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Jewelry Storytelling: Get Your Audience to STOP and Pay Attention

Episode #279 – “Jewelry Storytelling: Get Your Audience to STOP and Pay Attention”

Welcome to Episode #279. Today, I’m revisiting the topic of brand storytelling for what must be the thousandth time, simply because I can’t seem to emphasize its importance enough.

Recently, I stumbled upon a small business grant sponsored by a global bank, which understandably attracts a vast number of applicants. A unique aspect of this application process is the requirement to submit a 500-word essay detailing your business’s journey and how it has navigated the current economic landscape. However, there’s a catch: your story must be shared publicly, as all submissions are compiled on a single webpage for open viewing.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself diving into the narratives of fellow entrepreneurs. With every page refresh, a flood of new entries appeared, signaling thousands of applications from business owners nationwide, including those from the jewelry sector. Intriguingly, the use of AI for crafting or refining these stories was prohibited, placing the onus on the applicant’s innate storytelling abilities to compellingly answer the prompt within the tight word limit.

As I read some of the submissions, I couldn’t help but marvel at the monumental task awaiting the judges: selecting finalists from such a rich tapestry of stories. It’s clear that each business owner would greatly benefit from the grant.

This leads to the pressing question: In a sea of narratives, how does one capture attention? Whether it’s in a grant application or communicating with customers, standing out is crucial. Stay tuned for my insights on how to make people STOP AND PAY ATTENTION to your story!

Check out the transcript below.

Laryssa Wirstiuk
Ready to break free from algorithms, vanity PR, and money-sucking ads? My name’s Laryssa Wirstiuk, and I’ve learned in 7 years of jewelry marketing that content is the crown jewel. My agency Joy Joya takes a holistic approach, leading with laser-focused storytelling, impactful content creation, and strategic content distribution. This method has worked for the solopreneur as well as the multi-million-dollar company, and now I’m sharing these systems and tactics with you. Here’s to standing out in the Sea of Sparkle.

Welcome to Episode #279. Today, I’m revisiting the topic of brand storytelling for what must be the thousandth time, simply because I can’t seem to emphasize its importance enough. Recently, I stumbled upon a small business grant sponsored by a global bank, which understandably attracts a vast number of applicants. A unique aspect of this application process is the requirement to submit a 500-word essay detailing your business’s journey and how it has navigated the current economic landscape. However, there’s a catch: your story must be shared publicly, as all submissions are compiled on a single webpage for open viewing. Curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself diving into the narratives of fellow entrepreneurs. With every page refresh, a flood of new entries appeared, signaling thousands of applications from business owners nationwide, including those from the jewelry sector. Intriguingly, the use of AI for crafting or refining these stories was prohibited, placing the onus on the applicant’s innate storytelling abilities to compellingly answer the prompt within the tight word limit. As I read some of the submissions, I couldn’t help but marvel at the monumental task awaiting the judges: selecting finalists from such a rich tapestry of stories. It’s clear that each business owner would greatly benefit from the grant. This leads to the pressing question: In a sea of narratives, how does one capture attention? Whether it’s in a grant application or communicating with customers, standing out is crucial. Stay tuned for my insights on how to make people STOP AND PAY ATTENTION to your story!

But before we get to the solid gold, I’d like to take a moment to remind you that this podcast has both audio and video – so you can either listen on your favorite podcast platform or watch on YouTube by searching “Joy Joya”. You can support the podcast for free by taking the time not only to subscribe but also to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

Okay, let’s get into today’s episode, my Sparklers! This one’s all about the crucial task of capturing and retaining people’s attention with your narrative and offerings. Achieving this is more challenging than it appears. As business owners, we naturally find our businesses and stories compelling. We’re intimately familiar with what sets us and our products apart, often assuming that others will immediately see this value without much effort on our part. Consider how you engage with your favorite movies or TV shows compared to those you don’t enjoy as much. In today’s fast-paced world, dwindling attention spans are a reality. If something doesn’t immediately capture interest, people quickly move on, given the plethora of alternatives available at their fingertips. Reflect on what makes certain content irresistible to you. And can you think of any takeaways that would help you tell your own story more effectively? Gloria Mark, a professor emerita of informatics at UC Irvine, has researched attention spans over the past two decades, starting at the onset of the digital era. Twenty years ago, the average focus on a single screen lasted 2.5 minutes. Today, that span has reduced to merely 47 seconds, with recovery from distractions taking up to half an hour. For jewelry brands with a digital focus, this emphasizes the importance of engaging your audience from the start. Immediate engagement is key, or you risk losing interest. With a master’s degree in creative writing and experience teaching the subject, I understand storytelling and how to begin a story compellingly. It’s vital to remember that a story isn’t a linear recount of reality. Reality tends to unfold in a mundane, predictable sequence, which can be dull if narrated straightforwardly. However, if your day includes an exciting event, such as winning a million dollars from a lottery ticket, you wouldn’t start the story with the mundane details of your day. Instead, you’d lead with the most thrilling part, “You’ll never guess what happened to me!” This approach grabs attention, drawing listeners in before filling in the details for context. So many novice storytellers when talking about their brand start with the linear beginning or think of their story more like a historical account. No, no, no. If your brand story starts with, “I launched my business in 2020 right after I went to a pearl farm and learned about pearls.” You’ve already lost me, why should I care? Maybe your mom or best friend would care, but a stranger would not care. Another way to start? “They say every pearl has a story, but I never truly understood that until I was there, at the heart of creation, where pearls are born from patience and perseverance. It was a whisper that caught me, a soft murmur of the sea locked within each pearl, telling tales of storms weathered and calm seas cherished. That whisper turned into a roar in my heart, driving me to share these stories, not just as ornaments but as symbols of the journey every soul undertakes.” Now that example is a little more over-the-top and flowery, but it makes the idea so much more compelling and also connects to the reason why other people might care. Unless you’re applying for a job, no one wants to read your resume in narrative form. You have to find an angle that will interest someone right away, and your degree or past jobs aren’t going to do that. The thing is that you’ll have to rewrite your story numerous times, and your first line in your rough draft is 100% not going to be the first line you end up with; I find that it’s the thing that changes the most as you dig into your story more deeply. Of course, you need to start somewhere, so don’t agonize too much about that. But know that it’s going to change in future drafts. So first, what should this story actually look like, and where should it live? You definitely need one universal brand narrative, the story of your brand. This can start as an internal document that will be repurposed again and again in various ways. It should be as long as it takes for you to tell your story, but also not so long that it’s boring and says too much. It should just tell the parts of the story that are the most relevant and interesting to your target audience. Once you have this documented, then you can use it in a number of ways. One version can be the “About Us” page copy on your website. Another version can be used when you apply to grants and other contests, or you are working with a supplier or other partner. Small parts of it can be distilled out for blog posts, email marketing copy, or social media marketing copy. So what are some ways you can grip someone right away? I have some specific tactics for you: Put the audience right in the action. Think of movies or TV shows that literally insert you right in the middle of the action first before explaining too much; it intrigues you and raises your adrenaline. So what would be the equivalent of that for your jewelry business? Don’t start at the beginning of time. Okay, so you may need to write this way in your rough draft, drafting from the beginning of a timeline. But if your final draft starts at the linear beginning, then you may want to rethink what’s most important. Use specific adjectives and precise nouns/verbs to paint a picture. Most jewelry business owners are way too generic in their storytelling, so it’s hard for someone to imagine what’s so special and unique about the business. Be as specific and detailed as possible; you can always cut back on unnecessary details later, but try to add them up front. Ask a rhetorical question related to your story. This could get your audience to reflect on their own experiences. Surprise your audience with a fact or bit of information they wouldn’t expect. One of the best ways to get someone’s attention is to challenge their assumptions and expectations, and make them look twice. Emphasize the conflict. The best stories are all about overcoming adversity. If you don’t include some kind of conflict or hurdle that you had to overcome in your story, then there’s no drama, nothing to keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Think about Apple, a brand that pretty much everyone knows. The core of their storytelling revolves around two words: “Think Different.” The conflict is that they have worked hard to stand out in a world that’s all about the status quo. That’s hard to imagine these days, when so many people have iPhones and other Apple devices, but they were visionary back in the day. So I want to know, what are you going to be doing next to add some “oomph” to your brand story? Which tactics resonate with you? What kind of help do you need? Let me know.

Okay, let’s get into the GOLD MINE. Welcome to another edition of THE GOLD MINE – a segment where I get personal and share insights on entrepreneurship, mindset, success, growth, and all things business. THE GOLD MINE allows me to share topics and insights close to my heart.

In this week’s GOLD MINE, I want to share some of my personal experiences working on Joy Joya’s brand story, and hopefully my insights will resonate with you. The one thing that has helped me develop the Joy Joya brand story the most is time.

The story I would’ve written about my business 8 years ago when I started is so much different than the one I would write today, and not just because there’s more to add in there due to the passing years. It’s more because I have the insight now to know what’s important, what matters to me, and what matters to my target audience. And that’s not to say that someone who is starting a business can’t write a brand story at all. It just means that you’ll need to consciously check in with it, probably around every 6 months to see if there are ways you can enrich it and add more depth. The brand story you have on day 1 is definitely not going to be the same brand story you can in year 10.

Over time, you may change your products, new consumer behaviors/preferences may emerge, you may change the way you choose to interact with your audience, so many things you can change. I was recently even looking back on a very early version of my website, which is kind of a funny exercise to do if you want to remind yourself how far you’ve come. On my “About” page, I wrote, “Laryssa Wirstiuk, a.k.a. ‘Joy Joya,’ is a fine jewelry marketing consultant and jewelry branding expert. She’s based in Los Angeles, CA but works anywhere with WiFi. With extensive knowledge and experience in digital marketing, creative writing, and jewelry sales, she’s an expert at connecting jewelry retailers with their target audiences.” These days my brand story is simultaneously bigger and smaller. My story isn’t just about me; Joy Joya is me and my team. I used to be much more of a generalist with my “extensive knowledge”, but now I’m hyper-focused on holistic marketing strategies that are led by story-driven content. I also don’t just work with jewelry retailers; actually I prefer to work with more independent brands that sell primarily online.

And my story is more than just the narrative itself but about what I’m actually sharing – and how consistently I’m sharing it. So for example, if you’ve read my book, and you listen to or watch this podcast, you probably know a lot about how I approach marketing and how I engage with my clients. My story is also about how I talk about the work that I do.

My story also changed and evolved when I started putting myself out there now, starting this podcast in 2018 and eventually getting myself on YouTube which made me very uncomfortable at first. But it shaped me into a person who can say I’m a contributor to the jewelry industry as a whole. And maybe that’s a direction you want to take in your storytelling as well; thinking about your role in the business and how much you want to be the “face” of your business. So my point is that you can’t just set and forget your story. You have to check in with it often and let it be its own living, breathing thing. Your story is also in your actions, in the things you say, in how consistent you are in your marketing, and how your customers feel when they engage with you – not just when they view your products but also when they go through the purchase experience. I also think your story is not just about how you engage with your customers but also with other people who work with you, including contractors, your employees, your vendors, other collaborators, etc. Because every way that you put yourself out there in the world shapes the story of you and your business.

What do you think? When was the last time you reconsidered your story? Drop me a message via Instagram DM, leave a review on the podcast, or comment on our YouTube channel. Let’s engage in a discussion about it! News Article(s) – Optional Did you have any questions about today’s episode? You can always email me Laryssa at laryssa@joyjoya.com. If you loved this podcast, please share it with a friend who’d appreciate it. And don’t forget to subscribe as well as leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you’re completely new to digital marketing, then you’ll want to purchase and read a copy of my book JEWELRY MARKETING JOY. Visit joyjoya.com/book for more information.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai