The power of narrative

A portfolio should be a narrative leading your viewers to a decision you want them to make. It should never just be a catalog of everything you’ve produced. It leaves too much to chance. The viewer is left swimming in a pool of redundancy. In the absence of any direction, he or she is left to make their own sense of what they’re looking at. Choose instead a select group of items that help support a narrative – the story you want to tell – that moves through the following three stages:

  1. Discovery: If I don’t know your work, I need to be led to it. Online, all the usual techniques come into play. Search ranking, social media drivers, linking, etc. Add to that all the other off-line marketing influencers, like word of mouth, advertising, personal networking, promotion and signage. By whatever means, I’ve arrived on your site. Sometimes I simply wash up on your shore, so to speak, without any preconceived intent. Whether by design or happy accident, it’s your responsibility (and opportunity) to direct proceedings through your use of narrative.
  2. Recognition: Once I’ve found you, I need to recognize that I’m in a zone of relevance. Thoughts like, “This might be something I’m interested in” come to mind.
  3. Appreciation: It’s not enough to recognize relevance. Yours is probably not the only option available to me. I need to know that your work meets the standards I’ve set to enable me to make a decision. In fairness, I don’t necessarily know that before hand – particularly if you’re presenting me with some form of innovation.
  4. Action: Having led me to this point, it’s now your responsibility to convince me that yours is the product or service I want above all others. In the sales world, this is known as closing. Having attracted me, having gained my buy-in using a convincing narrative, you now want me to “buy it”.

There are other steps and stages involved in cultivating a customer, but this is the standard hierarchy of “sales”, commonly referred to as the sales funnel. Vague interest at the top, refining in relevance as one moves down through the levels to a key decision moment at the bottom.

Appropriation vs. Implementation

Without a structure like this, messages get blurted out in a sort of mealy-mouthed expression of enthusiastic optimism, without regard to any persuasive arc. As mentioned in Pt.1 of this series, you might learn something interesting about the company or initiative, but in the absence of a convincing and engaging narrative, you’re left to figure out on your own what to do with it. While the intent was keenly felt by the author, the execution just wasn’t there to back it up. Otherwise known as, lost in translation. While you may want your prospective clients to implement what you produce, an absence of direction invites them to appropriate your work, if they do anything at all.

Sadly, this isn’t simply an amateur vs. professional problem. Plenty of professionals let down their clients, while occasionally an amateur will hit one out of the park. In both instances, randomness replaces design. Like the proverbial broken clock that’s right twice a day, the remaining hours and minutes are a wasted opportunity. Your visitors are coming, looking to be influenced. Your responsibility is to honour that, and to guide them.

The way to minimize the variables is to have a rock-solid, clear, and actionable strategy. Only then will you have control over your visitors. Strategy informs the structure and content of your portfolio, but it also directs the functional elements of your fulfillment process

This suggests a level of sophistication you may not fully possess. Your strength is unquestionably in creating the content, not necessarily the marketing piece. Not a problem. Infinity Reef can help you at whatever point your skills diverge. All you need to do is engage us in a preliminary discussion about the nature of your work, and your intentions as an artist. We will lead you to a clear understanding of your objectives, and make recommendations as to how you can reach them in the most effective and efficient manner.

All of this may totally be within your ability and interest to manage. That’s great. We’re happy to help. If, however, there are gaps on the road to successville, we have affordable options to get you going. Just click the link below for more information.



– Have you had success in developing your portfolio? Share it in the comments below.
– Is there something you know you need? Name it in the comments below.
– Is your challenge still a mystery? Let’s break it down. Advice costs nothing, and solutions are priceless. Contact us today and move your business to the next level. Coffee’s on me.