Thump! 

The house shakes with impact. I jump, spilling coffee all over the kitchen floor. Again. 

It’s not a car or large projectile ramming the wall.

It’s Dougie. 

The huge, fluffy grey squirrel has leapt the length of a small car from the crab apple tree to the birdfeeder outside my kitchen window. 

Now, he’s maniacally rifling black oil sunflower seeds into his gob in that twitchy, telltale squirrely style. Dougie ignores my pounding on the window. Repeated experience has taught me this is an exercise in futility. What is the definition of insanity again? About doing the same thing and expecting a different result? That’s me. 

Dougie! I shake my proverbial fist at him, grudgingly admiring his lack of fear. Or shame. I take a moment to think of the poor chickadees, robbed of lunch. 

Damn you, Dougie!

So, Dougie.

My husband nicknamed him. Or her. We don’t know how to tell a male squirrel from his lady counterparts. And I’m not convinced there’s just one squirrel vanquishing the feeder. Dougie has become a catchall name for any and all squirrels stealing from the birds.

As I mopped up my spilled coffee, I thought about how audiences for stories, including brand stories, are kind of like Dougie. 

Most authors have an ideal reader, a real or imagined person to whom they write. Instead of imagining a heterogeneous sea of potential audience members, they laser-focus on one. That doesn’t mean their eventual audience will be a sole person (at least, let’s hope not). But it’s a time-tested technique for maintaining a consistent voice. 

Brand storytellers can do the same.

Pick your ideal reader, your audience, and tell it to them. 

This provides clarity, focus and consistency in tone and voice. 

Stop storytelling to every customer avatar imaginable. Pick one. Pick the one you think will actually result in business for you. 

Don’t try storytelling to everyone. That’s crazy-making. Pick one target audience member.

It helps if you have customer research to back it up. Even just a glance through your customer feedback or social followers tells you who you should be speaking to. 

Find out what they want. Then tempt them with a tasty nut. 

As you define your audience, you need to ask yourself:

  • Who do you most want to reach? 
  • What do they care about? 
  • How can your story help them? 
  • Why will they identify with that story in the first place? 

There’s power in this specificity.

Get really clear about who you most want to attract, and you’re freed from that creeping, chaotic feeling of trying to appeal to the masses. 

If you’re feeling all over the map with your brand storytelling, whether in your blogs, social media content, presentations or email marketing, think: who’s your Dougie? What’s their nut? 

Then serve it up. 

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