In 2017, clients of B2B high-tech PR agency Catapult PR that defined a clear industry narrative found employees, partners and investors gained a shared confidence, along with a common purpose to drive all strategies and functions toward a singular goal that rides above “what” a business offers to the market.
Catapult recently shared insights from its work helping clients create category-focused industry narratives, which the firm calls its Strategic Narrative Marketing framework. The main takeaway from 2017 is how the benefits of a strategic narrative extend beyond brand marketing to organizational alignment.
“The Strategic Narrative Marketing framework profoundly changes the thinking and culture of a company, as it finds its voice and narrative to lead its industry category,” said Guy Murrel, principal at Catapult, in a news release. “Defining a new or existing category instantly positions a company, no matter its size, as a true industry leader committed to advancing its industry. Every company, from startup to Fortune 500, wants to be the dominant category leader, and this approach provides a huge step in accomplishing that goal.”
Catapult developed Strategic Narrative Marketing based on more than 30 years’ experience helping technology companies build market-leading positions through public relations strategies and programs. A good example is Rally Software, a Boulder-based startup it helped position as the leader in Agile software development. By focusing on promoting the category, Rally achieved clear market leader status that led to an IPO and subsequent acquisition by CA Technologies (for $500 million). This engagement, among many others, led Catapult to develop formal processes companies can use to define and own a market category as a business strategy.
The following are insights from helping companies large and small develop an industry-defining strategic narrative:
Market focus—developing and launching an industry narrative helps tech firms sharply focus on an industry beachhead to lead. For many organizations, especially startups, this focus helps clarify what market segment to attack and how to address industry dynamics and disruption.
Company alignment—having an industry-defining narrative provides a clear roadmap all stakeholders can support and follow. With an eye on advancing and leading the industry category all business functions naturally align—from marketing and product development to sales and recruitment
Elevated story—companies that have an industry story talk less about “what” they do and more about the “why” they are in business. An industry narrative elevates the company story toward industry mega-trends, corporate vision and its aspirations to lead, not follow. The Strategic Narrative Marketing approach represents a dramatic shift from traditional positioning and messaging that is inward and often too focused on features and capabilities.
Unique voice—standing out and being differentiated from competitors is very challenging as clients struggle with the “everyone sounds the same” dilemma. Defining a new category narrative creates a 100-percent unique story that industry influencers want to hear, and others can only follow.
Defined purpose—many technology companies struggle with the question “what do we stand for?” Terms like “innovation,” “quality” and “value” are commonplace and overused. As a company works through the Strategic Narrative Marketing process, it uncovers new opportunities for leadership that ride above the obvious and aims higher than ever thought possible.
“During the past year, we have seen Strategic Narrative Marketing evolve and provide greater strategic value than we originally thought,” said Terri Douglas, principal at Catapult, in the release. “While we start from a PR and marketing perspective, we continue to see more strategic value gained from the category building and narrative approach. It’s not something most companies focus on—but when they do it is very powerful to see the organizational transformation.”
Catapult offers a one-day Strategic Narrative Workshop and Strategic Narrative Development services, as well as launch and ongoing PR/social and content marketing services to promote new categories for a growing roster of clients. It also offers a book, A Practical Guide to Strategic Narrative Marketing, and a free Narrative Assessment.