It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when people tell you to create a storytelling plan. Luckily, there are stories all around you in your everyday life that are a part of your storytelling opportunity inventory. In episode 496, Dave Mastovich outlines what types of stories are available to tell you might not have thought about utilizing and why it is important to tell them.
It’s the No Bullshit Marketing Show. I’m Dave Mastovich, CEO and founder of MASSolutions, the world’s only No Bullshit Marketing consultants. You know my goal is to help you build comprehensive marketing plans, and then tell top and bottom line stories. The stories you’re not telling cost you money, and way more than that, they cost you brand, they cost you stress, the stories you’re not telling. So today, I want to spend some time talking about your storytelling opportunity inventory.
Your storytelling opportunity inventory is just that. It’s when you take the time to be intentional about building out an opportunity inventory that showcases what stories will be told, for which target audience, through which channel and at what frequency. We actually go through an exercise with clients. I’d be happy to send it along to you if you follow up with an email to me on this at Dave@MASSolutions.biz so you can get your storytelling opportunity inventory tool. And while it might look straightforward, it is straightforward. But actually taking the time and being intentional about it is the key. And bringing in some creative mindsets of how to take advantage of opportunities that right now, you aren’t even thinking are opportunities. What do I mean by that? Well, first of all, when you start to talk about your storytelling opportunity inventory, there are all kinds of different places to tell stories. So it’s not just doing an inventory of which anecdotes and analogies that you tell. That’s vital. But it’s also doing an inventory of where and when you tell them. That’s where stories are missed, and it’s costing you. I always give the example that we get so many emails a day. And people think, well, ‘I barely can get to my emails, let alone leverage them as a storytelling opportunity.’ And I understand that. But when you start building your storytelling opportunity inventory, you need to put on there that stories can be told through email. And they can be told to different audiences. So if you’re filling out that form, you’d say, ‘Well, I get 100 plus emails a day.’ I think the average for leaders is about 180 – 385 emails per day, depending on which study you look at. I’m not saying that each one of those becomes a lengthy story. Nor am I saying that any of them really becomes a lengthy story. What I think is when you decide to leverage email back and forth with someone as a storytelling opportunity, it’s when you use anecdotes and analogies, or go-to phrases that you’ve used again and again so that you can just reference that phrase in an email and make your point.
I often give the example that I have a phrase called, ‘it’s the issue, not the instance.’ Because when we’re making a similar mistake again, and again, and again, each instance we can defend and say something happened. I’ll use an exaggerative example. Let’s say that someone is late turning something in, they’re late for a meeting, they’re unprepared for a meeting, they’re late for work one day. Each instance they say, ‘Wow, it was snowing today. There was a lot of traffic. Or, Suzanne didn’t get me what I needed, so I wasn’t able to get that done. I got stopped on the way to the meeting.’ Those are each instances. The bigger issue is that that person isn’t being intentional about deadlines and prioritizing things and time management. That’s just a simple example. There are hundreds. I used to use the issue, not the instance, as a coach. And I still do when I coach. I talk about each play. Someone can say what happened on that play, but typically, there’s a bigger issue that you can learn from and get better at. That’s one of my phrases, not yours. That’s not the essence of this story today. That’s not to get you to worry about the issue, not the instance. It’s that you, too, you also have phrases that you repeat, you also have anecdotes and analogies that you tell again, and again, to your team, to your peers, to your boss. That’s how you incorporate email as a storytelling opportunity.
Now that was going down a little rabbit hole about email, one channel. But if you look at that storytelling opportunity inventory, it starts off by saying, what is the story that you’re going to tell? Who are you going to tell it to? Who’s the target audience? What’s the channel that you’re going to use? And what’s the frequency that you’re going to do that? So, emails to peers could possibly be done as a storytelling opportunity. An all employee email that goes up can be a storytelling opportunity on that list, but that’s just talking about email. But there are other ones that you’re missing, because you have to tell your cultural story. Business-to-employee storytelling is essential at any company. So if you are in the marketing department, you’re on the marketing team, or maybe you’re on the biz dev sales team. Maybe you’re the head of marketing, maybe you’re the founder of the company, maybe you’re in another department, it doesn’t matter. You’re a part of the company storytelling. So you need to say, ‘How can I incorporate our mission, our vision, our purpose, our core values? How can I infuse that into our storytelling? Then, how can I take advantage of storytelling opportunities within our company?’ So when you go to your storytelling opportunity inventory, a values-based story might be targeted to a specific department of employees, and it might be done at a staff meeting. And it might be done every week, mapping that out. And the next one might be, ‘Well, I want to have a core value story told in our town hall meeting that’s done quarterly.’ And so the target audience there is all employees. The channel is town hall meeting, the frequency is quarterly. You get where I’m going here.
The stories you aren’t telling are costing you money, they’re costing you market share, they’re costing you employee retention, they’re costing you on the recruitment front, the stories you aren’t telling. That’s why it’s important that you use your storytelling opportunity inventory to do two things. It maps out the anecdotes and analogies, the storytelling pillars that roll up under your big idea. The story is tied to your B2E storytelling, your core value storytelling, it maps out all those stories. And then it maps out which target audience is receiving which story? What channels can be used for that story? And what is the frequency of telling it? When you’re intentional about this, you now have your storytelling content calendar, your storytelling strategy and activation plan for B2E storytelling, for your brand storytelling, for your lead-gen storytelling, for your referral source storytelling, your leadership storytelling.
I have not found many companies, large or small, that are intentional enough about first, crafting that list of anecdotes and analogies that support their big idea, their mission, their reason for being, and their customers’ reason for buying, stories and anecdotes and analogies that will resonate because they’re stories about people, and their stories that tell your story that you think is nothing that’s actually something. So you have that part of the inventory is all of these stories that need to be told.
But the second part of the storytelling opportunity inventory is deciding on which target audience receives which story, through which channel, at what frequency. This isn’t rocket science or chemistry or calculus. But it’s also not something that just happens. It’s like most things in life – it’s somewhere in between. It’s not going to just happen. It can’t be half assed, it can’t be something you just talk about. But it’s also not something that’s so complicated that you need to spend six or seven figures and have some super-duper process that you overcomplicate. It’s somewhere in between. And it’s about being intentional, having the intentionality of taking the time to formalize the process of your storytelling opportunity inventory, an inventory of anecdotes, analogies, supporting storytelling pillars that roll up to your big idea and tell your company story on the mission, vision, purpose, and tell your customers’ why and your why or reason for being, tell all of that. But the second part, the most neglected part, is going through all those opportunities to talk to employees, current and prospective, that are within your building, that are already within your processes and communications that are going out, your your level 10 meetings if you’re using EOS, your repetitive meetings that happen weekly, your big group meetings. All of that are opportunities to tell your story to current and prospective employees.
And there’s also all kinds of storytelling opportunities to tell current customers to build stickiness, but also to get them to buy more. And then there’s stories that need to be told for lead-gen and prospective and new customers and prospective employees. It’s not done in a comprehensive way. That’s why I talk so much about comprehensive marketing plans that lead to creating top and bottom line stories. You can do it. Start today. To learn more, reach out. Dave@MASSolutions.biz.
Thanks for listening to another episode of the No Bullshit Marketing Show recorded here in MASSolutions studio in bold, beautiful, downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Remember, ask yourself, what’s the big idea? And build your story around the answer. It’s all about bold solutions. No BS.