I love autumn in New England, so I’m a happy camper up here right now.  And yes, autumn presages a long winter, but I have found ways to enjoy that too.

One of the benefits of New England’s long winters is that you can wear boots six months of the year.  I’ve gained an affinity for black boots and wear them almost every day once the cold sets in.

In a decidedly un-Imelda Marcos-move though, I’ve not amassed a huge collection.

Instead I have a few favorite pairs that I keep in good order with a yearly visit or two to my buddy Oleg, the cobbler in Natick Center.

Oleg is a friendly gentleman with an old world Eastern European demeanor and a craftsman’s work ethic.  He never rushes you, is happy to chat and offers you Russian candies.

In addition to polishing each pair of my boots, Oleg has over time put on new soles, new heels and made other minor repairs.

I went to collect my freshly polished and refurbished black boots from Oleg in early September.  After presenting his work on each pair, Oleg showed me a pair of ice skates and told me a story.

The coach of the Babson College skating team had brought a pair of expensive ice skates to Oleg.  He explained that to keep skates on, skaters have to tie the laces tightly.  The tight laces hurt skaters’ feet and the hooks often break from the pressure. 

Could Oleg do something to reduce the pressure on skaters’ feet and on the hooks so that they would not break so often?

diagram of a skate for brand storytelling and content marketing example

Image source: https://kprewitt.weebly.com

Oleg had engineered a solution by sewing additional panels of leather on the inside of the boot so that they bridged more of the gap between the hooks and the tongue of the boot.  The panels functioned like permanent inserts and extended the boot further around the skater’s ankle, distributing the lace pressure across more surface area of leather.

If you hadn’t seen the skates before, you would not know that the panels were later additions.  They looked that good.  His system relieved the pressure to the skaters’ feet, provided more ankle support and extended the life of the hooks.

The Babson Coach was thrilled.  He referred his wife, who brought her skates to Oleg.  She too was thrilled with his work.  She has since referred a steady stream of skaters to Oleg.

Oleg’s story was short and enjoyable.  It was also brilliant marketing.

In friendly conversation, Oleg:

  • Demonstrated his ingenuity;
  • Educated me on a new and specialized service he was offering;
  • Shared that his new service got rave reviews and was generating repeat referrals; and
  • Conveyed a story that encapsulated all of the above and was easy for me to remember and retell.

Did I feel like I was being sold?  No.  It was casual and friendly conversation.

Do I know more about Oleg’s capabilities?  Yes.  And now if I come upon someone having that problem with their skates, I know where to refer them.

This is the genius of content marketing.  Content marketing educates your customers about your brand by delivering helpful and interesting information in an entertaining fashion.

Brand storytelling is an integral part of content marketing.  Done well, your customers and prospects will not only remember your brand, they will retell and spread your story for you.

It’s like an engaging cocktail party conversation.

And like an engaging cocktail party conversation, it can be inexpensive.  Or free.  All Oleg invested was a few minutes of his time.

Besides cocktail conversations, content marketing often takes the form of:

  • Blog articles
  • Newsletters
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Speaking engagements

Do you have a good story about how your brand helped a customer ready for your next cocktail conversation?   I’d love to hear it!

While I await your story, I’ll be here eyeing a new pair of boots online to expand my collection.

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