What’s Your Story?

by Mistina Picciano on August 25, 2010

Try this exercise.

  • Take a sample of your marketing materials, something that will likely form a prospect’s first impression: your website home page, a brochure.
  • Take a similar sample from two or three of your competitors.
  • Read these passages and highlight any similarities among them.

Do you stand out from the crowd? Or are you saying the same thing as everyone else?

Maybe you’re thinking, “But we mean it.” Or, “That’s what customers are looking for.”

In either case, you’re missing the chance to tell your story. What really sets you apart from the competition?

From boring…

Last week, I met with two different businesses:

  • A construction company that touted its track record of delivering on time and on budget.
  • A marketing firm for nonprofits that talked up its mission to design for the greater good.

“What’s wrong with that?”, you might ask. These sound like fine messages that would appeal to prospects.

You would be correct.

Unfortunately, every other competitor is saying the same thing, often the same way.

To bravo

Let’s take another look at the examples above.

  • This contractor’s track record of quality extends nearly a half-century, resulting from the principals’ involvement with each and every project. This personal service is equally evident in their cultivation of client relationships.
  • The founder of this agency brings an exceptional level of passion and intellect to every engagement. Under his direction, this creative team helps clients achieve marketing and business development goals on multiple levels.

These are the stories that should come through in their marketing materials, not the generic drivel that populates most collateral.

Your turn

Now let’s go back to your own marketing messages.

What’s the story that’s not coming through? What distinguishes you from the other businesses or agencies in your sector?

  • Pick one point of differentiation (e.g., innovation, customer service). Note: The key is to be different. Even if competitors do the same thing, it’s fair game if they’re not talking it up. Remember the famous Coors campaign highlighting the purity of their steam-cleaned bottles?
  • Identify specific proof points. For instance, if you’re innovative, do you encourage and reward employee suggestions? Share examples of how clients benefit from these creative solutions.
  • Tell the story. Show your audience that you’re different. Start by telling them something fresh and new, something they haven’t heard from everyone else in your industry.

Do you have a great story to tell? Please share. We love to highlight companies and organizations that really do things right.

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