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Retail Storytelling, Part I: What Every Bricks & Mortar Retailer Should Consider for their First Web Video

Commoncraft_store After thousands of conversations with traditional retailers about online media, I'm often asked why companies should blog.

My answer is that they should do it just to make sure their story gets told.

We've entered this Golden Age of storytelling -- thanks to blogs, podcasts and web video, everyone is a producer, and everyone is a critic. People are going online to find stories that help them make up their mind.

But here's an example that brings it a little closer to home. Every day, I walk my dog past a hot dog vendor. He's had good business, but he asked me how hard I thought it was to get people to walk just thirty feet.

As it turns out, pretty darn hard. There's a reason why grocery stores pack their aisles with messages and easy-to-reach displays.

So, he's changed his thinking recently. While he gets good loving from Yelp, he's learned that he gets lots of play by storytelling, and then spreading the story to local news outlets. (And what a headline: "Hot Dog! Biker Jim's Excellent Adventure!") His web site has been a great brochure, but he's started to look at web video.

Retail storytelling is the natural evolution of virtual tours. The more your customers know about your store and where things are, the easier their shopping experience is. The great thing about web video is that it puts the consumer in charge: it tells the whole story to an interested customer, and lets an uninterested customer cut the story short.

Here are some things for retailers to consider when putting together their first web video:

  • What's the name of your store? You can't assume that just because someone has clicked on the video, they'll remember the name of your store. Reinforcing your store name makes it easier for your customers to Google you at a later time or recommend you to someone else.
  • How long have you been in business? The longer you've been in business, the more likely you'll be there when the customer shows up. At least that's the assumption your customer makes. The biggest frustration of consumers today is when they Google a retailer online, only to drive to the location and find out that it's not there. History communicates trust and credibility. If they trust you they're more likely to visit you and hence, buy from you.
  • How many locations do you have? Despite what people say about their preferences for mom and pop stores, the more locations you have the more trusted you are. If their first experience with you is in New York City they're more likely to tell their friends when you open a location in their neighborhood.
  • What's your specialty? Understanding your theme or "elevator pitch" makes your store more memorable the next time your customer goes shopping. You may not have what all of your customers need all the time, but they need to remember your theme when they're looking for gifts for friends.
  • What do you sell? Today's consumer is all about saving time. When you offer a menu of your products you save them time. You also allow them to consider your store for future needs. Describe your merchandise using broad keywords and major brand names. Take the time to use tools like Facebook Lexicon to determine what keywords are most in use (here we compare Prada vs Gucci, or Celtics vs Lakers), and use the most popular keywords.
  • What's new? New sells! Send an email blast or text message pulse to give your best clientele a chance to see and buy your new merchandise before everyone else does. Create a web video that shows off the new stuff that just arrived.

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