn’t just state the problem, we showed it in numbers and figures. You could do this by looking at statistics published by the Ministry of Economy on the number of companies that are solving this problem, for instance. A lot of the supporting numbers you would need are accessible online.

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Why is your product/service the right solution?

In this part of your story, you would highlight how your product/service will help in addressing this problem. Here you can also show the number of people you will be targeting and who can be potential customers.

Include your business features and, most importantly, what makes it different, and how that difference is key to your success and how the industry can benefit from it.

Why you?

This is an important part that you don’t want to miss. People relate more when they know who the founders of a business are. Why are you the right people, for instance, to manage this business? This is your opportunity to establish your team’s credibility and to show your potential customers, investors and partners that you are the right people for this business and they can rely on you.

If you are one of the few people with expertise in your field, because your innovation is patented or because you are the first one doing such and such, then by all means highlight that. Even if you don’t have an expertise, your personal approach and story behind creating your business would work, too. Just remember to tell your story in a way that other people can relate to.

Perhaps you were once like your target audience who struggled because there was a lack of companies that addressed a problem many suffered from, and you wanted to end that by introducing your product.

The bottom line is whatever the reasons may be for you to establish your business, tell the story of how you came across the problem, and how your solution can change the future of many people.

There are a lot of people with amazing businesses out there, but it’s the story behind the business that we feel most connected to.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi