Purple Papers

Can I Tell You a Story?

Successful marketing is all about the ability to tell good stories.

Most companies work to get their name and capabilities into the marketplace by connecting with their audience. Your storytelling abilities are a very important skill set to reach your audiences in ways that can influence the way they think about you or your company. Though storytelling has evolved greatly in recent years, from old-fashioned storytelling - one-way communications such as white papers and press releases – to conversational storytelling – interactive, two-way communications such as blogs and tweets, stories still need to share your unique experiences with your audience.

They should be rich with imagery, add value and capture the attention of your readers, your clients and your potential clients. The question is are you telling your stories in a way that are truly an expression of your firm and its brand? Are you regularly communicating who you are, what you’re working on, your aspirations and what your value proposition is to your current and potential clients? Here are five elements of successful storytelling from Robert Dickman and Richard Maxwell, authors of The Elements of Persuasion:

  1. Have passion – This should be a no brainer, ask anyone to tell you about how they successfully worked with a client to achieve the client’s business objectives or obstacles and you’ll get an earful. Remember the more authentic or passionate the storyteller, the more compelling their story becomes.
  2. Become a hero – Every good story includes a protagonist, this person needs to be someone the reader can relate to, admire and respect. This person, or team, should engage your target audiences so they want to read about what good work or deeds they did, after all if someone is looking for your servicers more than likely they are looking for someone they can relate to, that will understand them and take care of them.
  3. Identify the antagonist – If there were nothing at stake, there would be no story to tell. What were you up against? There doesn’t need to be a super bad company or person, in most cases you don’t even have to identify them by name; think of important work that would appeal to an audience that might encounter similar issues.
  4. Build awareness of your brand – What’s the breakthrough moment in your story? Be sure to highlight the point where you “rescued” your client and use this “Aha!” moment to teach your audience about the skills you used that might be an attraction to them as well. They need to relate this success not only to the hero/protagonist but to the entire company as well. This is how you build stronger brand awareness based on your expertise.
  5. Celebrate your success – Remember, business is all about relationships – how has your relationship changed or transformed as a result of the story? Think about the implications your success for your client may affect the industry or practice area. Your story is about how you positioned your company as the “go to” place for this type of work. Remember you don’t need to slay dragons, just tell how well you did your work in an interesting way that is engaging and informative.

The rest is simply retelling, retelling and retelling the story. Link the story to appropriate professional bios, practice group descriptions, client lists, news room areas that you may have on your website, use them in your annual reports and RFPs. The more the story is told the greater your reputation will grow and the more your stories of success will spread.

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