When it comes to the basics of our scope as communicators, we often focus on activity-driven efforts, that result in an output or outtake. This is sometimes done at the expense of the fundamentals.

What are we trying to share with our audiences, to influence them to do some action, in our interests, that will deliver some form of value to them?

One of those fundamentals we have explored previously is project management, and the various means of measuring our outcomes.

Another fundamental is understanding our positioning, and deploying the right set of messages, to be told in a story.

A story or a narrative that matters to the audience member we are seeking to engage with.

What is storytelling, in the era of the communicator?

Storytelling helps the communicator connect with the audience and convey/explain complex ideas in a relatable manner. Telling a story can help to build trust and credibility and earn you reputation.

With storytelling, the communicator can humanise the brand or organisation. This humanisation makes the brand/organisation relatable to their target audience.

Through stories, complex ideas and concepts can be distilled and explained in a way that is engaging and easy to understand.

People are more likely to remember stories than they are to remember a list of facts or statistics. By crafting a compelling narrative, you can ensure that your narrative/message stays with the audience longer.

How does storytelling help me with my role and my scope, in my organisation?

There are several ways storytelling/sharing a narrative helps us with our role and scope as communicators.

Engaging with stakeholders: Whether it’s customers, employees, or colleagues, storytelling can help you engage with these stakeholders and build meaningful relationships. By sharing stories about challenges, goals, successes, milestones, etc., you can create an emotional connection that goes beyond the transactional layer with your stakeholders.

Influencing public opinion: Storytelling can be a powerful tool for influencing public opinion on issues that matter to your organisation. By using stories to illustrate the impact of your organisation’s work, you can inspire action among your stakeholders and the target audience.

Building stronger branding: Storytelling can help you create a compelling brand narrative that resonates with your target audience. By telling stories about the history, mission, and values of your organisation, you can build branding that is authentic and relatable.

Managing a crisis: In times of crisis, storytelling can be an effective tool for managing communication and mitigating damage. By crafting a narrative that acknowledges the issue, takes responsibility, and outlines a plan for moving forward, you can help your organisation loss less/regain trust and credibility.

strtgcommsgrp - ways of storytelling

Sidebar: A summary of the history of storytelling and humans.

Storytelling is the art of conveying a message through a narrative.

In our history, storytelling was used to pass on knowledge and traditions, as well as to entertain and inspire listeners. Some of the earliest known examples of storytelling can be found in cave paintings and other prehistoric art forms, which depict scenes of hunting, warfare, and other aspects of daily life.

As societies developed, storytelling took on a more formal role, with professional storytellers, bards, and poets playing a significant role in preserving cultural heritage and shaping societal norms.

The development of written language in ancient civilizations marked a significant turning point in the history of storytelling, allowing for the creation and dissemination of written texts and the development of written storytelling traditions.

It has played an essential role in shaping human culture and communication and serves as a way for people to connect, share experiences, and pass on knowledge and traditions from one generation to another.

In more recent times, the rise of mass media, has transformed the way we tell stories and consume information. Storytelling remains an essential part of human culture, connecting people, preserving traditions, and inspiring new generations to create and share their own stories.

In a world where information is abundant and attention spans are short, effective storytelling can make all the difference in capturing an audience’s attention and creating a lasting impression.

What is a narrative?

It is a story created by your brand/organisation to describe what your brand does, who your brand sells to, and a key emotion you want this audience to feel when they interact with your brand.

The narrative/brand story is important to people beyond the founder and pioneer team. The narrative can resonate with both employees and customers, supporting the building of community.

It is used to encourage engagement with your brand and start to build a community and loyalty. Your brand story can be the catalyst for a customer to give your product/service a try, even if they are unfamiliar with your brand.

Importantly, the brand story should drive emotion. Customers process emotions better than information and this leads to a better understanding of the brand and links to empathy. Empathy leads to trust and trust can drive revenue.

4 values to add to your narrative.

strtgcommsgrp - a good narrative

Use emotion: Emotion is a powerful tool in storytelling, and it can help you create a more memorable and impactful message. When crafting a story, try to evoke emotions like empathy, inspiration, or even humour, depending on the message you want to convey.

Keep it simple: While storytelling can be a complex art form, it’s important to keep your message simple and clear. Avoid using jargon or complex language that might confuse your audience and focus on a clear and concise message that they can understand and remember.

Tailor your message to your audience: Different audiences will respond differently to different types of stories. Before crafting a story, consider who your audience is and what message will resonate with them.

Be authentic: Authenticity is key to effective storytelling, and it can help you build trust and credibility with your audience. Use examples and anecdotes to illustrate your message, and be honest and transparent about your organisation’s successes and challenges.

How about a positioning statement?

A positioning statement is a description of the uniqueness or key differentiator of your product or service as well as which customer it serves best. It should explain why and how your product/service will add value to the customer and why it is better than the competitor.

Positioning comes before any type of messaging you want to share with the customer – regardless of whether the message is about your overall brand, a key product or a new service.

It is important because it influences and informs the business roadmap. The business roadmap goes on to serve as a guide for supporting functional teams, such as marketing, product and sales.

For example, the roadmap determines what features are important to a specific customer profile, and influences pricing and the public agenda.

Here’s a template for your positioning statement: We are the preferred partner for solving (customer problem/result) to achieve (benefit) for the (target market). We are different from (competition/alternative providers) because we have/use a (unique method/solution) to provide (proven/quantifiable outcome/s).

Test your positioning statement for differentiation.

A positioning statement can make a difference to your brand. It stakes your company’s claim externally by declaring what your brand will provide to the customer and how. It will also sharpen you and your team’s focus internally to ensure that you keep your promise to your customer and deliver credibly.

Test it for differentiation against competitor, partner or industry with these 9 questions:

  1. Can the statement relate to an urgent or critical need or challenge for a well-defined target audience?
  2. Are the points made relevant to your industry and the target audience/customer you want?
  3. Is the statement simple and clear about what your company does, does not and promises to do?
  4. Does it sound credible?
  5. Can your competitors, partners, ecosystem make the same claim, and dilute your ownership of the challenge/need?
  6. Is a competitor, or alternative provider already sharing a similar or same statement?
  7. Is it defensible, either by being hard to replicate or imitate?
  8. Can your brand deliver on the promise of product or service?
  9. Can your partners, teams, employees relate to the statement and demonstrate their ability to meet the delivery of the method or solution?

Why do we need key messages?

A key message supports your positioning.

This is a statement that you want a pre-defined member/group/profile of your target audience (for example, young families 40YO and below with children) to take away post-interaction or engagement with your brand.

It must be precise and serve as a summation of what you do, how you are different and the value to the pre-defined target audience.

You can have more than 1 key message for each pre-defined target audience.

The general practice is 3 key messages per group, and as many target groups as your brand requires.

What happens when a positioning statement and a key message get mixed up?

Confusion begins when the context, environment, description, usage and delivery start to overlap into similar-sounding statements and copy.

What often happens with a blended positioning-messaging statement is it starts to get used across different channels, for example, sales documents, social media pages and even press materials.

The statement starts to define the product or service even though it does not build up to the desired outcome.

This is because it was crafted without considering where it is used and whom it is directed toward.

This sows more confusion amongst the audience; and they leave for a competitor that offers simpler and clearer information.

The negative cost of treating a position and message as the same is easily avoided with some pre-emptive effort.

How do we use these assets then?

Both concepts should not be used interchangeably. Instead, they can and should complement each other. Both positioning and messaging typically form the anchor or foundation of every programme or campaign a brand/organisation looks to kick off.

A clear and concise position influences the messaging statements. Many of the inputs for both statements, descriptions and explanations are similar. That can help your brand remain clear and consistent to your audiences

What can we expect from getting these storytelling fundamentals right, from the start?

A good narrative encourages customers that are new-to-your-brand to try your product and services. Getting a prospect to try your product is a critical step towards converting them into a purchase, and hopefully become a long-term customer.

Positioning can help a brand set the right foundation for the brand, product or service.

A position should be medium to long-term and consistent throughout the brand.

Messages can adapt to the external environment and the audience as they shift due to various reasons. Having good key messages confers many advantages for sales and marketing. It can be used for information distribution, awareness and education-building purposes.

Crafting narrative, positioning and messaging is fundamental – both as a key skill set for a communicator and as a ‘starter kit’ for all programmes and campaigns.

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