We all have challenges from startups and small businesses to leading enterprises, particularly the shift from being a specialist in a specific field to managing various disciplines within the company. This leads us to look for quick and efficient strategies, especially in sales and marketing, where time and resources are limited.  

In today’s episode, Simon Harvey and outlines the Authentic Engagement plan and six simple steps to implement in your businesses.  He will explore the ways in which incorporating storytelling elements can enhance connections with prospects and customers, ultimately fostering business growth.

To help you improve your marketing strategy, download the free brand script worksheet, which includes sections for each part of the storytelling framework we discuss in our episodes, here (or copy and paste the link below):


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Episode Transcript

Simon Harvey: 

Life as a leader within a startup or small business is tough. I know I'm one myself. Many of us start off as specialists within the disciplines that we studied at school and the things that we built our early career around. Things like finance, engineering, software development or science. When we found a company though, everything changes. Suddenly we not only need to know about the things that we built the business upon, but we also need to learn really quickly how to become an expert in numerous other disciplines. It's tiring. Especially when you're doing this day in and day out and when time and money are tight. We just want to get things moving fast and we want to get them right first time. And that's especially true when it comes to selling and making money. So that's what we're going to take a look at today. In today's episode, and throughout this season of the Authentic Marketing Podcast, I'm going to show you how to implement a sales and marketing plan that gets you the right leads quickly and efficiently, converting them into sales and revenue for your business. So let's not spend any more time here talking. Let's get the show started. Hi there and welcome to the Authentic Marketing Podcast in association with Demodia, where we give you actionable advice to help you create marketing that works. I'm your host Simon Harvey and this is the point where I'd usually introduce you to my co host Daniel Kleber, uh, but unfortunately he's not with us today. No need to worry though, he's going to be dropping in and out again from time to time throughout the series. Speaking of series, today marks the start of a new season of the Authentic Marketing Podcast. So, as you know, story is everything to me. It's been the tool that we've used here at Demodia to double our revenue over the last couple of years. And it's the tool that's helping our clients to grow their business as well. Since we started this podcast, I've been talking a lot about storytelling and how to use it within your sales and marketing. And if we go back a little bit, in the first season we looked at how to create story for your business. Then in season two we discussed how to use story to create a demonstration so you don't bore your audience. And then more recently we've been taking a look about the massively important role that story plays within your website. You know, we all understand the benefits of a good looking website, but after the last season, I hope you now all understand why if your site doesn't also include a clear story that explains to visitors how you solve the problems, then your leads won't be converting. As we move on into this season, I want to answer the most common question that I get asked time and time again when I'm talking to clients and business leaders that I coach. And that's this. How do I use my story within broader sales and marketing? How do I actually use the story to get me new business? So having a story is great, but once it's captured within a brand script, there's no point in just leaving it sat there in a Word document or on a shared drive somewhere, you know, your story needs to become your business for it to work the most effectively, and it needs to be used everywhere. So on today's episode, what I'm going to do is introduce you to what I affectionately know as the authentic engagement plan. Then throughout this season, I'm going to show you how to weave the various elements of that plan into everything that you do, so that you can increase the connection that you have with your prospects and customers, and most importantly, you can grow your business. So the plan itself is simple. In fact, it's just got six steps with it. And those are the things that you need to take and implement within your business. So, as a fellow business leader, uh, and somebody that just wants to see companies out there succeed, what I'm going to do today is share this with you. I'll put a link in the episode notes too, so that you don't need to write everything down. So, let's start. Let's take a look at the plan, what it is and how you're going to use it. So, the first thing that you need is a plan. I work with numerous small business leaders, and the thing is, as a small business, I know that money's tight, you know, time is limited. And in particular, when there's only few of you doing sales or marketing, in any case, it's easy to say that a plan is not really much more than an academic exercise. You know, do you really need one? That's the thing that I often get asked. And I definitely think the answer is yes, you know, so many small businesses waste valuable time and money because they're just doing things that they think is trendy or it's just doing something because somebody else in their industry is doing it or a friend or somebody in a networking club has told them to try something, you know, they're doing things whether or not they're right for their business and they're not doing anything in a structured fashion. And the problem is that when you don't have a plan and you don't have a process to follow, you just do random things. And these random acts of marketing is what wastes your money more than anything. So your plan is essential. It's the place where you're going to decide how you're going to position yourself, what marketing activities and channels you're going to use, and most importantly, what your goals are and how you're going to monitor them later on. You know, without goals, you've got nothing to head towards, you know, goals need to be your guiding star. They're the thing that aligns your marketing activities with your business direction and objectives. They're the thing that tells you when you're doing things right, you know, what's working and when you're going off track. The other thing that you need your plan to encompass is the way that you communicate. And that leads me on to step two. So this is my favorite part of the whole process. And of course it's story. So, I often see this referred to as messaging or maybe value propositions. They're words that are used inside there to talk about this method for communication. But story, as we've mentioned many, many more times, has a flow to it, has a structure that people remember. It's not just a random narrative and it's not talking about values of features or functions and those things. The key parts of your story that we need to be talking about in here are things like your problem and the solution. You know, our brain is wired to recall stories and these sort of problem features. It's not wired to recall facts. And the trouble is that value propositions or these other messaging documents that I often see, they tend to be exactly that. They tend to be a set of facts and features about a product or service that says this is what we do. This is why we're better than our competition. That's not what people remember. Storytelling has really only become mainstream, I guess, in the last few years, you know, it's been known for humanity for generations and generations. It goes back to pretty much the existence of human civilization, but it's been great to see it sort of take off now and come into something that I love, you know, sales and marketing and be used inside there. Stories themselves have been told since the beginning of time and they still fascinate us today. You look at the amount of people that watch television, listen to podcasts, uh, watch YouTube videos or films. You know, stories are a way of communicating information that's much more efficient than any other way of communication. If you don't believe me, here's something that I often use with customers that you can go and try with your colleagues. So, go grab a pen or a piece of paper. And, what I want you to do when you've picked that up, is write down the formula, if you remember these mathematical formula things that you used to do at school. Yeah, write me down the formula that you used to calculate the length of the third side on a right angled triangle. You know, we all learned that in the middle school class. But can you remember it without having to resort to Google? I know it took me a few minutes the first time I went back and looked at this. So when you've done that, think about this. You know, as a child, I'm sure you were often read bedtime stories by your parents. Now, if I ask you to try and recall one of those specific stories that you were told as a child, can you do that? You know, my bet is that you found this second task much, much easier to do. I know that even after the years have passed, we still remember stories and how they made us feel. But the thing is, facts and formulas particularly, you know, they quickly fade into the background. So strange, isn't it? You know, why can we remember a bedtime story from our earliest childhood, but we can't remember a mathematical formula that was hammered into us time after time and we used to know off by heart? You know, this is why story is really the foundation of what we set up with The Authentic Engagement Plan. And it's everything that we do within my agency, Demodia. So, that's story, that's step two in there. Let's look at the next step. So the third step is process. Being efficient is critical for effective sales and marketing. And, you know, for that reason you need to make sure you've got the right processes and tools to support that. You know, you're going to hear me talking a lot in the next season about HubSpot. There's many other tools out there, but this one in particular is one that I really like and it's the one that I've chosen for our business. In order to tell the right stories to the right people. You need to learn everything that you can about them. And the thing is that tools like HubSpot include a CRM capability. So that's the place basically where you can capture and store all the data about your contacts and leads. And you can see exactly what they're doing at any point in time. You can see what information they're looking at. You can see most interestingly what stuff they're interested in and what they're engaging with. Also, to ensure that your sales and marketing are aligned, they provide you with the ability to create dashboards within which you can track your success metrics and monitor the flow of leads through your pipeline. So going back up to your planning there, this is where you can monitor those things. The other thing about sales and marketing tools is that they enable you to automate your routine tasks. And that's important too. As a small business, you don't want to spend massive amounts of time doing things like setting up and sending out hundreds of social posts or emails, particularly when they're individual ones to people that are just registering a few at a time each day. It means that you can continue to tell your story whatever time of day or night it's going to be. So, when you've got your processes sorted out, the next thing in here is website. That's step four of the plan. So, we talked a lot about this in the last season. I'm not going to go into it a great deal now. But your website is the place where your story begins. It's where it unfolds. It's most likely the first place that many of your contacts will learn about your story and engage with it. So, it's one of the most important points. In your whole process that you need to optimize, I still find it a shame when I see really great looking websites that companies have obviously spent thousands of dollars, pounds, euros or whatever you want to use to create, but they haven't gone to the effort of actually looking at the content and the story that they're telling in there. You know, I could look at these fantastic sites and I go away coming out none the wiser than I was at the start about what that company actually does. You know, how did they help me? Or what are they offering? So yes, your website definitely needs to be visually captivating, but it also needs to guide visitors into and through their journey. You know, from the initial problem they face to the solution that you offer. If you do this, and you've got a good looking website, you're going to capture the interest of people, and they're going to engage with your story. And that means that you can convert more and more of them into leads. So where do we go next? So websites work great as a tool for delivering your message. But there's many other channels out there and all of those need to tell the same story too. And that brings me on to step five in the engagement plan, and that is lead pipelines, or maybe campaigns as some people like to refer them to. So if you've managed to hone a story that resonates with your existing customers and the new prospects that you're talking to in person. Then now you're on to a winner when it comes to campaigning. AdWords, social media, landing pages, emails, all of those things are just additional media for telling your story through. And it's amazing to see how some customers have gone from spending thousands and thousands of dollars per month on ad campaigns that generated thousands of clicks but only had single digit conversion rates to situations where They've suddenly jumped up to sort of 20 or so percent conversion rates and reduced their budget significantly when they start telling that story. You know, people will engage, people understand, and it's exactly the same with ads. If you include your story in the ad content, if you include your story and further that story within your landing page and within the lead magnets and things that you're offering, people want to engage and your conversion rates will increase. So story plays a massive part in lead generation as well. And that's section number five in our process. The final area is then lead nurturing. So when you've got your leads, how do you turn them into sales? So again, nurturing programs really are just chapters in your story. You know, you want to write them as such as well. You know, think about the journey that your customers are going through. Capture that into an email and send it out step by step. When you're telling a story, there's no need to sell in every single email that you send. So you can provide useful information and build trust through these engagements. The sale is going to come naturally as your customers understand how you help them and how you help them solve a particular problem. So, those are the six areas that you need to optimize in order to get more leads and grow your pipeline. So as a quick recap, the six steps of the Authentic Engagement Program include a plan, communications, processes, a website, lead capture and lead nurture. By building a sales and marketing plan around your story and leveraging tools such as HubSpot to help you deliver that message in its various forms, you not only attract customers, but you're also going to foster relationships that endure. So if you're having problems getting the leads that your sales pipeline needs, then you can hire an authentic engagement coach. Just go to wantauthentic. com to hire a coach that will show you how to increase the effectiveness of your customer engagement programs and give you an easier way to grow your business. So usually this is the point in the program where I give you something to go away and do but today I don't have any specific steps for you but you can guarantee over the next few weeks there's going to be plenty to do as I dive into each part of the framework that we've just talked about and look at how you implement it within your business. So don't worry, there's going to be lots coming your way very soon. So that's all for today's episode of the Authentic Marketing Podcast. Thanks as always for listening. And don't forget to bookmark the podcast and share it with your friends. You know, I love to see, and I love to help businesses succeed, and I hope that I'm helping yours grow too. Thanks for your time today and see you next time.