Are you a storyteller?

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Brand/Content Marketing and all the other buzzwords are irrelevant.

I just finished reading a great article from the Virgin website.

But first an apology on behalf of the entire marketing industry…

We’re sorry for all the buzzwords. Really.

For years you’ve heard “content marketing” and “be your brand” and many other latest fads bandied about in meetings. In fact, at one previous employer, we had bingo sheets we’d take into the conference room to see how quickly we could achieve “product/end user integration,” “ROI” or anything else “at the end of the day.”

But really, all those words boil down to what the article highlights: Be a Storyteller

That’s all effective marketing, or sales, or any type of communication with a customer ever really is. It’s giving them a feel for you, your company and your products. As the story highlights, you can even use the tools of effective writers.

Good Guys vs Bad Guys – think of all the great brand rivalries. Ford/Chevy, Coke/Pepsi, Lincoln/Miller, Deere/Case IH. By creating an us-vs-them dynamic, you can highlight your advantages, be they real or perceived.

Triumph Over Adversity – Guess what, everyone has failed, but it’s what you do post-failure that can inspire. As Thomas Edison said when asked if he was frustrated with a project’s multiple failures, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That project? Electric light bulbs.

Morals & Social Good – This one can be tricky, and you should avoid bandwagon jumping at all costs. But manufacturing, more than any other industry has a unique position. You’ve literally made this world, country, region and your local community what it is today, and as the skills gap shows, you have a vested interest in their future as well.

Happy Endings – Your new product can save time, money and increase productivity, making the company and individual who use it better and more profitable than before. Sounds like “They all lived happily ever after” to me, doesn’t it?

The story is already there, in the company founding, in the people who make the products, or in how you change your market. It’s just a matter of seeing it, and choosing the way you want to tell it. You’ll be amazed how many different ways you can tell that story. From a 30-second elevator pitch and a Facebook post, all the way up to a white paper and an overarching theme for all materials for the next 10 years, that theme and story can be referenced, retold and expanded on.

So take a step back and really look at your company and market as an outsider. Are there any common themes or issues? Can you, your company or your products change or solve them? Does your company or product have a unique origin story that puts Iron Man to shame? Do you have incredibly smart engineers, or passionate people on the production line? Are you doing something that will change the world, or even a little corner of it?

Then get out there and tell a story.

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