Don’t Be Boring: How to Use Stories to Define Your Company
A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon the concept of content marketing for the first time and was addicted to it like a cat to catnip.
As Content Marketing Institute (CMI) explains, “Content marketing is the practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism.”
It was like someone had dropped a bomb in the hazy mess of what were then my half-formed ideas about sales, marketing, and storytelling and from the ashes had emerged something tangible, measurable, and holistic.
Everything finally made sense! This was the kind of marketing I loved and the kind of marketing I wanted to do for COACT.
So, working with senior members of our leadership team, I went about trying to codify and quantify our content marketing strategy. I read every free resource I could find and subscribed to all the “best” content marketing blogs out there and then came up with a checklist of everything (I thought) we needed to do to roll out the Perfect Content Marketing Program™.
I was trying so hard to do what everyone else did that I lost sight of what really makes content and companies stand out—namely, stories.
So how are stories important when you’re developing your content? Read below to find out!
Stories help you truly define the heartbeat of your company and your services and/or products.
In one of his recent Business Builders videos, our president, Mark Frasco, talks about Strategic Architecture—or, four key questions he asks companies to help them define their organization and their business growth system:
- What do you supply?
- How do you supply it?
- Who buys it?
- Why do they buy from you?
These questions may sound simple, but you can really get some major gold nuggets out of them.
From the first question and the fourth question, stories will begin to arise, stories of who your company is and where your firm comes from, about the company backstory, the product backstory—and stories of your best customers, success stories that can be used to define what makes your company the best, what defines the heartbeat of your mission statement, why people buy your product(s) or service(s) and what makes them stay on as customers.
And in the business world, what is a story, exactly? I think I heard it summarized best by CMI Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose at a Content Marketing Master Class this past November when he described a story as:
- A well-crafted, entertaining, engaging & convincing argument
- A good story gets to the TRUTH—not the facts. What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.
It’s the why something happens, in other words.
Stories help you define the dramatic differences your company offers so you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.
By developing these stories, your company will be able to develop and refine its Value Propositions—powerful statements of value that create a dramatic difference in a buyer’s mind and help the buyer understand your competitive differentiation.
Value propositions build and expand on the old idea of FAB: Features, Advantages, and Benefits, going one step further in the buyer’s mind. You create something quantifiable.
In his video, Mark illustrates the differences between a traditional FAB statement and how you can build on them to make a true value proposition:
Stories can help you develop compelling content that captivates your audience(s) and can be used as sales tools by your business development team.
During the Content Marketing Master Class, Rose broke down the difference between tales and stories and illustrated the difference in examples of content:
Here’s my story: I, a green marketer, fell into the trap of Keeping Up with The Proverbial Joneses. If our competitors had this, then we had to, I thought! If our competitors said this, then we had to say it better.
I was wrong. I’d been so focused on trying to make our content marketing program like everyone else’s that my ideas were centered around formulating content that was really just like everyone else’s—and therefore, not original or different in any way. More noise.
I realized that content—whether a video, datasheet, newsletter article, etc.—is much more compelling when there is a story behind it. When you throw in anecdotes or success stories, a beginning and an end. Unique stories that get to the heart of your companies—stories infused, appropriately, with authenticity.
I remember stories—but I don’t remember the last article about “Top 10 Things to Include in an Effective Sales Email” that someone sent me because I get these kind of regurgitated content emails all the time.
Because, well, let’s be honest—those kinds of marketing are boring. Stale. Unoriginal. Unmemorable.
Tales, not stories.
So when you develop your own stories and formulize them into content, you can captivate your audience(s). And the stories, in turn, can be useful tools for your sales team when they are talking with prospects. Powerful speaking points. Ways to break down a buyer’s resistance to buy.
A way to forge connection, to make your company stand out, to give your company credibility—and help you to earn the prospect’s trust.