Here is a guest post taken from an article by Andrew Thorp, who I shall refer to as the ‘Chief Storyteller’ at Mojo Your Business – an award-winning consultancy and training company specialising in communication.
Andrew is passionate about helping companies understand what makes them different to their rivals. He then will assist them in crafting that into a compelling story; then help them to tell their story really well.
Here, Andrew shares his thoughts after speaking at a recent M3 Connections event at RBS in Manchester.
There are several content marketing experts in my business network but the most evangelical is surely David Lomas of M3 Media Publishing. I had the pleasure of sharing a platform with him last night at one of his ‘Connections’ events (at RBS Manchester) and was asked to speak on ‘The Importance of stories in promoting your business’.
Like David I’m an advocate of content marketing and for me it’s largely about spotting and sharing authentic and engaging stories. In that sense, modern marketing requires the nose of a journalist and the awareness and storytelling skills of an observational comedian (like Michael McIntyre – above).
Through the content approach you’ve got many more potential touch points with the prospect. They might read one of your articles, watch a video, see a social media comment, hear an interview – and these are easily forwarded to others. They’re a de facto prospect because by consuming your content they’re officially interested in you!
However, with traditional marketing it’s more a case of “if you happen to be hungry we can feed you.” It might hit the mark if the person wants food at that moment, and there isn’t much else on offer. But it’s a bit of a lottery.
For content marketing to work it’s got to be eye-catching, relevant to the reader, nicely produced and sufficiently intriguing to draw people in and engage with you. It starts a conversation and, to quote a famous last line, could well be the “beginning of a beautiful friendship”.
Finding the little stories
In my work I’m heavily involved in helping companies find those stories that many businesses have difficulty generating.
I remember one person asking me how to make his dry cleaning business sound interesting. I suggested to him that instead of talking about dry cleaning, he spoke about the clothes that people brought in and the story behind the clothes.
I suggested, a garment which is soiled or damaged and desperately needs to be ready for 3pm the next day, maybe has the makings of a great customer service story.
These small incidents can be marketing gold, but employees sometimes need a little guidance in how to spot potentially interesting material.
It also helps if you can tell those stories well…
One of last night’s guest from Belgium, was Barbara Goffioul, a member of the European Construction Institute. Barbara told a wonderful tale which involved an unexpected encounter with the Secret Service in Washington DC and being confused with the dignitaries they were there to protect!
But in relating her story, she showed some enviable storytelling skills, recreating the experience for the audience by acting out the scene.
The Big Picture Story
There’s another important part of your story – I call it ‘The Big Picture’.
Some call it your mission or purpose;- Simon Sinek refers to it as the ‘why’. Henry Ford set out to “democratise the automobile”, by using mass productions techniques to right a wrong – that cars were only affordable by rich people.
I’ve been working for several months now with a company called Poole Dick Associates, a quantity surveying firm with a fresh vision to make the ‘Poole Dick’ way widely recognised (in the UK by 2020) as THE way to manage a construction project. We’ve focused on leadership development and culture to serve this Big Picture aim.
What’s interesting is the way this makes it easier for them to network and pitch for business. They’ve got a much stronger and more authentic story to tell now, something in which they feel personally involved. It’s started to win them contracts and attract talent.
The impact of the story on the storyteller
Encouraging employees to capture and share experiences helps them see a connection between their daily ‘micro’ efforts and the wider ‘macro’ aims of the business. In fact this aspect of storytelling is, as George W. Bush might put it, “misunderestimated”.
Blogging and sharing stories face to face, can help us become more reflective, wiser, more socially intelligent, curious, opportunistic, connected, confident and engaged.
So to my mind, content creation and storytelling provides an all round win-win situation.
If it’s done well (good content, nicely packaged, successfully distributed), content marketing has the potential to attract clients and talent in a very effective way. But if you can get your employees really involved in the project, then you may find a level of engagement and motivation from them that surprises you.
Andrew Thorp is the co-founder of Mojo Your Business, a communications consultancy and training company.
Andrew helps businesses develop their unique story and then enables them to use it as a marketing tool and a way to engage and motivate employees.
Twitter @andrewthorp @mojolifeuk.