by Kent Whipple
At this year’s convocation of the Yelp Coast-to-Coast business conference, Seattle storyteller Kent Whipple who is the Marketing & Development Director of Unexpected Productions, an improvisational troupe based at the Pike Place Market Theater, will present Dynamic Storytelling: A Strategic Tool to Help Your [Yelp] Page. For Whipple, (who last night won the best story award at the Seattle Moth’s StorySlam), storytelling is second nature. See our companion piece in People. — Ed.
“If you look around, stories are being told everywhere, ” advises Kent, “in commercials, ads, bus signs, etc. Stories don’t need to be complex, they just have to trigger an emotion.”
How does storytelling relate to Yelp , the local business and reviews directory?
“Every business has a Yelp page,” says, Whipple. “Once they claim it, they can use it for FREE to tell their story and reach out to their customers. The Yelp business page has several sections where a business owner can tell a simple story about what they do and why they do it.”
Here are a few simple story techniques from Kent that demonstrate the where, how and why:
• Make it Authentic
Nate Stanton, a storyboard artist at Pixar put it this way: “Use what you know. Draw from it. It doesn’t always mean plot or fact. It means capturing a truth from your experiencing it, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core.”
• Keep It Brief
Stories don’t have to be long and wordy. I love two-sentence stories. One of my personal favorites is a horror story. “I heard the knocking on the other side of the glass. I realized it was coming from the other side of the mirror.” Brief stories can be relatable and culturally relevant. Most Americans can relate to “The British are coming, the British are coming.”
• Mind these Tips
· Be relevant. Keep in mind what’s interesting to an audience, not just to you
· Make people root for you and your business
· Stories are about emotion and empathy
· Stories are universal
· Don’t be boring
· Share the why of what you do not just the how you do it
· Be detailed but brief
· Don’t be general, focus on your audience. IF you are a vegetarian restaurant you don’t need to reach the steak-eaters
· Make the mundane epic
· Talk about who you are, not just what you do
· Don’t brag-relate to your customer
· Engage the senses
· Provide structure to your story. Once upon a time…
· Show your passion
· Know when to edit, and edit
How can you produce a Yelp page that tells your business story?
Images Section: Use images that tell stories, families, couples people laughing, not just an interior or exterior of your business
Picture descriptions: Create descriptions that evoke a response
From the business section: Talk about the why do you do what you do. Inspire emotion
History Section: Share your journey and how you got here
Meet the Manager Section: Make people root for you
Reviews: Your customers may not always remember the review, but they will certainly remember how you responded to it.
Kent On Seattle, Yelp, and Social Media:
After joining Unexpected Productions, and doing some research on the “marketplace” for Seattle ‘s theater in the Pike Place Market Kent, I surprised to discover that Yelps demographics were similar to UP’s, with their 41.4% of users in the 18-34 age group and and 37.8% between 35-54.
I had no knowledge on how to use Yelp so I sent a direct message to the handle with my email requesting that they contact me. The next day I received a note from the Katy Hewitson, who was the Yelp Community Director for Seattle. We met and she walked me through my Yelp page. I was incredibly grateful but still tenuous.
Once I got online and started doing research. I found that everything she said was true. As I started responding to our reviews (both good and bad), I started seeing an uptick in sales. We track how people found us in our ticket system. There has been a substantial increase coming from Yelp. I added all of our shows to the free calendar and saw another uptick. I was hooked.
At that point, I held an event for the YelpElite users…another uptick! Since then I have been a fan and made Yelp a big part of our marketing efforts. We don’t advertise on Yelp, but we do have an “Enhanced Profile” It cost us $75 per month and it paid for itself very quickly.
Interacting on the internet is part of everything we do. We are an improv company. Our art is based on interaction, So it just makes sense to make it part of our business plan. We have accounts on Yelp, TripAdvisor, FourSquare, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat. We have also started to use our YouTube channel and plan on expand our YouTube efforts in 2017.
Here are our current ratings:
Yelp: 4.5 stars
Facebook: 4.6 stars
TripAdvisor: 4.6 stars 2016 Award of excellence
Google: 4.3 stars
Foursquare: 8 out of 10
Since we started making online reputation management a part our marketing efforts, we have experienced tremendous growth.
Facebook: In 2012 we had 749 likes, we now have 6502 for 768% growth.
Twitter: In 2012 we had 589 followers, we now have 2947 equaling 400% growth.
Yelp: in 2012 we had 30 reviews, and now have 249, for 739% growth. [24×7]