The Story Team Marketing Strategy

How to own your brand story, align your team, and get to work.


A Marketing Strategy Built on Your Brand Story


Your marketing strategy should be built around your greatest asset, which is your brand story. No matter where you are in your development as an organization, how big you are, or whether you are a marketing and sales team of ten, or a team of one, your brand story is your most powerful asset. Building your marketing strategy around anything less won’t deliver the kind of long-term growth that is sustainable, and leaves you open to competition that can tell people what makes it different with even modest effectiveness. Your brand story provides the most effective marketing strategy framework.


Consider the alternatives to a marketing strategy built around your brand story:


  • Tactic centered planning: Focused on a new or emerging trend, this approach centers everything around a single strategy that will change over time and will only be effective with a percentage of your customer base.
  • Budget Driven planning: With limited budgets we ask the wrong question, “what could I do with these funds,” rather than starting with your greatest strength and using funds to leverage the impact.
  • Traditional planning: Traditional marketing plan frameworks are not designed for the digital world of highly trackable and agile marketing and don’t include a framework to discover or build upon your Brand Story.
  • Planning without tracking: The ability to see how assets and campaigns are performing is vital to planning. Without attribution (the ability to track a customer back through their online journey), especially when using legacy media types, planning requires too much guess work and not enough data science.
  • Simplistic Brand Stories: An authentic brand story doesn’t come from a simple storyline or arc, it is developed from authentic customer experiences and then aligned with your corporate purpose and values. Real brand stories weave together multiple customer experiences. This limited approach is too shallow to create an authentic brand story.
  • No planning at all: A common status for many organizations is simply the continuation of what they’ve always done or the election of whatever marketing opportunity they heard about at a conference or webinar.

Form Your Story Team


A marketing strategy that will have the greatest impact begins not by asking “what should we do?”, but rather, “who can best inform the plan?” The “who,” is always going to be the people who are the real storytellers; customers and internal team members. These are the people who carry the Brand Story and from whom a Brand Story Strategy can emerge. They’ll become internal owners of the brand story and allow it to be formed authentically and with the greatest impact.
A marketing plan document developed in isolation will never create the same impact. In a Brand Story Strategy, the customer experience begins with the very first time they learn about your brand all the way through the journey of consideration, becoming a customer and then receiving your services and support. To customers, the experience does not occur in three silos, so we don’t believe that these should be isolated. While different teams may work on each role, the process is actually a cycle (see the Story Canvas). Marketing leads to Sales, which leads to customer services which create referrals and reviews which leads to marketing, etc.

Step 1: Goals


Summary

Define your business objectives and convert your business goals to marketing, sales, and service delivery goals.


Story Team Objective

Develop goals that are shared across the Story Team to increase understanding about the interconnectedness of roles and the impact of share goals.


Overview

Beginning with your business objectives, you will create marketing, sales, and service delivery goals that are specific and measurable. Why integrate Marketing, Sales and Service goals? In a Brand Story Strategy, the customer experience begins with the very first time they learn about your brand all the way through the journey of consideration, becoming a customer and then receiving your services and support. To customers, the experience does not occur in three silos, so we don’t believe that these should be isolated. While different teams may work on each role, the process is actually a cycle (see the Story Canvas). Marketing leads to Sales, which leads to service which creates referrals and reviews which then leads to marketing, etc.

Step 2: Targets


Summary

Clarify and know your target audience with a Persona or Ideal Client Profile for each unique group.


Story Team Objective

Take the experiences the Story Team has with customers and help identify more clearly what traits and characteristics define the ideal customer. Share insights into customer communication preferences and connection points. Learn to listen to customers more deeply and to turn customer insights into action.


Overview

Creating targets for marketing and sales is about focus. Creating focus allows you to spend time and resources reaching people that are most likely to become customers. There are two primary ways to create these targets—individual personas or company profiles, depending on whether you are a consumer-focused or a business to business company.

  • Consumer-focused companies use personas- A buyer persona is a composite representation of your ideal customer based on market research plus real data about your existing customers.
  • Business to business companies use personas for the individual members of buying committees plus an ideal customer profile (ICP) to describe the company that is the best fit for your services. Your ICP should focus on relevant characteristics of your target accounts, such as: Industry/vertical, how many employees they have, and size of the company.

Finding the center of your target.


Both the persona and the ICP should be viewed as the “center of the target.” You may reach other people who fall on the margins of these descriptions, but without a target, your marketing and sales will be much less effective—target nothing, reach nothing. Your service delivery will be less skilled because it has to adjust to an exceptionally wide variety of consumers so that support materials are generalized, impersonal and not tailored to the specific audience. For example, the learning style of millennial dads in NYC is different than members of the greatest generation in the midwest.

Step 3: Competition


Summary

Complete a competitive analysis including brand story, services and value positioning. Look for gaps and opportunities as well as threats and weaknesses.


Story Team Objective

The brand story is how your organization serves people within the context of your competitors. As insiders to your brand story, the team will gain real insights into how your brand story fits into how people will see in comparison with others, and help you identify ways to position your brand story and quality services in ways that help you protect or gain an competitive advantage.


Overview

Brand stories aren’t told in isolation. Your prospective customers, who are looking for a product or services, will be exploring all the options. A fresh look at how your brand story stacks up against other options for your target audience will help you improve your services, clarify how your brand story uniquely appeals to your customers and give you new tools in how you answer customer questions and close sales.


How to complete a competitive gap analysis.


  1. Identify your competitors
  2. List and define competitor services or products
  3. Find your competitors online and in other marketing approaches
  4. Identify the key elements and budget of competitor marketing 
  5. Uncover your competitors’ marketing to sales process
  6. Analyze the brand story your customers are telling  
  7. Complete a SWOT Analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your organization in the context of your competition
  8. Create a list of responses to this question, “I wish that customers could really understand______________, and here’s why that matters to their choice.”
  9. Create a differentiators list. Make a list of customer questions and draft answers

Step 4: Brand Story


Summary

Define a brand story that lines up your marketing, sales and customer service with the customer experience and your unique position in the market.


Story Team Objective

Collect and turn stories into brand story insights that become part of the company language throughout the company using the Story DeckTM.


Overview

We often confuse brands with logos or the color scheme that a brand employs. Your brand is really everything that a customer comes to believe about you from their first awareness all the way through becoming a faithful customer. The story of that experience is the real basis of your brand story. Brands that are not rooted in customer stories cannot carry the weight of authenticity and can often be viewed by customers as something invented in a dark room by Mad Men. But organizations that listen deeply to their customers and understand the most important ways that they help, have the opportunity to step up to elevated kind of brand - a brand story. The brand story lifts marketing, sales, and service in the organization by connecting to the power of the human brain’s story-wiring—a universal hunger to connect our lives to stories.

The Story Team approach to building brand stories equips key stakeholders in your company to become brand story owners, and to bubble up authentic brand stories. Yes, we said “stories” (plural) because real stories are not a single storyline, with a simplistic story arc. Instead, they are the combination of experiences that all go together to tell a realistic and powerful story. Learn more about this approach to Brand Stories.


Step 5: Alignment


Summary

Align marketing and sales teams for more powerful sales and marketing through sales enablement.


Story Team Objective

Create a stronger connection between marketing, sales, and service by connecting the unique customer insights that each role brings and creating stronger handoffs between roles.


Overview

Too often marketing, sales and service roles function in isolation from each other. A great deal of impact is lost because customer insights and needs are not shared effectively from department to department or between roles. To create sales enablement and more effective marketing and service.


Story Team alignment creates:


  • A regular rhythm of communication
  • Intentional handoffs
  • Essential cross-role support
  • Documented commitments for cooperation
  • More effective performance
  • Faster goal achievement

Download the Story Team Alignment Ebook

Get your sales, marketing, and customer services teams on the same page. Extend your marketing funnel to the sales funnel, determine shared goals, and more!

Need help with team alignment?

Schedule a free consultation with one of our strategists, and talk through how to align your team.

Step 6: Customer Journey


Summary

Plan and automate the customer journey and experience so you attract, engage and close more while tracking each step.


Story Team Objective

Understand each phase of the customer journey and identify available content and content gaps. Team members will contribute to the content that is needed to answer customer questions and meet needs. Automation will track the entire customer journey resulting in more efficient and effective marketing, strong sales outcomes and shorter sales cycles and more effective service from onboarding to support.


Overview

Before a customer says “yes,” they’ve completed a personal decision journey that starts as they look for solutions that meet their needs and helps them achieve their goals. Competitive organizations first meet customers at the very beginning of their journey and nurture a relationship along the way. Mapping this customer journey and supporting their process of exploration, consideration, and micro-commitments along the way creates a sustained pipeline of customers who rely upon your organization for the essential answers to their needs. It also allows you to ensure that the important answers come from you, rather than from another organization.

The Story Team customer journey is developed using the Story CanvasTM, which helps you achieve maximum impact across the entire customer journey. It brings together the best of marketing, sales and service insights, and coordination plus automated tracking so you can measure the effectiveness from the beginning to the end of your customer’s journey.


Get the Buyer Persona Template

Hone in on your target market and learn how to build a detailed buyer persona that considers their goals, needs, and problems (and how you can solve them!).

Trying to understand your customer’s journey?

Schedule a free consultation with one of our strategists, and get help identifying your customer’s journey.

Step 7: Channels


Summary

Select and implement the best-fit marketing channels to fuel your growth.


Story Team Objective

Customers and prospects use a specific set of communication tools to search, voice their opinions and to purchase. Identifying the specific channels important to your role and maximizing the way you use those channels is vital to marketing, sales, and service. Shared channel insights, contribution, best practices, and monitoring allow for the best execution on the communication channels vital for your organization.


Overview

Your organization needs to identify and master a specific set of communication channels in order to grow. While this almost always includes your website, it’s also about all the other ways that customers choose to learn, search and share. It’s no secret that half of the consumers will first voice their displeasure on social media, and while social media has long been the domain of marketing, it’s important for service and sales too. Automation and effective listening along with the right training will boost the way you attract, win and keep new customers.


Don’t be boxed in by just one kind of content. Whatever medium your target audience prefers should become a channel that you master.

Step 8: Content


Summary

Combine the wisdom of sales, service and marketing to answer the critical questions of the customer and provide value online.


Story Team Objective

The team will be a key resource in identifying every question that customers are asking, and providing the best possible answers. You’ll contribute to content that is identified in the Story CanvasTM to answer customer questions, demonstrate the credibility and share the expertise of your organization. Content developed will serve marketing, sales and service roles.


Overview

The gaps and opportunities the team identified in the Story CanvasTM will provide a ready made map for creating the content that will provide customers exactly what they are looking for and need in order to trust you, make decisions and become life-long supporters. Your Story Team is already the knowledge holder, and they are the best resource for answering the questions and queries that prospects and customers have about the products or services you provide. Your content process will include creating a master headline document, matching the content to the channel and then creating winning content that will be shared in a variety of ways.


Not sure where to start with good content?

Schedule a free consultation with one of our strategists, and talk through the foundations of a content strategy.

Step 9: Optimization


Summary

Optimize your website, channel performance, content, and campaigns for quantity and quality of leads.


Story Team Objective

Learn about and pay attention to key metrics and identify improved methods for your role. You’ll share across the Story TeamTM about your current benchmarks and the plans you have to improve your metrics.


Overview

Every channel can be optimized to reduce costs, increase impacts and speed your organization toward key business goals. Consistent improvement will follow the awareness of metrics and create a routine for improved communication and outcomes.

Step 10: Campaigns


Summary

Put it all together with strategically designed campaigns that help you grow.


Story Team Objective

Increase your awareness of marketing, sales and service campaigns and learn to develop campaigns that are highly effective across all of your channels.


Overview

Campaigns allow the coordinated activity to focus on specific services, products, and opportunities for growth. Strategically designed campaigns often combine multiple channels that multiply the outcomes. With careful design and best practice use of your channels, you can deploy and track the impact of campaigns. This approach reduces campaign costs, creates repeatable success and allows you to focus on growth goals.