Tip Sheet: Telling Your Story to Grow Your Audience

Everyone loves a story – and heritage places have stories to tell. Your story is a great way to communicate what is special about your heritage place. You can also use it in all your marketing materials: flyers, website, e-mails, and social media posts. Telling your story in an inspiring and emotional way will increase the number of visitors and paying customers who will come knocking at your door.

The Fundamentals

Getting Their Attention

The average human has an attention span of 8 seconds. You need to grab their attention in these first 8 seconds, then keep them riveted with a compelling story through the end.

Crafting Your Story

All stories have a beginning, middle and end, with a story arc that takes your audience through these elements. Take them on an emotional journey that will help them remember your historic place and to share this story with others. All your staff and your volunteers should know this story, so that they can inspire others to share it. Word-of-Mouth marketing is one of your most effective marketing tools.

This story will become the foundation of future marketing. You will tease out elements of this story to tell on social media and through promotional activities.

Compel, Engage, Inspire

Numbers and facts won’t engage your audience. Bring your heritage place to life with a story about the history of what has happened there, the people who have been part of it and how these roots tie it to your community. Instead of talking about fixing a leaking roof, find those elements that speak on an emotional level, that will engage your audience and entice them to share your story with others.

Tell your story in visuals. Photographs and videos will capture your audience’s attention and imagination better than a thousand words. Include people in these photographs and use them to support your storyline. Keep videos short, entertaining and focused on your story. A video should be no longer than two minutes, so plan it out before recording. Just like pictures, you can use more than one video. Consider making short videos which focus on particular parts of your story.

Taking it to the next level...

01. Let your visitors tell your story

As we have said, word-of-mouth advertising is your most powerful tool. Once you have your story down, you can start finding creative ways to compel visitors to share your story. Take social media for example. You can start meaningful conversations on social media that will encourage your visitors to share testimonials. You can have staff share their favourite stories on social media and then prompt your followers to do so also. Or jump on the bandwagon and start a special day like ‘throwback Thursday’ that encourages reminiscing.

02. Tailor messages to different audiences.

Once you have a compelling story to tell, you can start thinking about which elements of your story appeal to different audiences. For example, if you currently attract seniors and history buffs, but you would like to attract a more youthful audience, you may want to tease out elements of your story that will attract them.

Before You Start - Ask Yourself:


What are the stories about your heritage place that would engage and inspire your visitors?


What images can accompany your story?


What are the follow-up stories that will keep your visitors engaged in your historic place?