Try this. Search the term "story marketing" on Google.
You will be met with many articles and blog pieces that discuss the power of story for a company and why people relate to stories better than traditional advertising. What you will not find much on is how to practically implement story into your business. Today, we seek to supplement that by providing five steps to start implementing story into your company.
Step 1: Understand what story marketing means to your company
Not all companies are created equal. And therefore the strategies for implementing story within a company are also different. Start with the common definition of story marketing: the method of using story to deliver the message of what your company does for its clients. This is a simple, but effective way of understanding what story marketing is.
Now look at how that applies to your company. Do you advertise very much? Coca-Cola’s strategy for implementing story into its brand strategy is going to have much more reach than your company if your ad spend is only a drop in the bucket compared to them.
This is an important point. Much of the material online is suggestive of how to publicly display your story to the world. But is that realistic for a company that has not traditionally used much advertising? Should their first step be to simply put out a video and broadcast it to the world? Not necessarily. Even if the strategy pans out, a company is left with one piece of content displaying an elaborate picture that has no framework to it.
We suggest that you take the definition of story and apply it realistically to your company. Traditional content creation is not the only delivery method for story.
Step 2: Develop your narrative
Stories are impactful and engaging. But it's not good if your entire brand hinges on a single story. This runs the risk of pigeonholing the brand in a way that restricts adaptation and growth into future markets. Narrative is the overarching theme that you pull stories from. It leaves concepts like the hero open to interpretation for different contexts.
Let's use us, Storify, as an example. We focus on providing marketing services around story. Our narrative for this would be that we believe that through utilizing powerful story techniques that we have developed, our clients (heroes) are able to bypass advertisement fatigue in the marketplace and build up a loyal and highly-engaged client base. This is not a story necessarily. It lacks defined heroes, problems, and settings. But in doing that it allows us to draw multiple stories that can get our foot in the door of a variety of industries such as engineering, software, retail, agriculture, and others without changing our core narrative.
Step 3: Understand the hero/mentor dynamic
This step is crucial. If you attempt to develop a story-based marketing strategy and fail to implement this then you will be left with an audience that may have enjoyed your content, but is still not willing to buy from you. Such is the case for many brands that have attempted to appease large audiences. They subsequently left out any tangible benefit of doing business with them. This leads to advertisements that get a lot of interactions and interest but fail to convert a substantial number of potential clients into buyers.
Often this can be the result of an off-kilter hero/mentor dynamic. This happens when a company incorrectly sees themselves as the hero of their story. They are running around solving their client’s problems and the client simply sits there happily. The problem with this dynamic is that it fails to capture the self-interested viewer.
The power of story is primarily its ability to transport the audience into a fictional world. They can see themselves in hypothetical situations that you have created for them. In this fictional world you should place your company as a valuable asset in the completion of the customer's story, not the company’s. The problem with placing the company as the hero is that it fails to transport viewers. They cannot connect with the company’s story because it does not apply to them. The client is always the hero, and you're a part of their story.
The company’s role is as a mentor. When you transport the viewer into the world of the story, they are the ones whose story is told. They have dreams and they have problems. Your company’s role is to show them that they can accomplish those dreams or overcome those problems. All they have to do is choose you as a mentor and take your advice. This goes beyond simply buying your product or service and places you as a much more connected partner helping them to be how they desire to be. And a potential client that views your company in that manner is going to buy from you much more.
Step 4: Implement the story slowly
While re-branding is a fun way to introduce a new and fresh look for a company it is often a poor way of creating lasting positive change. Implementing story marketing into your company should be methodical. You should test the story in small quantities to targeted audiences. Then you can understand if there was a positive, negative, or lack of response to your story.
One of the simplest ways of doing this is by laying your story out on the About page for a targeted audience. Look to see specifically who is going to your website most and craft a detailed and impactful story for them on your About page. Then see if there is more time spent on the About page with that audience, if they are on your site longer, going to multiple places on the site and, ultimately, if they are buying more from you. This is the simplest and easy way to introduce story into your marketing strategy.
Step 5: Tell it to a larger audience
Once your narrative is well-defined and you have tailored a story that targets a specific audience, it is time to develop high-quality content and roll out a campaign. This campaign should focus on using story to tell your specific audience how they can either accomplish a desired goal or overcome a difficult barrier by utilizing the mentorship of your company. Your company is not offering a product or service. You're offering a solution to the underlying problem that your hero (potential client) is facing. The content should be compelling and engaging. You should have access to analytics software to understand exactly how your audience is reacting to your advertisements.
These are some of the first steps that a company should take to understand how their brand strategy can involve story marketing. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Story can be involved in many more ways than simply putting together a marketing campaign. While story is the best way to get new clients, it is also the best way to keep them as well. Set up an introductory meeting with us so that we can discuss the best way for story to impact your business!