How Are You Telling Your Story?

How Are You Telling Your Story?
Joel Newport
July 02, 2015
Sliced fruits stacked

I’ve always believed that good creative helps tell the story of a brand but great creative inspires people to believe and participate in a brand’s story. To do this, a brand’s story must be carefully cared for and protected, so that the story told is one that is consistent and strong.

There is a current trend for organizations to take their brand and their stories, and piece them out as separate projects to be competed for by multiple creative agencies. The obvious reason for this practice is price driven. The more people who compete for the same project, the lower the final cost tends to be for the organization. Also, there’s the thought that multiple agencies will provide an opportunity to be shown the best creative.

The problem with this approach is there is no consistency to the brand story. Multiple messages, creative looks and brand interpretations cloud the marketplace, weakening the brand story. Imagine you’re a book publisher and you want to create an action romance novel with a touch of humor. Now imagine that you hire the best romance writer, the best action writer and the best humorist and assign them each an individual chapter. Sure, you provide all the authors the basic information on what you want your story to be about and the authors will do their own individual research to make sure they tell the best story they can, but what about the other chapters? What are the main characters doing? How do they relate to the chapters that come before and after? You can see how this, no matter how competent the individual authors, would create a story that would be less than satisfactory at best.

So what can you do?

1) Do your own research.

Don’t just throw a request for a quote out into the wilderness. Take some time to find and review agencies that you might like to work with. What campaigns or brands have you seen that made you think, “That kind of thinking would be perfect for my brand”?

2) Interview agencies in person.

Electronic submissions are nice and convenient, but nothing beats an old-fashioned sit-down. And while having an agency present to you is important, be prepared to have a conversation its staff. Ask questions and engage them. This will give you a lot of insight as to whether or not it is the right team for you.

3) Get references.

Not only get references but actually follow up on them. Find out how other clients feel about your potential future agency.

4) Trust.

When it’s all said and done, you have to step back and let your agency do what it does. You might not always be comfortable with the plan or even the creative, but it’s important to stretch yourself and your ideas of marketing. If you’ve done steps one through three, you are most likely going to reap rewards that are beyond your expectations.

Also remember if something doesn’t work – and that will happen – it’s not the end of the world. Every insight and experience is valuable to the marketing process; the good and the bad. But if you have multiple agencies working on multiple projects, it’s much more difficult to share the “what works” and the “what doesn’t work” knowledge.

If you think of your marketing firm as a long-term partner, someone who is invested in your company and its overall success instead of a vendor who is hired to just do your website or other project and move on, you might just find yourself on the path to writing one of the best stories ever told. Yours.