Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

A champion leaving can stop a content marketing strategy in its tracks

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Content marketing and authentic storytelling strategies are new enough to many organizations that momentum can be lost quickly. Just one person leaving can cause these projects to stop immediately.

Organizations sometimes hire or bring people to help with new strategies. These people – let’s call them change agents come in and help organizations tie business goals to content marketing strategy. They help organizations learn how to share authentic stories.

Authentic stories can help our businesses, but they are not marketing messages. Marketing messages are made in meetings and sometimes by committee.

Authentic stories on the other hand don’t get made in meetings, though they can be discussed – or better shared –  in meetings.

Authentic stories happen.

  • Something interesting happens.
  • A customer’s problem was solved.
  • An employee helped another employee solve a big problem.
  • A customer felt fantabulous about his or her experience with your company.

And once they happened, they are shared.

Oh no, some might say: How will we put a process around that? It’s possible – trust me – but but it’s certainly more organic – as some might call it – as a traditional messaging approach, which is drawn up in the meeting room.

Even content marketing strategies that focus on authentic storytelling, should have strategy around them:

  • What are our goals?
  • What stories should we actually tell?
  • Who will tell them? (Don’t forget about the big workflow question. Somebody has to produce them!)
  • Training: How do we train people to spot these stories?

One big piece of authentic storytelling is that the people on the ground floor, those people involved in the day-to-day have to spot the story. They probably already do, but since they haven’t been encouraged to document them, that probably hasn’t crossed their minds.

They probably just share them with each other verbally. They may share them at home. Either way, they probably share them somewhere. Word of mouth!

Authentic storytelling in content marketing means you’ll want them to document them in a non-threatening way for the people involved.

Would people want to share their stories publicly, though? Absolutely. In about two decades in storytelling, few people have declined my request to share their stories. Stories ranged from people murdering others to people getting help from the local homeless shelter. Stories want to share their stories – for the most part.

Even though they do, it’s not something that comes natural to many organizations. We want to control the uncontrollable story.

To move forward this new form of marketing and connecting with your communities (aka target audiences) usually requires a champion. This champion, at the least needs explicit support from executive leadership.

Sometimes, the champion can be a top-notch communicator or ex-journalist. Somebody who understands the art of storytelling. And then step by step this person encourages people to participate and they do!

Great stories shared are celebrated. They make people feel good about the place where they work. They connect us to customers and the customers to us.

We are even seeing new customers coming in. They saw the good stories.

People also want to work at this organization. They see the stories and want to be part of them.It’s not like that where they currently work.

Things are great…. storytelling is working on many levels.

And then the champion leaves. He or she thinks the grass is greener on some other side.

Boom. The organization reverts back to the old ways of doing things. Customers are customers – not community members. Employees are back to being cubicle residents.

Storytelling? Yea, we did that once. It seemed to work – though it was a lot of work. And then so and so left and we didn’t rehire that job.

Who knows why. Something about that we couldn’t measure every single ROI on each penny. It certainly seemed like it was working or at least starting to work.

But that’s that. The champion left and so did the authentic storytelling with him or her. Our content marketing is more marketing than content now. We do tell good stories when we get together for our messaging meetings, though.

Storytelling – like many new and innovative approaches – leaves when their champions leave.


Disclaimers: The information provided in articles is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Enjoy and best of luck telling the best stories in your organization and life!

Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph 319-389-9853

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