For the past several weeks we have been writing about key Strategic Narrative Marketing practices on our Catapult blog. We’ve looked at how you can find your company’s voice, think higher than a mission statement, and guide strategic direction with a strategic narrative. Today we look at creating entirely unique strategic narrative spaces and themes.
What, exactly, do we mean by that?
Let’s start with the common understand that to standout in the marketplace, you must say some unique and compelling.
However, that’s easier said than done.
We can talk about all the great things we do. We can build infographics and slides of workflows and data streams and technology stacks and end-to-end platforms to our hearts content. We can write “how-to” blogs and helpful tutorials.
In the end, most companies look and sound just like their competitors.
We know it’s not easy to create messaging that is both unique (different and new) and compelling.
However, for companies looking to standout, we have found – and are downright passionate about – the opportunity to elevate messaging to the industry level through a strategic narrative. In the context of marketing and executive leadership, we look at strategic narratives as brand new spaces of messaging. And, the best way to do that is to NOT talk about yourself – but paint an industry vision and make a contribution to the overall good of the category. Successful, forward-thinking companies develop a strategic narrative that accomplishes one or more of the following four things:
Creates a new industry or product/service category;
Re-defines and reinvigorates an existing category;
Develops a new product or process framework;
Educates and/or clarifies a major industry misconception.
If a company can successfully develop a strategic narrative around these core tenets, it can actively lead and take hold of a stagnant market. It can move from convincing to leading.
Here are four areas to consider when developing a unique, industry level strategic narrative.
Create a New Industry or Product/Service Category
The process of defining and introducing a new market category can instantly change the way you think about leading your marketing, company and industry. What organization is not facing industry disruption through the rapid pace of change, new competitor entrants and mega-trends involving legislative, technology and behavioral shifts? Perceptions of existing categories are being shattered daily. The global rush of startups all have a single common goal: disrupt every market they enter. To stand out, consider creating a new or modified category. It doesn’t have to be entirely new industry category; it also can be a new “approach” that is focused on advancing the industry. We have had success modifying existing categories on many an occasion – like expanding the “mobile duress” category into larger organizations and the security industry with “Enterprise Mobile Duress.”
Re-define and Reinvigorate an Existing Category
Often, you may operate within a category that is clearly established. However, there is hardly a market today that is not undergoing continuous change and possible disruption. Identifying trends, challenges and possible contributions to the industry provides an opportunity to share your organization’s insights and vision for the future. By defining the landscape and articulating possible solutions to threats at the industry level, not company level, you can align many aspects of your organization around this narrative.
Develop a New Product or Process Framework
All industries have certain problems to fix, or areas to improve. Consider contributing some of your best thinking to the industry as a means of elevating your company narrative and clearly articulating the leadership role you play within your industry. The software industry, specifically, has been doing this for years with open source. In fact, some of the most successful tech companies started out sharing and contributing to the overall good of the industry through the open source model (software is made freely available and is improved by the community itself). This could take the form of a new process, framework or free technology tool – that aims to solve an industry problem in an inclusive way.
Educate and/or Clarify a Major Industry Misconception
If creating something entirely new, like a category or process framework, seems too daunting or unrealistic, look for opportunities to create a narrative that helps educate and/or clarify any major misconceptions that can adversely impact your industry. Perhaps it makes the case for new technology over the way a market “has always done things.” Perhaps there are misconceptions that are slowing the adoption of products and services in your market segment. Seizing the opportunity to open up the conceptual thought leadership of your industry can uncover all kinds of avenues for the advancement of your brand.
Plenty of successful companies have learned to simply own their market through a variety of tactics and automation. All good. But for companies looking to make an impact, stand out and become true thought leaders in their industry, adopting one of these strategic messaging themes can not only re-energize your messaging, it can re-energize your company too.