Guitars are known by the stories of those who loved them and the music they created. When Ian opened his guitar shop, he didn’t so much sell guitars as tell their stories.
Ian Rhodes not only found his way back to his passion for playing guitar, he started blogging about it – way back when blogging meant you had to know how to code.
People “may not have come in with the idea they wanted to buy a guitar” but talking about guitars and swapping stories were so engaging Ian said people often left with a guitar anyway. With his blog and his easy way of swapping tales with customers, Ian was soon treated like a guitar expert. His shop was successful and fun. After ten years he was ready to move on.
A data geek at heart, he started playing around technology and realized that what people want from a website – is the same kind of expertise he offered in his guitar shop.
“People love an expert who can tell a story.”
Content marketing is all about establishing yourself as an authority.
Ian is clear that real life experience is the key to building authority and evolving the story of WHO You Are and WHY You Are Here. The story has to be valid and credible. Paid advertising can’t overcome a weak story OR a lack of experience. That is the baseline. Ian has that and more.
He uses technology and measures to “listen” to his customers and help others do the same. He analyzes data like “bounce rates” (who leaves your site without looking at another page), runs A/B testing to compare and contrast different ways of telling a story, and tracks other analytics to capture and refine the “experiences” of users and prospects as they interact with a website and social media. Just as he responded to conversations and reactions to his stories in person in his guitar store, he digs into the data, experiments with variables to increase responses, and responds in person.
I asked Ian “What works?”
“Employee biographies, quirky information, any kind of detail that communicates your story.”
Of course, quirky doesn’t qualify until he tests it in terms of strategic intention using measurable and meaningful tests.
Ian’s passion for stories and curiosity about response is a perfect combination of the art and science of storytelling.
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