spa marketing

The Art of Storytelling

When it comes to Spa Marketing, storytelling matters. It always has. What has changed, and changed rapidly, is our ability to tell our own stories. When it comes to Digital Spa Marketing in particular, storytelling is table stakes. It’s the minimum cost of entry.

As traditional platforms such as TV, Radio, Magazine, and Newspapers have given way to a multitude of social networks and digital platforms, the power has shifted. We no longer need the middleman. We can tell our stories directly to the people who want to hear them.

None of this is news. It’s been this way for awhile now and we all know it. So, why aren’t more of us doing it? Why is it that so many of us fail when it comes to Digital Spa Marketing? The simple answer is businesses just don’t know what their story is.

When I speak with owners and managers of spas, they put their Digital Marketing failures down to social media incompetence. “We just don’t know how to do Facebook very well.” or “There’s nobody in our company dedicated to social media.” But the reality is it’s not really a lack of technical knowledge or resources. It’s a lack of ideas. Because when I offer to do all that for them for FREE, if only they can tell me what story they want to tell…I get nothing. Crickets! Lots of ummm’s and ahhhh’s and kinda’s and sorta’s.

So, what I’ve developed is 5 Simple Storylines for Every Spa Business. Within each of these storylines, you can find any number of unique stories. You shouldn’t even need to look very hard. Just watch and listen. You’ll find them.

It might help if you think of your spa business as a TV studio. Imagine you need to come up with five new shows. Five new Reality TV concepts. Five new storylines.

Story 1 – The People

People is always a great place to start. So, start by looking at some of the people on your team. Every one of them is unique. They all have their own stories. Each has had their own trials and tribulations. In fact, they’re still having some. All of that is real. All of it is interesting – to others.

Identify 3 people in your team who will be comfortable sharing some of their story. The more they’re willing to share the better. Even the stuff that they (and you) might think is boring could be of interest to those who want to better understand your business. Hear Tom tell us why he decided to get into Spa after 7 years as a Registered Nurse. See Julie helping the kids with Biology homework and referencing her knowledge of anatomy and physiology. There are a million stories to be told within each of their lives.

If they know your people, they’ll feel like they know your business. Remember, people buy from people – not businesses.

Story 2 – The Location

Whether your spa is located in a remote tropical wilderness, deeply embedded in nature or the basement of a city hotel building, it has a story to tell.

If yours is more of a nature-based location, think about those National Geographic documentaries we’ve seen on TV for years. These are great examples of storytelling. I can almost hear David Attenborough’s dulcet tones now. Just imagine if he was telling the story of your location. The sounds, the smells, the hustle and bustle of Mother Nature’s finest, going about their business.

Or maybe the story of your location would best be told like a History Channel documentary? Revealing the back story of the building’s construction at a time of economic hardship. The famous, infamous and average people who walked the hallways once upon a time. How the eccentric architect and eclectic interior designer came together to create this unique spa space. Even the journey of the building materials is a part of this story. Whether they came from far off lands or the brickworks down the road, there is always a story worth telling.

Story 3 – The Business

The inner workings of your business can provide an unlimited amount of content for another storyline. What might seem like mundane daily happenings to you, can be of great interest to others. Maybe one of your followers is thinking of opening a spa but unsure of what a typical day will look like. You can show them. Perhaps someone else also has a spa business and just wants to know they’re not alone in their challenges. Again, your story can give them that peace of mind. Everything from opening the doors, turning the lights on and booting up your POS  at the start of the day to flicking the lights off at the end of the day. All of this and everything in between is part of the story.

If you really want to build a deep connection with your fans and followers, share the story of building your business. Why did you walk away from your successful career to risk it all with your own spa? Who did you call on for advice? What was your inspiration? Why did you choose this location? How did you manage to get the money needed to start your business? How did you find your first employee? What about your first customer?

If your stories are real and they are told honestly, they will resonate. They will find an audience. And that audience will be hooked. They will become part of your business, even if you don’t really know it.

Story 4 – The Offering

Your treatments, products, and services can, of course, be a good source for stories too. Indeed, for many spa businesses, this is often where their storytelling starts and ends. They tell the story of their skincare products and how wonderful their treatments make people feel. Great. But every spa tells those stories. And when it comes to the skincare story, the one we tell is often just what the product house has given us. So once again, lots of people have that same story.

Where you can stand out and make it yours, is with the story behind the story. Why did you select that product range? What others did you consider? Knowing what you know now, would you make the same choice again? How could the implementation have been done better? What did you do in terms of promotions for the product launch? Were they successful?

The same process applies to your treatment menu. Take us into the fold. Share with us how the current treatment menu came into being. All the other spas may have an Aromatherapy Massage, but none of them have your story about how you came to have this treatment on your menu. How you trained it. How you sell it. That story is uniquely yours.

Story 5 – The Future

Once you’ve shared with me the stories of your People, your Location, your Business and your Offering, you’ve got me. I’m in. I’ve laughed and cried with you all as you took me on the journey with you. So, where do we go next? It just makes sense that after following all the stories that led you to this moment, I will now want to go with you on your journey into the future. Right?

This is where you can create a really deep bond with your fans and followers. What has happened up till now was your story. What happens next, can be our story. I can actually be a part of this bit. How? Just bring me into the discussion on the future. Tell me what you plan to do and ask my opinion. If I give it, let’s engage. It doesn’t matter what you end up doing, only that I feel like I am part of the discussion. Needless to say, being able to look back later on a relive those thoughts and hopes and dreams, will be a powerful story too.

Where to from here?

Now that you have identified your stories, you should create your Story Boards. Think of it like a simple cartoon strip or a comic book. Imagine the scene. Where is it? Who is there? What is said? Where do they all end up? It doesn’t have to be precise. It shouldn’t be scripted. This is real. It’s Reality TV – just a bit more real.

And what’s the best format to tell these stories in? It all depends. The short answer is any and all formats that can effectively communicate the message. That’s the great thing about Digital Marketing. You have so many different tools and platforms to use.

Video is always an obvious format, but it doesn’t need to be the only one. A simple picture on Instagram with a few choice hashtags can tell a great story. A quick tweet with a link to a research report can also work just as well. Maybe even a podcast interview with one of your team telling their own story first hand. Any and all can work.

People have always told stories. We always will. It’s the way we communicate. Stories create connections. We won’t be sold to anymore. We’re too smart. A fancy marketing campaign that pushes products will be seen for what it is. But a smart Digital Spa Marketing campaign in which you are not selling me but sharing your stories is a whole other thing.

Don’t try to sell me. Make me want to buy. Let me be part of your story.

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