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  • Writer's pictureMary Knox Miller

Don't Market. Connect.

Your organization probably tells people WHAT you do. Here's why WHY is so much more important.

I’m not a marketer. I’m a storyteller.

But the lines between the two blur are blurring.

I’d even say story is THE most important element in marketing because it allows your WHY to break through the noise.

Let me explain.

Tagline #1: We offer job recruitment services to mothers looking to re-enter the workforce.

Tagline #2: We empower women because they lift entire communities.

Which statement pulls you in more?

For me, it’s #2 - by a long shot.

In eight words, I understand your organization’s WHY. I don’t know details of what you do, but I know what drives you as human beings.

Why does that matter?

Because connection comes fastest and strongest from our shared humanity.

Let’s break it down.

We empower - You don’t just want to help, you want to strengthen hearts and minds to become self-sufficient. You are Yoda helping Luke Skywalker find his OWN way.

women - Immediately, you’re narrowing in and painting a picture of you in action.

because they lift - A woman’s strength knows no bounds. I read this and recall admirable women who’ve made a positive impact in my life, who’ve lifted me up and countless others.

entire communities - Not only are women strong, they selflessly look out for others. It’s programmed into our DNA and makes us natural leaders.

Got it?

But this is NOT easy. In fact, I’m still working on it.

My homepage used to look like this:

It read:

Hey there! I’m Mary Knox Miller

Educator + Video Strategist + Photographer helping mission-driven organizations tell their story + connect with their audience one human being at a time.

Sounds good, and below is my reasoning for each line. But something's off. Can you guess what it is?

Let’s break it down.

Hey there! I’m Mary Knox Miller - I’m intentionally casual to be perceived as approachable (and I am!).

Educator + Video Strategist + Photographer - My expertise so you can quickly filter if I’m relevant to you.

helping mission-driven organizations - I want to work with organizations motivated by serving something greater than themselves. Why? Because that’s who I am and who I connect with best. And if I’m going to encourage vulnerability through storytelling, you’re going to have to trust me, which means we have to connect way past reason.

tell their story - I produce videos, take pictures, and write - but those are the means, not the end. I reach higher. I want to empower you to recognize your story, craft it into a compelling narrative, and communicate in a medium that suits you. Why is it important for YOU to decide the medium? Well...

+ connect with their audience - People know when they’re being sold to. Plus, they can smell fake a mile away. This is why marketing doesn’t move people. Meaning does. Connection does. And you’re not going to connect with everyone - it’s not possible. You want to connect with people who believe what you believe and are motivated by the same things. How do you find them? Well...

one human being at a time - I bet you want to cast the net as wide as possible. And why not? You’re doing a.m.a.z.i.n.g things. But anytime you communicate to your audience, talk to them as if it’s one person. Use you / me, instead of they / us. Why? Read this again and tell me which is more powerful.

And don’t forget your call to action (CTA)

Work With Me - I make it crystal clear what the next step is if you’re ready to take action beyond signing up for Hook + Hold. Don’t assume your viewer knows the next step. Always, always, always include a CTA.

Good stuff, right?

Except, it's not.

The cover page of this 'book' is all about me. Marketing is supposed to be about YOU.

When you land on my homepage, it should immediately speak directly to you - where YOU are right now and where YOU want to go.

Plus, it should embody the change I hope to see in you.

Enter: A first-person, video-centric homepage

Now my homepage reads:

Right now, the world needs your gifts.

Find your voice.

Tell your story.

Explode your impact.

Let’s break it down.

Right now - Time is of the essence.

the world needs your gifts - Frederick Buechner, an educator, writer and theologian said, "Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need." You already have everything you need. No one but you can make the difference you can. So it's time to...

Find your voice - Discover how far you've already come and embrace vulnerability for what you don't yet know. This is true strength. But it's not enough for you to know it. Others need to hear it so...

Tell your story - With courage + conviction comes powerful emotional storytelling that will connect you with your audience, one human being at a time. Select a medium that plays to your strengths and forget the rest!

Explode your impact - Build a raving fan base hungry for your message, then drop your message and watch the ripple effect roar.

In addition, all of this text is overlaid on top of video footage. Why?

Visual storytelling is arguably the most important communication currency right now.

When you come to my website, you should have an experience - not just passively read information.

You're flooded with information every day, so I need to 'hook and hold' your attention.

Better, right?

I learned through l.o.t.s of practice, endless reading, and feedback from colleagues smarter than me. If you want to dig deeper, check out Building a StoryBrand and This Is Marketing.


Like what you've read? Sign up for Human Dispatches, a newsletter where I share all I've learned to inspire conversations.


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