At its core, marketing is storytelling. Telling stories allows you to connect with your target audience; to create and build meaningful relationships. Stories paint a vivid picture of your brand, products and services; they show why you are the best choice.
In professional services marketing, telling stories enables you to garner trust in a digital landscape, where online capital counts for so much. From B2B case studies to blog posts and eBooks, there are various ways you can incorporate stories into your marketing efforts.
The power of storytelling
What's the first story you remember being told? Perhaps it was a fairytale, or a family anecdote. Stories have always been a powerful currency, whether they are intended to inform, entertain, or warn. But what makes them so compelling?
Speaking to Alex Moscow for MarketingProfs, Dr. Simon Moore says: "Stories are psychologically friendly because the way they're structured is very neat. They have a start, middle, and end, which is easy for the brain to process. This is essential because despite having a huge amount of untapped potential we don't have unlimited brain power."
The narrative arc of a story is a recognisable pattern that makes sense to us – and helps us to make sense of the world. You may think that you don't have any stories to tell - but this is not the case.
In their infographic, "The Ultimate Storytelling Guide", Referral Candy state: "Brand storytelling is less about crafting a story than it is about finding one. No matter how boring a brand may seem, there's a story in their product line or value system waiting to be told."
The point is, there is no such thing as a "boring" brand. The services that your company provides are really important to the people that need them. So, how can you find your professional services marketing stories?
Finding your stories
There's no set definition as to what a marketing story should be. However, there are several things it shouldn't be. For instance, you should avoid simply describing the history of your company or how your services work. Instead, you should seek to form a connection with your target audience; to elicit their emotions and engage their interest; to inspire them. They should be able to recognise themselves as the protagonist of your tale.
In his famous TED Talk, Simon Sinek talks about a concept that he calls the "golden circle":
"Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organisations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren't. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organisation on the planet knows what they do, 100 per cent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organisations know why they do what they do. And by 'why' I don't mean 'to make a profit'. That's a result. It's always a result. By 'why', I mean: What's your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief? Why does your organisation exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it's obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organisations – regardless of their size, regardless of their industry – all think, act and communicate from the inside out."
By prioritising the "why", you can tell compelling marketing stories – because it's the "why" that matters to your customers. They don't care about your turnover and profit, your management structure, or business objectives. They do care about why your organisation does what it does – and how this benefits them.
Once you've established your "why", you can fill in the details for your "how" and your "what" – and then you can craft your stories.
Once upon a time…
So, what are some good examples of professional services marketing stories?
A case study is a ready-made story - it already has a start, middle, and end; it charts the tale of how your organisation helped a client to achieve success. It shows "why" your organisation exists – to help people like the client described (people like your target audience). And it likely contains an element of drama; obstacles that had to be surmounted along the way.
You can tell stories in blog posts through addressing your target audience's questions and fears. Consider this recent title from our blog here at Equinet Media: "Should you carry out an inbound content audit?" The post starts with a question (the beginning), it then goes on to explain the value of a content audit and says that, yes, you should carry out one (the middle), and, finally, it explains how to do so, thereby resolving the issue (the end).
eBooks provide an opportunity to tell your marketing stories in more detail, or even to tell multiple stories. Like with blog posts, you can focus on key concerns for your target audience and demonstrate how your organisation can resolve these.
Storytelling is an important part of professional services marketing. Unearth your "why", speak to your target audience's needs, make sure you establish a clear beginning, middle and end, add a dash of drama for good measure - and you will be able to form meaningful business relationships with the people that matter most to your business.