What’s your story?

It’s shocking how many organizations struggle to answer that question.

Sure, they may be making money today and appear to be doing well, but their success has limits. They might understand where they’ve come from, but they aren’t sure how they got where they are and they sure don’t know where they’re going. The limiting factor is that they don’t have a compelling story. When a company has a story, it gives it purpose. As wildly successful venture capitalist Ben Horowitz wrote in his book The Hard Thing About the Hard Things (great book; read it), the company story is the company strategy for successful organizations.

This is why the CMO position is growing in influence. The CMO, along with the CEO, is the keeper of the story. It’s the CMO’s job to ensure that the content the organization creates always ties back to the company story. Whether it’s a blog or a content hub or a whitepaper series, the content should be a manifestation of the company’s story.

“Strategy” is defined as a plan of action designed to achieve a major goal. A “story” is a report of connected events that lead to a conclusion. Look at it this way – the story is the strategy brought to life. It demonstrates how the strategy can connect to the context in which you’re operating. A story is the strategy, activated.

It’s shocking how many companies can’t give you a compelling reason for their existence (making a lot of money is not your why; it’s doubtful that many customers would be inspired by your need to fill your pockets). These companies spend countless hours focusing on specific objectives, financial goals and ways to increase performance. Too often, this work is done on a spreadsheet. Of course, this work needs to be done, but it should never come first. How can you determine your objectives before you know your purpose? Your purpose is your story.

It starts with why these things matter. When you answer why, you provide purpose to everyone that touches the organization – employees, partners, customers – everyone. Why is the essence of your story.

At Scribewise, we exist to create “trust through storytelling.” Our mission is to strengthen the connection between our clients and their customers, most notably with a content-first approach to marketing. We believe in this so deeply that we’ve willingly and gladly put ourselves through a tumultuous, perilous summer to remove an impediment to fulfilling this mission. (Of course, we’re the ones who put the impediment there in the first place but, hey, we’re learning.) It wasn’t easy, but it’s the core of our strategy, and so it was obvious that we had to travel this path.

Successful organizations have compelling stories that people unite behind and decide to invest in. A story revolves around the main characters. It tells the story of where you’ve been and where you’re going. It provides a path to get through the difficult times. It’s a GPS that you can refer to when you’re not sure which direction you should head in, or when you feel as if you’re lost.

Stories inspire. They pull people in. When we hear or read stories, we want the characters to succeed. And the company’s that know and live their story are the ones that actually do succeed.