6 Steps to Craft a Story That Will Move Your Market

How can you tell a story that will move your market?

Decision makers. Influencers. Approvers. What story can you tell that will unite them in purpose and transform institutional inertia into action.

How can you tell a story that will resonate in a way that is authentic and meaningful. That strikes nerves, avoids platitudes and familiar promises, and hits home in a way that has sincere resonance.

A story that has mileage – and thrives over the long-term. Across channels, across audiences and across mediums. Catalyzing change and positioning your company as a Market of One.

Here is the step six process that I use to find answers to these questions. Done correctly, this process will help you unlock you markets greatest pains, and discover how your organization is uniquely positioned to be the salve. 

Here’s a brief overview of the 6 steps I follow to create assets that survive and thrive over the long-term. But remember, the steps are the foundation - navigating them thoroughly and with care are what will lead you to your impactful story. 

The Market of One Content Creation Process

One | Insight
Taking the time to intimately understand the market is one of the key steps that will separate your story from competitors. During this phase, consume all the information you can find to inform your messaging – especially resources which will give you a unique perspective from within your organization – such as research, internal experts, etc. The key is to find insights which are not readily available in the market which you can harness to inform your positioning as well as conten.

Two | Story
Finding the right story is  the difference between an asset that gathers dust, and an asset that inspires changes. An asset that survives and thrives across mediums and over the long term, rather than silently entering the market and being ignored.

During this stage, review your markets key pain points as well as your company’s Singular Resonance and Lynchpins. Marrying these with your markets pains, and telling the story in a way that feels personally resonate, will set you apart.

Three | Strategy
Today’s buyer is an omnichannel buyer. They drift between screens throughout their day. Knowing this, you must craft a story that is engaging and accessible across mediums. During this stage explore potential options for unique and engaging ways to tell your story in an onmichannel world. How can your story be ubiquitous?

Four | Architecture
Laying a strong foundation will ensure you build an asset that is powerful, authentic and congruent with everyones vision. During this stage build an outline of your asset and its key points, taking care to organize your content in a way that is easy to understand at a glance, yet feels comprehensive and true in a way which is indisputable.

Five | Creation
Only now do you get started creating your asset. Crafting the words and images. Skipping the first steps is why most content looks and feels the same – and most stagnates – attracting few leads or making any real impact.

Six | Distillation
Content is most powerful when it prioritizes substance over length. Yet because of the rush to simply “get something out the door” we often forget to spend the time to hone our messages down to their essence. During this stage, work to distill your story down to ensure it includes only the critical. This needn’t take weeks or months – often simply putting the content away for a day or two and coming back to it again will be the difference between creating something impactful – and something forgettable.

If you need a little help finding your story - you can always get in touch here

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Rick Rubin's Marketing Advice

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Rick Rubin is one of the music world’s most legendary and prolific music producers. Across genres, and for more than 20 years, he has consistently produced the most influential, and highest selling records in the world.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, System of a Down, Sheryl Crow, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Slipknot, The Dixie Chicks, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Black Sabbath, Eminem, Neil Diamond, Adele – Rubin has worked with and helped to magnify the reach of all these artists, and this is only the tip of the spear.  

The reasons his music succeeds (and continually tops charts) where so many others fail is because he recognizes that great music is not about emulation or homogenization – it’s about connection.  

Connection internally for the artist – tapping into what is real, authentic and unique about them.

And connection externally to fans – not all fans – but the select few with whom the music truly resonates. He believes it’s about going to the edges, rather than the middle, where real connection exists. This is how you gain true resonance.

As he puts it, “The best art divides the audience. Half should love it and half should hate it.”

As this is true in art, it is also true in marketing. Great marketing should also divide your audience. No company, or message, can be meant for everyone.

This is true for the most widely consumed brands – and even more so for the start-ups and mid-markets. The brute force of paid media is no longer the silver bullet – it’s authentic connection that creates real leverage.

This holds true in B2B marketing as much – or even more so – than in the consumer world. Because as everyone tries to cram in every possible benefit: Reduce costs, improve efficiency, maximize performance. Or appeal to every possible aspiration. You will be focused on the one most important thing you do.

As a result, you’ll be remembered while the rest fade into the background. 

Unlocking Your Most Powerful (and Often Overlooked) Differentiator

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More than your software, or technology, or process, or IP – what brings customers to your company, and ultimately keeps them there are your people.

Because nearly all great technologies, or services – especially in the B2B context - are only as good as there implementation, execution and ongoing evolution. And all of those things happen principally because of your people.  

And here’s the other thing. In the B2B world - where so much of what's sold is “me too” - it’s not your product that’s unique. But instead the people, and their unique personalities and insights, that are irreplaceable.

The key takeaway: If you’re trying to build marketing infrastructure that will survive and thrive over the long-term, help your key people build and maintain a platform where they can aggregate attention, and build relationships

Here’s why.

The truth is that few marketing campaigns have fans. Their success is transient and limited. People on the other hand do have fans. And beyond fans – they have relationships.

This desire to connect is hardwired within us all – some scientists even declaring that the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our needs for food, water and shelter.

And this desire to connect, especially with those we see as more expert, or capable of helping us advance ourselves and our station in life, is among the strongest draws of all (What burgeoning filmmaker wouldn’t follow Stephen Spielberg’s every word if he published a daily blog?).

Yet as marketers, we often overlook our internal experts as marketing opportunities – instead turning to junior resources to be our voice and the internet to be our source of insights. The result is that we deliver the same tired information and boring product pitches – and are then perceived as a commodity.

But in reality – it’s your key people, beyond all else, that truly make you a Market of OneBeyond that - it’s also what people want.

Consider this – this study by ITSMA found is that beyond analysts, beyond peers and colleagues, beyond any consultant or marketing collateral – what people find most trustworthy and credible in their purchasing experiences are the provider’s subject matter experts.

Allowing their insights to shine through is what will separate you - and build the trust you need to win over the long term.

6 Steps to Build Your Platform
To get started building your platform, here are the steps. 

  • Pick your smartest internal people – the top consultants or product people or engineers – or whoever can provide the best value to your market
  •  Build a publication
  • Give it an unique, benefit driven name
  • Tap their internal expertise (make videos, have them write blogs, interview them and write on their behalf, hire freelancers to do this, whatever you need to consistently deliver)
  • Drive subscriptions to this publication with offers 
  • Create pathways, which people will naturally walk down within the publication, to learn more about your product or service
  • Optimize those pathways overtime

It’s win-win. You build a sustainable, profitable marketing channel - one where you needn't constantly recreate the wheel. 

Your experts love you because their value increases, they enjoy notoriety, and are then less likely to leave.

And over time, you become a company without equal and without comparison. Truly a Market of One.

Why Marketing Is All About the Clouds and the Dirt

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Recently I watched this excellent video by Gary Vaynerchuk.

In it he explains that he spends all his time in two places - the clouds and the dirt.

The clouds meaning the vision. The high level. The strategy.

The dirt meaning the execution – the how the vision comes to life.

He wastes no time in between. For us as marketers, or anyone trying to form relationships and aggregate attention, this is where we need to be as well.

Because there’s essentially two things that your market wants to know from you:

  • The Clouds. What’s the big picture. The high level strategy. The next thing. What’s your take on this.
  • The Dirt. What is the best way to make the vision real. The template. The plan. The hacks. The tweaks. The dirt – the medium in which the strategy can take root.

This works at every level – whether you sell high dollar software or macaroni and cheese.

Be your markets source for these two things – learn how to put your unique spin on them – and you’ll no longer need to chase. Your market will come to you. 

Do You Know The 2 Most Valuable Assets in Marketing Today?

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It’s not brand equity, or your logo, or any high performance piece of content that matters most.

The two most valuable assets in marketing are attention and trust. Without those two things, you’ll have a hard time accomplishing anything.

It’s why cold emails rarely work. Because even if you do manage to get some quick boost in page views or whatever, it will be short lived and unsustainable. And will likely fail to produce any actual sales in the end (this is why inbound leads always outperform outbound).

In all likelihood, you’ll just waste time and money and drift back into the ether.

In marketing as in life, you cannot buy trust. You cannot force people to agree with you or adopt your priorities. Attention and trust must be earned.

Think of it like someone standing on a corner with a megaphone yelling about religion, or politics, or whatever it is. The louder they yell, the more you tune them out (or run the other way).

This is what we’re doing when we spam, or relentlessly “check in” or write B.S. blogs or whitepapers that are really just masked brochures. We’re standing on our proverbial corner with a megaphone, yelling for people to listen. In fact, we have the opposite effect.

So what’s the solution? Focus on creating a place where you consistently and reliably provide value. Real value. Not half assed, veiled sales pitches.

Better still, find a way to do this in a way no one else can (no matter what you sell, you can do this, the trick is just to figure out how). Then, just let the right people know about it. The rest of the “sales process” then begins to take care of itself.

It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. 

48 Searches

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Consider this: On average, we conduct 48 unique searches before we buy an airplane ticket.


This, straight from a lead researcher of one of the largest marketing research firms in the world. Amazing right?

Anyhow, as soon as he said this, I started wondering... Why?

When you think about it, it’s all about uncertainty. For most, it’s one key question. “Am I getting the best price?”

Now, think back to whatever you sell.

If it’s a considered purchase of any size or substance, it’s far more than price that your buyers are weighing. Its internal reputation, integration, resistance to change (one of the most powerful forces), and on and on.

More than anything else, people are trying to decide how the purchase will impact their professional status. It’s their reputation at stake.

So if it takes us 48 searches to feel satisfied that we’re getting the best deal on a flight – how long do you think it takes your prospects to overcome concerns about their professional reputation?

While I don’t have a precise answer, I can say definitively: It’s much longer than we all think.

Certainly much longer than a 5-step email nurture program, or a 30-minute Webinar, or a single sales call.  

This is why it’s so important that your marketing strategies are focused first and foremost on providing long-term value, based on a clear and unifying theme. Because that’s what it takes to win trust. To become remembered by key people as the only organization that is right for them.

And this trust is what it takes to turn 48 searches into 35 or 15.

In truth, this focus on the long-term will be the fastest short cut that you ever take.

The Biggest Mistake Made in Marketing Today

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A Quick Though Experiment

So if you're up for it, let's take a couple seconds a do a little thought experiment.

Take just a second and think back to the last ad you saw today. Not the last memorable ad – the absolute last one that was put in front of you. Email, billboard, TV, whatever.

Quick, what was it?

If you’re like me, you have absolutely no idea. Like 90% of ads, it wasn't for you - it was for them (an important distinction). So you never paid attention.

Here’s another question. What’s your biggest point of stress at work?

I bet that took you all of two seconds to think up. I bet you even feel a little spike of stress now that I've brought it up (sorry about that).

The conclusion is clear. And yes, this is an obvious conclusion, but it's one we all too frequently overlook.

People don’t care about what you want to tell them, they care about what they’re trying to achieve and the pains they're trying to resolve.

Which brings us too...

The Biggest Mistake Made In Marketing Today

The biggest mistake made in marketing today is that we focus on what we want people to do, not how we can help them achieve what they want.

How many campaign planning sessions begin with questions like: “What is it we want people to know about us? What are our strengths? How can we stand out? How can we drive the results we want today?"

But these are the wrong questions.

Better questions might be, "What are our prospects biggest problems today? How can we help in a way no one else can?"

This simple shift in focus means we're now working to help, rather than persuade, and this small change in intention makes all the difference.

It's the trouble with prioritizing short term gains (which rarely come from self-centered marketing) with long term relationships. In marketing as in life, the biggest gains come by playing the long game.

Question: Do you believe great marketing comes from providing value, or is it actually just about persuasion?

The Fallacy of Marketing Optimization

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Here are some of the questions I'm asked frequently:

  • What are the best times and days to send emails?
  • What are the best days and times to publish blogs? To host a webinar?
  • How can we persuade people put in the right email address? (Instead of mickey@mouse.com)
  • How can we optimize our website to get more traffic?
  • What’s the optimal number of emails to send each month to avoid list fatigue.

We’re all looking for tricks and tips to make people pay attention. To make them care.

But here’s the simple truth.

Rather than worry about the incremental lift you’ll get from hosting a webinar at a certain day or time. Or plugging in keywords in some certain density. There’s one optimization strategy that trumps all others.

Focus on creating remarkable things that deliver massive value.

Do this, and all the rest of the questions become far less important. They almost become irrelevant.

Because while you’re your competitors focus on the trivial many –  the optimization of tactics –  you’ll be focused on the critical few  –  the aggregating of attention, building of trust, and development of relationships. That’s where the real lift lies.

But here’s the thing. You can’t just half ass this. You can’t pretend your way to remarkable. You have to put the real time and effort into delivering the value.

Put in the work. Be valuable. Do this continuously. Overtime, you'll earn attention and then trust. The rest will take care of itself.

Are you Asking the Wrong Questions?

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How can we tell people about our new features? About our new storylines? Why we’re better/faster/cheaper than our competitors? How can we show results today?

None of these questions (all of which are asked daily in marketing departments) are about why the people you’re trying to reach might care. And it’s one of the main reasons marketing fails.

A better question to ask is, where is our Tribe struggling today and how can we help in a way no one else can?  

Deliver value this way, and the right people will come to you, ready to buy. No persuasion or bargaining needed.