What’s Your Story?
Few things are as intrinsic to human behavior as telling stories. From religion to music, politics to entertainment, storytelling is at the heart of everything that draws us in and leaves us wanting more.
No matter the industry, offering or customer, a thoughtful and well-presented corporate story will reach its objective and stay top-of-mind long after others have faded away.
But what makes a great story for your company? According to Christopher Lochhead, it’s about knowing your companies POV, or point of view.
“From a marketing and sales perspective, your POV is the story that encompasses the problem that you solve, the value you provide, and why customers should buy from you. From a product development perspective, the POV becomes “true-north” for what goes into the product and what doesn’t.”
I love this thinking. Great story telling has a point of view. Great story telling amplifies the truth!
Is Your Story Tangible?
I am passionate about bringing stories to life for companies. It’s my specialty.
A framework I use to determine positioning and plan campaigns that bring corporate stories to life is found in The Marketing Playbook: Five Battle-Tested Plays for Capturing and Keeping the Lead in Any Market, written by former leaders of Microsoft Windows and Office marketing. During their years at Microsoft, John Zagula and Richard Tong helped Microsoft Office and Windows grow from a 10% to 90% market share. Yes, the book was published almost a decade ago, but the key messages remain relevant. Understanding market patterns and executing “plays” across marketing campaigns will help create a sustainable and defensible position for your company and products.
The book explains five basic strategies for a competitive market:
(1) The Drag Race Play – you’re surrounded by competitors. Pick one competitor and, like a drag racer, out-accelerate them, leaving them in your dust. Not for the faint of heart. Not a money wise play.
(2) The Best of Both Play - you’re behind a couple of smart players. Zip-up the middle, making yourself look better than both of them. This can also be about defining all new product offerings. Mobile devices, web apps, cloud technologies and social media fall into the Best of Both play. These technologies are bringing down old artificial barriers around the workplace, and companies are creating whole new offerings to compete.
Our current play at Virtual Bridges is a Best of Both play. We compete with huge market gorillas. We deliver a less complex solution with half the cost and all the benefits of the larger competitive solutions. Virtual Bridges does not simply strive to do more or cost less – we’ve built our desktop virtualization solution to do both. We’re currently testing multiple campaigns that support the best of both play: One campaign hits it head on by proclaiming “We’re #3” - We may not be one of the “big guys” in desktop virtualization, but we deliver a big difference –VALUE (Half the Investment, Half of the Resources, All of the Benefits.).
(3) The High-Low Play – You dominate the high end or the low end, or both, and are trying to compete with someone coming out with a best-of-both-worlds product. If you are a front-runner and someone is trying to do a ‘Best of Both’ play on you, block their passage by splitting the category in two and then dominating both houses. Segment further and target more closely than the other guy.
(4) The Platform Play – you won the drag race. Keep potential competitors away by making them into partners. Amazon.com is a good example of the platform play. Stand firm on your platform and repel all boarders. Gather loyal allies. Build impregnable defenses.
(5) The Stealth Play – If you’re not ready for a bruising fight, sneak past your opponents when they are not watching. Quietly wear them down and weaken their weak points further. Stay out of the spotlight and maintain your covert operations.
Of most use in this book and my most tried, tested and perfected takeaway is their framework on how to map the terrain (yourself, competitors, what’s missing,) and how to run a killer campaign that supports your position and brings your story to life. Killer campaigns are internally aligned and externally focused with a sharp precision that cuts through market noise to garner serious attention from targeted customers.
So, one of the hats marketing wears is Story Teller.
A great story has a POV. Your POV is the expression of what your company believes, what makes you different, and why people (customers, partners, employees & investors) should care.
To bring life to your story, POV and positioning you need to understand your market play and have the framework to execute a killer campaign. -Denise
P.S. Next up. Wearing the hat of the Campaign Strategist.