Good marketing involves good story telling. This is true whether you are marketing yourself as a candidate for a new job, marketing your company to a prospective hire or marketing yourself as a professional looking to generate new business.
Telling a “good” story is not always easy for analytical professionals. Lawyers, for example, are accustomed to “documenting” and being “thorough”. But good storytelling is not about being thorough. If you want to craft a good story, one that will make your point and one that will be memorable, it is important to be selective. Give the details which make your point. Avoid the facts which dilute or potentially contradict the message. It’s okay to be selective as long as you don’t distort the truth.
Winning politicians understand the importance of sharing anecdotes on the campaign trail. Complex policy argument don’t win elections (take a look at what happened a few weeks ago).
If, for example, you are a lawyer looking to generate more corporate work for software companies or looking to move in-house, talk about the deals you have done for the industry. When you are out networking, tell a story about the licensing deal you just completed for High Tech Company X. Even if most of your work has been in other industries, that does not have to be part of the story. Even if over half of your work involves litigation and not contracts work, focus on the contracts work.
I work a lot with professionals who are interested in making a career shift. A big mistake that I often see is that lawyers feel compelled to use their resumes to “document” what they have done. The other day, I met with an accomplished litigation associate who wants to transition into a counseling role as an in-house employment lawyer. She had experience in employment law; but it was buried in the resume. The “story” her resume told is that she has a lot of hands on commercial litigation experience.
I’ve reinvented myself a number of times during my career. But when I am out marketing, I try to emphasize those experiences which illustrate what I am trying to “sell” at the moment. For example, I just completed an interesting search for licensing counsel for a major pharmaceutical company. I plan to do more with this industry so when people ask me what I do, I don’t spend much time talking about the marketing coaching that I have done. I don’t highlight searches I’ve worked on with law firms (even though I have a lot of experience working on those kinds of searches). Instead, I talk about why I enjoy working with life sciences companies and the challenges of my recent search.
Similarly, when I’m trying to “sell” a potential opportunity to a lawyer or some other professional, I try to craft a story which explains why the candidate should consider this career move. I use the stories my clients provides to explain why that company is a great place to work and why the future looks bright from where they sit. And when I am doing my job correctly, I don’t spend a lot of time talking about things that are not relevant to the prospect (e.g. a real estate lawyer is not going to care that a firm has a great patent department that just won a big victory in an infringement suit.)
So what’s your story? Do you need help fine tuning your message? Contact me if you want help. I always enjoy hearing from my readers and I promise it won’t cost you anything!