Today’s marketers are a sophisticated lot. At the enterprise level, they get paid beaucoup bucks and carry fancy titles like “Story Architect.” The story they’re referring to has been distilled down by scholars of myth like Joseph Campbell and screenwriting gurus like Robert McKee into some basic storytelling components. Here’s the formula:

  1. There’s a hero
  2. Who has a problem
  3. And meets a guide who gives the hero a plan
  4. Forcing the hero to take decisive action
  5. Resulting in a positive or negative outcome

Most college graduates will at least be vaguely familiar with this formula, calling to mind lengthy lectures on modern myths like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the Matrix, which follow the hero’s journey outline very closely.

What does this have to do with marketing? Marketers need to frame a story with which their potential clients can identify, catch the vision, and buy in. Using the above formula, the client is the hero, and your business is the guide. “Sounds great!” you say. “Let’s fire up the word processor, crank out some copy and get some conversions!”

Not so fast.

The key ingredient in moving the hero to decisive action is the plan itself. This is your core message that outlines for clients exactly what they get by going with your service. And the delivery has to match the message or your clients won’t stick around for long.

In the IT market, The Plan is difficult to come by. At the B2C level, this is easier when you’re trying to frame an emotional connection with the product itself – the phone, the tablet, the movie – whatever. We are already conditioned to crave shiny new gadgets. “In the B2B space, this becomes more difficult. We aren’t as conditioned to crave back-end server maintenance or service pack updates” – JumpFactor B2B Digital Marketing CEO Zamir Javer.

All businesses start up by trying to meet some kind of need. In IT this is fairly obvious: businesses need computing, networking, data storage, printing, and a functioning mouse. But what sets you apart in the IT space for other businesses? What makes you unique? And please don’t say “we offer Office 365 installations,” or “we provide cloud hosting,” or even “we’ve got the best service around.” Why not? Because so does everyone else.

In the IT space, it’s not enough to focus on the technology you service. You’ve got to develop a Plan that demonstrates clear, repeatable results for clients. That’s what can set you apart. Sure, answering the question “what do we do?” is important, as is “who do we do it for?” But in your marketing message and in your service delivery processes, you have to clearly define and communicate the answer to the question “how do we do it?” What is the outcome you can deliver that others can’t? It’s got to be more than technology and break-fix services. Defining this key element is what sets you apart. That’s your Plan.

And that’s the ingredient you use to build your company’s story and speed the heroes on their way. Happy architecting.