As you start to get some perspective on the closing year, you can now safely say that your company kicked some butt in 2015. This year, you’ve delivered amazing programs and events, doubled your team, profits are up, and you’re starting to make a positive impact in the world.
As a leader, you have intimate knowledge of your mission, products and offerings and stakeholders. But have your stakeholders truly shared in your 2015 experiences? Can your champions and star customers tell you about the good stuff that has happened? How well did you engage them in your brand online and in person?
What about internal brand story awareness? As you grow, are team members losing connections to what is actually happening within and outside of your organization?
I call this the tree falling in the forest phenomenon.
Leaders get so close to what is happening with their brand that they forget that others aren’t psychic and don’t have this same first-hand knowledge and dedication to their brand. And they are losing major opportunities to build brand loyalty and engagement.
THE OPPORTUNITY Helping people experience and understand your business programs, initiatives, successes, lessons learned through brand storytelling increases the audience’s emotional involvement in your brand.
Telling your stories through blogging, videos, social media, and email will help you achieve your business and marketing goals. And brand storytelling is equally, if not more important for startups or small businesses. As content marketing & SEO experts Neil Patel & Ritika Puri of QuickSprout.com say, “Good stories give big voices to small ventures.”
Here are FIVE CORE PRACTICES that you should lean on for 2016 to build brand engagement through storytelling.
- Hire a Brand Journalist. You may have heard of recent layoffs at your city’s newspaper. Talented journalists are reinventing their careers in this digital age, and smart companies and non-profits are hiring them internally, as staff or consultants, to capture their news and stories. A roving reporter with the right skills and personality can help create a more open culture where your people feel that their hard work is appreciated and noticed.
- Know & Capture the Myths & Legends Surrounding Your Brand. Before you’re moving forward to get your brand stories out there, it’s a good idea to delicately learn more about both the history of the company and the version that your employees and customers tell.
Internally: Every office has both gossip and its own version of internal storytelling, which may tell a very different tale than what you’d hear from the C-suite. Keep in mind what people aren’t saying can be as important as what’s circulating. The information and stories that you discover can be important culture and morale indicators. It can also uncover training and education opportunities.
Externally: Are there myths out there about CEO behavior, corporate practices, or culture? Your customer experience & perception can be radically different than what you perceive as an insider. Through a “listening tour,” a person who has a good rapport with customers, members or clients could get insights through a series of informal in-person or phone conversations.
- Make Them Care by Leveraging Fictional Storytelling Techniques Tell stories about people your audience can stand behind and root for. They must have personality! What is a story about? A character that wants something (the object of desire) and overcomes conflict. The protagonist in the story is your company, the antagonist is the opposition. Important: If you want to be transparent and also share your failures, your company can also be portrayed as the antagonist.
- Be Consistent – Don’t Leave ‘Em Hanging. Having a consistent presence is so critical. If you leave them on a cliffhanger, or promise a certain story or offering, then don’t deliver, they will lose interest. Make your life easier and create a content calendar for 2016, so it’s easier to stay on track.
- Capture Many Voices, But Have a Consistent Brand Voice While the CEO or Founder should bring a voice to the company’s vision and also be a known entity on social media, it is equally important to amplify the voices of other people in the company. A good brand strategy articulates your brand’s voice and tone, along with core message, and as long as your people are trained on this message, you should let them drive and implement your content strategy.