Tell Me a Story

November 16, 2012 at 12:13 am Leave a comment

On Monday, the New York Times ran a story on Coca-Cola’s latest website revamp. It is being molded into a publication, complete with stories and an editorial calendar, that the company is titling Coca-Cola Journeys. This may seem a bit extreme. Let’s be honest, this is a beverage company not The Atlantic. Yet, the company makes a solid point that its products are often constants in our changing lives. This uber-brand awareness is exactly the sort of thing that professional services companies should look to achieve.

As your company grows, XYZ Law has always been there.

Take a look at this passage from the piece on the Coca-Cola website:

The journey to introducing Coca-Cola Journey began about a year ago when Muhtar A. Kent, chairman and chief executive, “challenged us to find a way to bring back Journey (the title of an internal Coca-Cola publication from 1987-1997) in the digital age,” Mr. Brown said. “And we thought, ‘Why should our great Coke story stay internal?’ ”

The use of the word “story” is significant because the website changes are indicative of the growing interest among marketers in recasting their communications with consumers as storytelling rather than advertising. Just as attention is being paid to developing content to use for brand storytelling, an appetite also exists for corporate storytelling.

Telling a story is exactly what professional services companies need to do in communications. Client engagement is a critical.

Why not recast your website in a more story-focused vein?

  • How did your use of an expiring tax cut save a company substantial money?
  • What is the story behind the new school that is now populated by bright-eyed students?
  • Share a story of firm-wide teamwork on a major case. Talk about the contributions across the board and the decades of expertise that were called upon. And, mention the piles of pizza boxes on a Saturday when the team had to come in to the office.

Besides websites, there are numerous opportunities to employ storytelling to engage an audience and demonstrate expertise. Consider writing byline articles for trade publications or pursuing speaking engagements before target audiences.

The reality is that the tax code by itself, or the text of a building permit or the letter of the law all can be fairly overwhelming in scope and underwhelming in interest to even those that are deeply reliant upon your mastery of them.  Effectively communicating how you, as a professional service company, utilize experience and education to navigate these complicated areas is essential to proving your worth and forging lasting relationships where the client truly understands your role.

Whether directly or indirectly, the story you can tell is that of your clients. I realize it is hyperbolic to think, as perhaps Coke’s marketers do, that people look back on memories and think about their soda. However, professional services firms play a more important role than just an accessory. They help companies achieve great things and get through difficult periods.

The stories of professional service companies and individuals are compelling. They just need to be carefully crafted and effectively trumpeted.

Michael Bond

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Entry filed under: Marketing, Public Relations.

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