Story Strategy 101

Imagine yourself at the table with your A Players at the beginning of the year. You’re brainstorming all of the amazing things you’ll achieve by December, and how you might arrive there. You may even identify your goals. Very rarely do you actually start the conversation by creating a so-called marketing plan, right? What we hear most from our clients is that a marketing plan is the last thing anybody wants to write out once annual goals are decided upon. We get it. We’re here to ask you to embrace a new way of planning—story strategy.

Our methods for storytelling come from the wisdom of Bernadette Jiwa. Her books, Story Driven, Marketing: A Love Story, and Make Your Idea Matter: Stand Out with a Better Story are some of our favs. If you want to dive deeper into the act of story building for your brand, we highly recommend them.

What is a story strategy?

A marketing plan is a series of tactics, strategies, and objectives that are intended to get your business noticed. What will really get you noticed is feelings. In other words, the way that your brand makes its intended consumers feel. Think of your favorite Super Bowl commercial. How did it make you feel? Yup, us too. I’m crying at the just the thought of that Subaru commercial, and have even set up a bank account specifically to purchase one for my daughter. She’s one year old, mind you.

If you don’t have a story, you are nobody. Just another piece of dust in the wind, essentially. You didn’t do all of that brainstorming and annual planning to end up being an afterthought.

According to Forbes, Americans alone consume over 100,000 digital words every single day, but 92% say they want brands to tell stories amongst all those words. Stories do all this and more: they help (1) convey your personality, 2) portray your brand as a leader, 3) hit the people in their feels, and 4) keep them coming back for more.

How do you create a story strategy?

Marketing often happens when your customer is telling their colleagues about your product, and how it’s made their life so much better. It happens the moment someone connects feeling to your facebook ad, your commercial, your email, your website, or your brand name.

Take your email marketing campaign for example. Review it and then ask the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this campaign?
  • Who is my audience?
  • How do I want people to feel when they read my emails?
  • What do I want them to do when they are done?
  • What impact will my campaign have on my recipients over time?
  • What story will subscribers tell about my brand after getting my email messages?

If you have a good plan for the questions above, you’re well on your way to being a great storyteller.

Remember that the heart of your story should be about WHY you do what you do, and why it matters. Are you just trying to sell empty rooms at people’s houses, or are you connecting travelers to a community through local hosts? Are you selling sugar water, or are you helping people enjoy their life and their food? Are you hawking a credit card, or are you creating a feeling of membership and privilege? Be clear, then show us how.

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