"Telling your story" is now firmly entrenched into the lexicon of marketing/corporate-speak. But what does it really mean?
For too many marketers, it is just another way of saying "getting our message out". While both are important, telling stories and getting your message out are two distinctly different things.
Even when an organization commits to telling more stories, it too often becomes another check-box item on the marketing punch list. This is manifested by phrases like "We have to shoot another video—what are we going to talk about?"
So let's go back to the basics. First, here is a definition of a story:
noun, plural -ries, verb, -ried, -ry·ing.
1. a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
Now that you know what a story is, here is a handy-dandy guide to telling them:
- Find the story. Where do you find stories? They are everywhere within an organization: executive/management, departments, customers, vendors, etc. Where ever there are people touching your brand, there are stories. If the only stories you find are drama-filled tear-jerkers, then you have a different problem.
- Determine the medium. What medium will the story be captured in? This will typically be video or written - or a combo of both. If it is interview-style storytelling, then possibly a podcast. Just select the medium that best supports telling the story. Remember that presentation is 80% of branding, so the quality of the production and the content can not suck.
- Determine distribution. How will you get the story out? There are some common sense platforms: your website, social media, and eNewsletter are a few. In addition, you can re-purpose stories for trade shows, sales materials, recruiting, etc. In addition, these stories are excellent points of reference for journalists.
Final tip: Like most things in life, telling stories requires having the right tools, some consistency/discipline, and zero tolerance for mediocrity.
You will know that you are a true storyteller when you recognize a great story and your reaction is "this must be told!" If you have this feeling, it's a good story. Conversely, if you don't have that feeling, you may be slipping back in to "messaging" mode and/or just checking a box on your marketing plan. And if you don't have that feeling, neither will your audience.