We’ve all heard it. It’s the refrain from passionate board members, senior administrators and others in the university community that oversimplifies and undervalues our role as marketers.
“We just need to tell our story better.”
More often than not, that comment can be safely interpreted as, “I think we should be on the front page of the NY Times, and the lead story on all national news. And since we’re not, it’s a marketing failure. If they’d just tell our story better, we’d absolutely be on the front page.” Yeah. Not so much.
But here’s the thing. We do need to tell our stories better, because stories matter. A lot. The work we do in Higher Education and the people who do it are absolutely amazing and worth the (digital) ink. Maybe not always to big media publishers, but these stories still matter to our brand. A lot.
Just recently the “Hit The Ground Running” section of FastCompany.com published an article on why we crave stories in our marketing. There’s a cool infographic with it too. So there’s science behind our need to tell and to experience stories, and as marketers, we need to recognize this and tell great stories.
It’s not always easy though. We’re often buried under reporting our rankings, statistics, yield rates, alumni donor percentages, event logistics and grant dollar amounts—the straight facts. We look for those data points that set us apart from the competition, and we let the numbers speak for themselves.
But numbers rarely tell the most compelling, memorable, interesting and influential stories. It’s the people, the place and the work that make those numbers. That’s where you’ll find the stories. That’s where you’ll find the soul of your brand.
More important than landing a story on the front page of whatever big media channel, is telling a story that your audience cares about. Tell a story that gives your brand depth of character and value beyond the facts. Tell a story people will remember.
This week on Marketing Live, we’re talking to two content professionals (Georgy Cohen and Dave Pond), both of whom have done exceptional work in higher education, about storytelling. We’ll talk about finding and creating great stories, and ways that story-driven content plays a critical role in Higher Ed marketing efforts.