Story Marketing Toolkit
Which Came First: The Chicken or The Egg?
This simple question from American folklore has sparked generations of debates, jokes and mental quests for the answer – or at least the winning argument. Did the first chicken simply appear (or was created) on our planet, or did the first chicken spring from the first egg? If the latter, from where did the egg appear? And around the argument goes.
The truth could be chicken. The truth could be egg. The truth is … chicken or egg as an answer is not the point. Both are the same thing in different forms. One form needs the other to continue their legacy. Whether all chicken-and-egg creation sprung from First Chicken or First Egg, the healthy continuation of both requires a healthy supply of both. Your chicken dinner needs eggs as its source; your omelet needs chickens as its source. End of argument.
What does this have to do with story marketing?
Quite simply, successful story marketing is based on a sharp, effective company brand. A sharp, effective company brand has at its source a clear, focused message. If story marketing is your chicken dinner, your company brand is the chicken, your message is the egg.
An impulse is to see a great story, then leap to capture that same great story for your own company. If you are fine with take-out, mass-produced storylines that reflect just enough of your company to grab the edges of your target market, then you might be able to do that. It is like a chicken dinner: if you want fast food you can get it, quickly and easily, with no work, waiting or thought. But if you want a dinner that is unique, satisfying, exactly what you want and able to attract, retain, and remind guests of your party for years to come, then you must take your time, plan your menu, use the best ingredients and expertise, and deliver an experience that connects with your guests’ tastes and desires.
This course is about creating an irresistible, satisfying, fulfilling, story marketing plan that authentically shares who you are as a company and connects with customers who want what you sell or serve. But first, we need to talk about the ingredients that will lead to this ultimate chicken dinner that is story marketing:
- Finely-tuned and well-assembled details that create a beautiful experience, whether those are the driving directions, coat check, cocktails, stunning main course, clever conversation and relaxing décor of a lovely dinner party, or the well-chosen words and well-crafted structure of a good story, as we will discuss in Session Three.
- Invitations to your guests – in this case, your customers – which we will be discussed in Session Four.
- Foundations of the feast, the chicken and egg – message and brand – that we will examine in Session Five.
That brings us to building the menu – your story – in Session 6 and pulling together the entire event plan in Session Seven.
Before we do all of that, we need to explore two things, which we will do in this session:
- The spark, the seed of it all: your inspiration
- Your ‘pantry’: ensuring you have the tools you need to share your story
What is your story idea?
In this moment, you may have several ideas for stories that you have or wish to share.
Are they worth pursuing? Let’s consider some ingredients.
- Is it unique, something few or no other companies can claim?
- Is it easily explained: not too lengthy or technical?
- Is it sharing something about who you are as well as what you do?
If you have no ideas at the moment, and are challenged to come up with them, we will find them. Consider these sources:
- Day-to-day operations. Your production process, your creative process. These can be of interest to someone who wonders: how do they do that?
- Unveiling or launch: behind the scenes
- Your company history: names or dates that can be expanded into a story
- Your suppliers or colleagues: their day-to-day operations or history
Let us see how these work for you.
In the large group, invite participants to share examples of their own story ideas. How many came from the sources described? Are there any other sources that can be suggested? Record comments on the flip chart.
Then, invite participants to brainstorm at least one new idea from the source list.
Invite sharing and discussion.
Record proceedings on the flip chart.
Ask participants to record their favorite ideas for future use.
When you think of a well-equipped pantry for your dinner party, what things would it include? Essentials would be spices and condiments, sharp knives, utensils, pans – items that are needed for nearly every cooking project. And, what brings all of this to success is the human element – a person or people who can plan, cook, serve, clean up, and shop to stock up for the next meal.
Your story toolkit is similar. There are ingredients and people that will help tell any company story.
Some ingredients are:
- Your history: the company, the founder
- Your location: its relationship to your company and your company’s relationship to the community
- Your company values
- Your company’s community or charitable causes
- Your product/service specifications
- Your track record
- Your motivation: what keeps you coming to work/inventing new things/doing what your company does best?
People in your organization who can help tell your story:
- Staff who can bring an ingredient to life
- Customer testimonials
Activity: Toolbox Inventory
Have each participant list the items discussed, then itemize where or if these items can be found in their organization.
Invite sharing with the larger groups of missing items, or any questions.
Where might these things or people be found?
Are there other ingredients or people their organization could include in their toolkit? Record answers on the flipchart and invite recording in their journals for later use.
Write the inventory list on the flip chart prior to the start of class, and keep it displayed during the exercise.
This is an excerpt from Velsoft’s latest softskills course release, Story Marketing for Small Businesses.