We sometimes confuse brand storytelling with storytelling around the campfire. While both are effective communications tactics, brand storytelling is what will help you grow your business and move it forward.
Brand storytelling helps communicate the values of your business, the solutions to challenges you offer and builds trust and connection with your customers.
If storytelling is among the most efficient and cost-effective marketing tools out there, why isn’t it used more? That’s a good question for which I don’t have a good answer. But it does take a little planning, and it does take some work.
In my world, telling the story of a company is the overarching magnet that holds all the marketing, sales and communications strategies together. To be effective, a business’s story should have three main components:
• Effectively communicate what the business does and why it should be important to the customer (the “so what”).
• Put the customer at the center of the story, make them the “hero” so they care.
• Be interesting and dynamic enough to grab attention.
Conduct a strategy session with your partners, stakeholders or team. Include everyone. This is the area you want to have diversity of thought and opinion. Here are steps to begin telling the story of your business today:
1. Make a plan
Plan on spending a couple of hours to really dig into the story of your company. Lots of brainstorming, sticky notes and introspection will get you a vocabulary or list of words that describe your company.
2. Define it
Defining the heart and soul of your company is imperative to this process. Create a vision statement and value proposition — these are the definitions of your brand. As a reminder, your brand is your promise to your customers, not the physical logo.
Ask lots of questions: How are we unique? What makes us a great business? Why should our customers care? What do our competitors do better?
3. Craft the story
Now it’s time to turn all these adjectives and descriptors into a story. I like doing it on a whiteboard; I draw big parallel lines and start writing along the lines: Founded in and by; answer the why. What is the problem being solved? Is it unique? Innovative?
Have fun with this because it is the background of your story. This isn’t an elevator pitch or a sound bite. It is the story of your business. It should be no longer than a couple of brief paragraphs.
Write. Edit. Edit. Edit. Make sure every word has a purpose.
4. Create a marketing review
Now that your story is polished and practiced, it’s time to push it out there. You will have different versions — usually three: a first-person one that a founder or executive delivers, one that a staff member can deliver, and a written version that you can use in your marketing materials. This last one is in your “company” voice, so it is usually written in third person unless you want to get creative and spend time giving your company a real voice.
Where does this all fit into your marketing?
5. Match the creative
Ensure that you have the right graphics and photos to move forward. Does your pitch deck need updating? New founder photos? Do you need to get digital versions of those old photos hanging on the walls or maybe create an infographic to support the story? Make it vibrant and interesting!
6. We’re just getting started
Now, the hard part. Just get out and tell the story. If you are a local business, find community groups that align with your values and marketing targets. Find new conferences or community events to speak directly with potential customers who might be interested in your company’s product or service.
Share your expertise and experiences to not only help others, but to introduce your business to them.
Your story will amplify your message and drive business forward.
Learn about brand storytelling and business growth at NCET’z Biz Café on Sept. 20.
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology.
Ira M. Gostin, MBA, APR is the managing partner and chief strategist at G8 Strategies (www.g8strategies.com), with offices in Reno and New York City, providing investor relations, public relations and marketing to global industrial companies.