I have a confession to make. For the past several months (or maybe a year if I’m truly being honest), I have fallen out of love with marketing.
I have been frustrated by the constant focus on the next shiny object – the latest tool, platform, app or trick that promises to be the magic wand that opens the floodgates of customers.
With the release of each new marketing or social media platform, there’s a land rush to get a foothold and gain first mover advantage. And the marketing illuminati proclaim, “you must use this new social media platform or you must try this new tactic.”
Perhaps that new trick or tactic might work for awhile. Maybe a few weeks, months, or if you’re really lucky, a year.
Until it doesn’t.
The game changes. Competition gets fiercer. And now, that shiny new tactic isn’t so shiny anymore and you’re looking for the next magic bullet that promises results.
The problem with shiny objects
Here’s the problem. Many people look at marketing as merely a tactic-driven series of boxes to check on our to-do list.
Don’t get me wrong, execution matters.
But what many fail to realize is that marketing is more than tools, apps and platforms. That is only one small piece of the equation.
Marketing has been – and always will be – about telling the right message to the right audience and distributing that message on the right channels.
No matter what new channels or platforms come and go, it will always be about those things.
So yes, channels matter. Tools, platforms, apps and mediums matter. But, that’s not the only thing. In fact, it’s only one small piece of the equation.
The bigger and far more important piece is creating a compelling brand story that causes the right people to sit up and take notice. But that is no small task.
That’s why people would rather contemplate whether they should start using Snapchat or Instagram stories.
But, those tools don’t matter at all if you have no idea who you are trying to reach and what you are going to say. Without a compelling company
story, your distribution channels and tactics are meaningless.
Your Company’s Story Matters More Than Tools or Tactics
Stan and I had a great conversation the other day. He said something that really resonated with me – there’s nothing new in marketing. At least not really, anyway.
If you think about it, the internet was the last thing that has truly disrupted how companies communicate with customers and prospects.
The web democratized marketing by giving everyone a voice. It circumvented traditional (and expensive) one-way communication with customers, making it easier than ever to connect with your target audience.
Thanks to the internet, the little guy finally has a fighting chance to compete with the big boys.
But no matter how many new tools, channels or apps are created, they are simply distribution channels.
Through it all, there’s one thing that remains the same…
The fundamental principles of connecting with your audience online – or through any channel – have not changed since the dawn of the internet.
In the endless sea of messages we see in front of us on a daily basis, it pays to focus on getting your company’s story right so people actually sit up and take notice.
Crafting a Compelling Brand Story
So, how do you craft a compelling brand story?
Here’s where you should start:
- Determine your mission. If you think about the best stories, the characters were on a mission or crusade. Harry Potter was on a mission to save the world from Voldemort. Luke Skywalker set out to defeat Darth Vader. Dorothy wanted to escape Oz and return home. In your business, you probably aren’t fighting an evil wizard or wicked witch. But, maybe you’re on a crusade to stop unethical practices in your industry or make the world a better place to work. To create a powerful story, you need a compelling mission that causes people to line up to follow you. If you don’t know your “why”, start there. It’s mission critical.
- Identify the characters. Who are your people? In other words, who plays the hero in your story? Who has the supporting role? It’s tempting to think that you are the hero. But, maybe it’s your team. Or, your customers. Whoever it is, get to know them. Describe them in minute detail. Great stories require great characters.
- Create the right setting. Your company’s environment sets the tone for how you do business. We call this creating an intentional culture. And the culture you create has a big impact on the story you’re creating. How does your environment shape your story as a company?
- Connect with the audience. The best way to connect with your audience is to tap into their emotions. To do that, you need to understand the people you’re trying to reach. That way, you can determine the best way to craft a story that connects with them. Do they want to laugh? Cry? Feel empowered? Get angry? Finding the connection point with your audience is what makes a story spread.
Start Building Your Company’s Story Today
I know that this isn’t easy work. And, it’s not something you can hammer out in an hour or even a day. But, taking the time to really think through this will help your company develop a more compelling narrative.
That way, when it comes time to distribute on all of those social media channels, you’ll be ready with a story that people actually care about.
You’ll have a story that stands out. You’ll have a story that connects. And spreads.
And that kind of story can change the world.
If more companies did that, I might just fall back in love with marketing again.