School Heads and CEOs of listed corporations alike must be able to articulate their brand story. One of the primary ways we make sense of our world, and our place in it, is through stories. The same is true of brands. Brand stories give meaning to who we are and what we do.
Far from being a window dressing, they are key business drivers. Ultimately, it is your brand story that helps you to articulate your point of difference – the ‘why’ behind a prospective parent’s critical decision to choose your school over another.
Developing key messaging that articulates your school’s brand story will help to correctly and consistently position your school in the marketplace. Key messages help employees and advocates for your school to ‘speak with one voice’, both internally and externally.
A Key Message Guide is a valuable tool for harnessing the power of your communications. Most schools are familiar with the use of a Style Guide – a manual showing exactly how and when to use the school’s visual assets such as logos, corporate typefaces and colours. A Key Message Guide can be thought of in a similar way, except it’s the reference point for your messages – the ideas, stories and values that constitute your brand.
Words and images have been the go-to ‘gadgets’ in every marketer’s toolkit since marketing was invented. Nothing much has changed from this perspective. But with advances in digital marketing, it has become more difficult than ever to break through the noise. Brands need stories that are well crafted and memorable.
Here are our five tips for targeting an emotional response through your messaging:
1. Relate to your readers
Before you can relate to your readers, you need to understand them. The easiest way to do this is by creating buyer personas that represent the people you would typically find in your target audience.
You can do this by collecting information from:
- prospective parent feedback
- buyer interviews
- your audience on social media
- your analytics to see who is visiting your site and how long they are staying.
Buyer personas will help you understand what motivates your prospective parents. This valuable information will empower you to relate to them within those first eight crucial words.
2. Paint a picture
Your content should include words and visual elements. Together, they should paint a clear picture in your reader’s mind. Your word choice will call to mind specific experiences for your readers. These experiences are associated with emotions. If you use concrete terms and relatable vocabulary, then you will create images which then connect to experiences in your reader’s memory.
You don’t want to confuse or overwhelm your readers with mixed messages. Always ensure that your written and visual content send a single and concise message.
3. Become a storyteller
Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools that you have as a blogger. Stories are designed to capture a reader’s emotion. They can motivate someone to take action, or simply hold their attention for a prolonged period of time. Stories allow us to instantly relate to a situation or person and stimulate our brains in ways that boring old writing could never do. When telling a story, you want it to resonate with your readers. You can tell a true story, or you can come up with a scenario that incorporates your product, service, or brand into a story that you create.
A strong story should capture the reader’s attention, and then make them share the emotions of the characters in it. As Paul J Zak put it in his article in the Harvard Business Review:
“When you want to motivate, persuade, or be remembered, start with a story of human struggle and eventual triumph. It will capture people’s hearts – by first attracting their brains.”
4. Provide value
Once you have captured your readers and their emotions, provide them with a gift in the form of your content, it doesn’t have to exclusively involve money. If they came to learn something, then teach them, and give them that information. If they wanted a question answered, then provide a satisfying answer immediately.
5. Create a memorable experience
An extremely powerful way to capture readers’ emotions is through the use of experiential marketing. It creates a bond between the prospective parent and the school by providing them with memorable experiences.
Many big name companies like Coca Cola and Nike have held large live events that allow people to experience the brand both in person and online.
Here are some ways to create an experience:
- offer trials or free samples of your product/service
- host a live webinar
- engage your readers on social media.