In the special event business, perhaps more so than any other industry, we are sought after for our ability to sell the story. And this comes from being able to tell the story. Never before has the power of story-telling been more pertinent in branding and marketing than now and to our industry. Your strategic narrative (or lack thereof) can make or break you.
The fact is, knowing and defining what your story is and then translating that to your business is essential to thrive. Your strategic narrative—that is, your story--must inspire employees, draw customers, excite event partners and engage influencers, and that story must be brief, understandable and pertinent. It also must allow room for growth and clearly convey the company's culture.
While many branding companies, PR firms and ad agencies will come up with creative marketing campaigns with communication plans that are helpful, they are not getting to the base foundation of the strategic narrative so essential before you can even take on any creative marketing campaign.
A "strategic narrative" is a special kind of story. It says who you are as a company, including a look at your past, present and future. Most importantly, it looks at your values and what you value most in a relationship. This is what makes you unique.
And here's a hint: this strategic narrative doesn't come out of the usual customer reviews, interviews and whiteboard sessions. It takes a whole new think and approach from the leadership team.
Basically, people want to know your business as they would another person. Creating your strategic narrative includes the following top steps:
1. Developing human context
2. Creating a shared purpose
3. Following through on the brand DNA established at the beginning of the business
The human element is always first and then dovetails into the shared purpose.
Each of these steps involves a detailed masterful approach--often with a professional experienced to guide you through the steps necessary.
The end result of following through on the brand DNA includes the actual action plan to make sure that DNA is infused into every single policy, action and execution in the marketing and day-to-day implementation of the strategic narrative.
Kerry Lee Doehr is CEO/founder and CEO of event planning business Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events, as well as Engaging Inspiration, a business dedicated to marketing, events and training for the special event and hospitality professional. She is committed to progress in the industry that goes beyond trend and design, saying, "Who we are and how we handle ourselves ethically is more of a barometer to business longevity and branding than all the money in the world spent on advertising."