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Setting up your job-story program

Matt Fueston is an Account Manager for Ellenbecker Communications, is responsible for new business development, and contributes as a staff writer. He believes in the intersection between Sales and Marketing.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I was in sales I loved my company’s marketers, because when they did a good job, they made my job easier. Most of my sales career was devoted to opening new territories or channels, and the people I talked to didn’t necessarily know me or my company’s products. The third-party credibility that a job-story or application story in the trade press gave might be the difference in whether I had a chilly reception or a warm one. And while I was perfectly capable of handling the chilly reception, why would I make the job harder than it had to be? Why extend the sales cycle by an extra visit or two when you could hit the ground running?

Do you have a regular program in your company that generates a steady stream of high-quality job stories?

If you don’t, our managing editor for client publications, Sara Schmuck, has a list of suggestions that can jump-start your program.

1. Start with mentioning the whole idea of job stories and why they are a useful marketing tool to the sales and marketing team. Maybe finding a story that was done for a similar company is a good start and will serve as inspiration. This is because the sales team may not be able to picture just what you have in mind without an example. We tend to think in terms of stories; they tend to think in terms of quotas.

2. Internally communicate the desire to actively pursue success stories. Call them job stories, features, success stories, whatever sounds appealing within your company. A mass email to your team or an article in an internal newsletter is a good place to start—or maybe you can pitch it during a big sales meeting, as part of your marketing department presentation.

3. Talk personally to salesmen who know customers and will be able to identify happy customers and those willing to share their testimonial.

4. Follow up with salesmen, asking them to talk to customers and request permission to feature them. Telling them that they will be able to approve whatever is written or photographed usually helps. They are proud to be featured, usually.

The whole idea here is to get the story-funnel full. You generally need a lot possibilities stacked up before you get one that makes it all the way through the process and gets signed off and approved by all stakeholders.

Sara has managed story funnels as large as 80 submitted ideas to come up with two or three that make it to the assignment phase—that is, when a story is assigned to a writer and a photographer. That is an extreme example, but not as extreme as you might think.

In an upcoming blog post, I’ll ask Sara to describe the actual process of taking a story from idea to publishing, and a few suggestions on how to manage and nurture the story ideas that you get.

In the meantime—you’ve got stories. Let’s get ‘em told!