Whether you are with a PR agency, a social agency or an ad agency, there is this perception that you have to be in the business of telling good stories. It probably explains why “brand story” has become one of the top buzzwords for marketing in 2019.

After all, a brand story is supposed to differ from traditional advertising because it’s supposed to elicit some sort of emotional reaction as opposed to merely telling people what your brand is. That assumes, of course, your brand has a meaning. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does your brand’s story reallymean anything?
  • Does your story envelop the reader to become part of the story?
  • Like any good story, does yours have a moral that someone can learn from?
  • And most importantly, are you telling the story that your client wants you to tell, or are you telling the story that you want the client to understand?

Translated into “real people” speak, when agencies say they are great storytellers, they are saying they focus more on the execution of their intelligence and less on the strategy of crafting the story with the right and best insights that the client is reallylooking for.

Storycrafting is much more important than storytelling. It’s time that we shift the conversation and narrative toward what makes our clients tick, so we can elevate our craft.

Why storycrafting?

Before any of us tells a story, we have to think about the type of story we want to tell—or if we want to tell it at all (not a popular decision, but worth considering).

Like any good filmmakers or method actors who immerse themselves in the roles and ideas that shape the stories they tell, storycrafting is shaped by an inspiration or insight that leads one to not just tell the story, but to address the path of the brand from start to finish before a single word is written.

The essence of storycrafting starts with a deep dive into both the operations and marketing strategies of clients, uncovering who the characters of the story truly are and where the story—or stories—lies within the organization. A great storycrafter knows there’s an issue or problem that (inevitably) the story will address. Asking richer and deeper questions about who the characters were before we connected with them, why they entered our creative conversations and measuring what theythink about their story is the starting point.

Most importantly, storycrafting allows us to not just become a voice to tell a story; we become the story by being a part of the script being written. You become stronger than a mere storyteller who resides on the outside of an organization looking in. By working and thinking like your story’s subjects, you gain immense perspective on what your client is thinking, feeling or sensing—not to mention you get a greater competitive advantage by immersing yourself in your client’s operations.

The best part about storycrafting?

The story really never ends because you are focusing on the strategy that solves your client’s problems. Storytellers in our business often have endings to their stories—a campaign, a creative output or a reporter citing your client. With storycrafting, “The End” is merely the beginning of another story for you to shape because you have done the right homework in advance, and proven your mettle by getting to know what really resonates with your client.

The moral of this story? Storytelling is tactical. Storycrafting is strategic. In the end, you need to decide if you want to tell a story or be a part of it.

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Michael Shmarak

Michael Shmarak

Michael Shmarak is President of POETIQ, a Sidney Maxell company.

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