Find Your Voice with Strategic Narrative Marketing | Part 1

How loud is your company’s voice? No matter the industry, I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of us are seeing heavy saturation when it comes to online publishing and content marketing. The noise has its advantages and disadvantages. While you have the opportunity to disrupt the marketplace on platforms that can reach big audiences through PR and marketing, you might find it difficult to make an impact amongst the noise.

Here’s an even better question. Are you leading your industry by clarifying the misconceptions, confusion, opportunities and disruption? If you’re not having any luck standing apart from the crowd, know that you’re not alone. At Catapult PR, a b-to-b public relations firm, this is one of the most common challenges our clients face – being heard and saying something different than everyone else.

If these challenges resonate with you, I have some great news to share. Our specialty at Catapult is helping companies say something different and meaningful in their industry. We’ve done this for almost 20 years and we want to share what we’ve learned with you.

Recently we launched a new industry category — Strategic Narrative Marketing (SNM). The principles of SNM were built upon experiences and success we’ve had with clients. The results? The companies who leverage SNM practices stand apart from the crowd, have something meaningful to say, and drive their market space.

So how can you do this? Follow along with our blog for the next several weeks. We’ll walk you through the key SNM practices and defining tenets in a series of blog posts based on our new book, A Practical Guide to Strategic Narrative Marketing. Today we’ll look at category creation to help you get a better understanding of what Strategic Narrative Marketing is all about.

It all started with a Category.

Here’s a little history for context. Several years ago, we helped a client build a new market category. The company had recently acquired a software platform that was new and disruptive in their industry. The problem – the product was a hard sell in an “old school” industry that was set in its ways. The product’s credibility automatically came into question because an established market category for the technology did not exist.

We were brought on board to help them create this new industry category. As part of our creative process, we looked above the company and products and dug into the industry dynamics. We discovered trends, perceptions, misconceptions and opportunities for the adoption of software in this market space. We leveraged these trends to build the category and launched it through the usual PR routes – a detailed whitepaper, news release and executive briefings with media and analysts.

But this launch was different. Rather than running through the product’s technical features and benefits, the client was addressing the industry trends and developed a strategic narrative to introduce the new category. The category resonated with the analysts and media. They loved it because they had the opportunity to become a part of an emerging industry trend. It provided endless content for thought leadership – white papers, bylined articles, speaking, blogs, social media content and more.

That very first category launch sparked what was the beginning of an entirely new thought process for our agency. It also brought attention to the fact that our most successful clients had one thing in common – they were category leaders. Since then we have formalized they process by following our own good advice and launching Strategic Narrative Marketing.

To get a better understanding of how you can leverage Strategic Narrative Marketing, you need to think differently when it comes to positioning and messaging. In the early stages, when you are developing your own industry narrative, it’s especially important to keep an open mind, because this is a new approach. But, if you give it a shot and follow the principles of Strategic Narrative Marketing, you will be more focused on the betterment of your industry (remember, we’re taking the focus off of your company and products) and will have a voice in a crowded market.

Now, I’m not saying you should never talk about your products. We both know that’s not possible. However, if that’s the only route you take, I believe you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time convincing people to pay attention to your content. What we’re talking about here is being a leader by developing a high-level industry narrative which is most often supported by the launch of a new category.

So, do you want to have meaningful conversations that people care about? Do you want one thing your whole organization can rally around? Do you want to stand for something bigger than yourself? Do you want to own the narrative that sets you apart from your competition? All of these things can be accomplished through Strategic Narrative Marketing – and our agency has seen it work time and again.

I challenge you track along with me as I take you through the Strategic Narrative Marketing process. Maybe you’ll learn something new that you can apply to your organization. We’ll pick up from here next week.