You’ve heard of brand guidelines, and you likely use them as the blueprint which shapes your marketing tone and approach. But what about your strategic narrative? If you don’t have this (and you’re not even sure what it is), you’re definitely not alone: we’ve found that most folks don’t have a strategic narrative in place for their biz. And unfortunately, this could be what’s killing your content marketing strategy.

What’s a strategic narrative and why is it a game-changer for shaping your content and winning over prospects?

While brand guidelines cover things like the “look and feel” of your brand, this isn’t all-too-helpful when it comes to content marketing. Instead, we’ve found that the best (and most compelling) marketing always springs from a strategic narrative.

Strategic narrative turns traditional content marketing on its head. It crafts a story for your brand which clarifies the problem you’re solving, changes assumptions, and shows your audience the new way that you’re resolving their pain points. Ultimately, with strategic narrative, you paint a convincing picture which clearly positions your product or service as a differentiated leader.

Here’s everything you know about creating and deploying a strategic narrative for your brand, and how it can flip the switch for success when it comes to your content marketing strategy.

Brand Guidelines vs. Strategic Narrative

It’s common for organizations to get their wires crossed: they think that their brand guidelines tick the same boxes as strategic narrative, but this isn’t the case. Brand guidelines matter, sure, and they cover things like colors, fonts, margins, and the mood of your brand.

While this is useful, it’s not going to take a sophisticated content marketing strategy very far.

On the other hand, your strategic narrative is the story which underlines who your company is, what it’s about, and where it’s going. Instead of just a mission statement, listed product features, or airy buzzwords, your strategic narrative is more like the heart and soul of your brand.

Humans are hardwired for stories, and storytelling in marketing can be transformative for content. There’s tons of research floating around that’s often cited, which shows how our brains love good storytelling. When it comes to marketing, data shows that brand stories influence purchasing decisions, and that customers even want ads to feel like a story.

But storytelling alone also isn’t enough.

“Unstrategic storytelling is okay, but it can be aimless at times,” said RevenueZen founder Alex Boyd. Instead, he says that strategic narrative covers “your reason to exist, your reason to be different, [and] the inarguable story about why your new way is better than the old way.”

Alex Boyd, Founder

It’s also important to point out that strategic narrative isn’t a content strategy in itself, but it’s the bones that you can use as the framework to support your content strategy.

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The Elements of Strategic Narrative

Strategic narrative is more than just a story, and it operates as the bedrock for your entire branding strategy. But what does it consist of, exactly?

Here are the hallmark elements your narrative strategy should cover:

1. Clarify the problem

First and foremost, your strategic narrative needs to dive into what’s wrong or broken in your industry. It should cover what the current status quo is, and what your brand thinks needs to change.

2. Change the assumptions

Next, strategic narrative should touch on common customer misconceptions. What are popular beliefs which you can prove wrong? What are perspective shifts that need to happen? Ultimately, you should discuss what expert insights you’re bringing to the industry.

3. Show the new way

This is your time to shine: what is your organization’s different way of doing things? What’s your new take on the old status quo? You can also share your one-of-a-kind view on the job that needs to be done.

4. The solution and the why

Here, you drive the point home. In light of everything you outlined above, why did you build the product that you did? Demonstrate how the product is architected based on the new way. Showcase why your product was created differently from the competition.

Something may have stood out to you here about strategic narrative: the product itself comes last. Sure, it’s critical to talk about your solution, what it does, and all of its bells and whistles. But rambling on about features and specs isn’t going to take you very far. With strategic narrative, by the time you get to the features, you’ve already positioned your brand as the winning answer.

Why Strategic Narrative Drives Revenue

Can strategic narrative really lead to a stuffed inbound pipeline? Yep. Here’s why strategic narrative can make all the difference for your organization:

1. It fosters consistency and clarity

Your strategic narrative becomes the foundation for the way your brand moves through the world. It brings clarity and consistency to advertising, messaging, social media, sales training, CEO LinkedIn ghostwriting, and just about anything else you can think of (including your organizational culture).

Instead of fragmented or disjointed brand elements and messaging, you’ll have a consistent, cohesive story which drives behaviors and draws in customers.

2. It humanizes your brand

Humans (aka your buyers) want human connection. And while facts and figures can tell folks about what your org does, stories are going to be what sells. By weaving compelling stories into your brand, you’ll develop relationships with your prospects and be memorable.

Think about it: reading a list of product features is yawn-worthy. But when your customer understands the passion, expertise, and reason behind your brand, they’re far more likely to be along for the ride.

3. It differentiates you in the market

In a sea of competition, strategic narrative is like a lifeline, helping you stand out. A strong strategic narrative is your chance to showcase your brand’s values, mission, personality, and unique proposition in a way that resonates with your target audience.

“Any time a brand comes to us, hoping to claim more market share, the first order of business is to help them understand what makes them different – not better – than the competition,” said Hali Boyd, RZ Head of Content. “Guiding companies in positioning themselves as separate from the status quo by crafting a unique strategic narrative allows them to stand out in crowded spaces and become the preferred choice with consumers. From there, the sky’s the limit… but it all starts with the story.”

Hali Boyd, Head of Content

Tips for Developing Your All-Star Strategic Narrative

Interested in developing and deploying your own strategic narrative? Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Start with the status quo (and how you disrupt it)

When you’re hashing out your strategic narrative from the ground up, a great exercise is to start by working through the status quo, and why it’s broken. What is the current status quo in the industry, what are most brands in your space doing? Then, move onto the disruptions: what is the “new way” that you’re bringing to the table?

2. Come up with 3-4 pillars

During the brainstorming phase, you and your team will likely come up with a lot of ideas. Your goal should be to end up with 3-4 fundamental pillars for your brand. Find ways to connect all of the different takes and angles, and define the commonalities that run through them which make the most sense.

3. Think ahead to the future

Remember that your strategic narrative needs to withstand different iterations of your company, and you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself. Let’s say, right now, you’re a small, boutique firm. It might be tempting to position large firms as inadequate or faulty. But keep in mind this might put you in hot water when you try to scale, because ideally, you’ll eventually become “the big guy.”

Strategic narrative might be a shift: for many brands, it’s a new way of looking at why they exist and how they’re different. But by taking the time to dive in and craft your powerhouse corporate narrative, you’ll have a guiding framework which doesn’t just shape how your brand moves through the world, but also best speaks to customers where they are.

Stuck on Strategic Narrative? We’ll Take It From Here

Strategic narrative might sound simple, but as you can see, it’s far more than just developing a nice story for your brand. And strategic narrative might be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, because it can have a massive impact on your pipeline and bottom line.

Total transparency: here’s the process for our workshops.

Pre Research:

  • We get deep into your brand in advance, review your customer research, the market you’re in, what’s being said

Workshop With The CEO:

  • We host a 90-minute workshop with your CEO, guiding them through a structured process
  • We uncover what it is that you’re changing about the industry you’re in, and why people should care
  • We distill the Challenge you are making to the status quo, and how you are answering that challenge with a New Way

Narrative Writeup:

  • We document this into a comprehensive, well-written story that takes the reader through where your market has been, where it’s going, and what your New Way is
  • We also restate all of this in plain english, boiled-down terms, in addition to a more ‘illustrative’ storylike version
  • This serves as the alignment document for your GTM story, even as a north star for your overall company and product direction
  • The narrative is internal-facing, but is infused into all external-facing content to make it dramatically more compelling

Social Media Structure Writeup:

  • We translate the strategic narrative and the workshop transcript into 30-60 LinkedIn post concepts, all of which are on-narrative
  • These concepts can be repurposed into 2-4 post formats, each, yielding 100-200 total posts that can be repurposed
  • This lays the groundwork for an “infinite narrative-driven content system” so that you’re always on message, and never run out of ideas

If you want to masterfully develop your organization’s strategic narrative, then we should talk. We’re RevenueZen, and we help ambitious B2B brands break their own records for organic-sourced revenue. We’re not only one of the best B2B SaaS SEO agencies, but we’ve also written the book on strategic narrative, and offer workshops for brands just like yours.

Book a call today to get started.

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