Your story is what makes you stand apart as an organization.

I’m not necessarily talking about your corporate culture, although that can play a part. Let’s go beyond the typical marketing clichés and get down to what keeps your clients coming back.

At Wood Street, we have a process. We’ve been fine-tuning this process relentlessly over the last 12 years. We believe so strongly in our process, that we feature it on our homepage…

Wood-Street-Process

This isn’t promotional. This is our story. When clients ask me to describe what makes us different or better, I always start with “our process.”

Our story is about how our process helps our clients to better achieve their goals.

This is far from being a sales pitch. This is the serious matter of being authentic. And the client will pick up on this.

But does your authenticity come through in all of your marketing efforts?

Branding

Branding is not just your logo and collateral materials. I like this quote we used in an earlier post on branding

Jon Wuebben, in his book Content is Currency, defines brand building as:

“The notion of establishing a familiar presence, having a standard way of doing things, and establishing a level of confidence in the minds of your customers.”

Your branding should tie into your story. From the colors you use, to the fonts, the graphics, and even with the voice of your content.

You are building consistency and trust almost on a subconscious level. Repetition tied to perceived value is how branding establishes a “familiar presence.”

Think about your favorite brand. What about them makes them your favorite? And do you think of these things when exposed to their marketing? Or is it just a feeling?

UX or User Experience

UX is often misunderstood as having only to do with the mechanics of a website or app interface. UX is actually tied more to things like trust, comfort, success.

UX guides the user along the way helping them to achieve their goals as those goals are aligned with yours.

I use a quote from my friend Joe Natoli of GiveGoodUX.com in any presentation I give on UX because he really nails it …

“UX isn’t just about users; it’s really a value loop in three parts:

  1. The person using the website has to perceive that it’s valuable to them.
  2. That perception has to be validated through use. Proof equals trust, which means they use and/or purchase.
  3. When both things happen, value comes back to the business/creator: increased market share, customer loyalty, money made or money saved.”

In other words, good UX means good ROI and happy clients.

Content Marketing

This is marketing using content to win the trust, and ultimately, the business of your target audience. Content marketing is NOT simply using words to drive traffic.

I love this line from Gini Dietrich’s book Spin Sucks

“The only way to build trust and slowly chip away at the bad feelings the general public has about organizations is to develop relationships and provide valuable educational information.”

One of our more recent clients is a great example of this. They’re a consulting firm located in the Washington, DC area. Just let that settle for a bit. Feel a little icky now? No? Turn on CSPAN for a few minutes and them get back to me.

They could easily just fall in with the rest of their ilk and provide the type of consulting expected around the beltway.

But this consulting firm has chosen to make everything they do about integrity – a word rarely if ever associated to what they do.

And it isn’t just a word to them; it’s their story. They even have a playing card with their values printed on it. Whenever there is a conflict with a client or even internally, they reference the card to ensure they are sticking to their core values and beliefs.

For us, this is a dream client. The story is there and it’s a great story. As we refine their brand, build their web presence and help them to craft their content marketing strategy we have clear direction every step of the way.

I have one of their cards on my desk and I’ve been using it to build out all planning materials. I’m not sure that every company needs to have a card with their values printed on it. But, it couldn’t hurt.

We often get too focused on the bottom line. Yes, we need to make money and pay our bills. But, why not focus on being authentic? Provide solutions for both clients and referrers of clients and you’ll win the business AND build a lasting and solid reputation.

This is what having a good story is all about.

This post was the fourth in the Spin Sucks Scavenger Hunt. Check out the first 3 posts by Corina ManeaMartin Waxman, and Shelley Pringle.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.