Storyteller Marketing: How the Art of Storytelling Matches Up With the Business of Marketing

The huge smiley face on the screen is meant to keep our energy up after the fuel of lunch starts wearing off. Good idea. Also going to perk us up? Stories!

Hmm, I don’t know about you but story time reminds me of bed time. Well, let’s see how it goes.

Gary Stein, Director of Strategy at Ammo Marketing, is differentiating between “brand” and “story”.

• Statement of belief
• Communicated
• Managed
• Developed
• Stakeholders
• Ability to recall
• Needs to be managed

• Chain of events
• Shared
• Lived
• Experienced
• Characters
• Ability to retell
• Needs to be given

In the networks that matter, The Story is the critical unit of communication. Google did a great job of going into the unstructured world of Web content. The places that are growing now are structured networks like MySpace and Facebook. This is where you find discussions and stories. People aren’t saying, “Pete’s coffee uses a high-quality blend of beans.” Instead they say, “I had the most amazing cup of coffee at Pete’s.”

The Story is the most powerful form of communication. Stories shape behavior. That means that business is being shaped by the story that is being told. Stories are becoming the core of marketing. How do we turn stories into business?

There are five stories that can be told. With that knowledge, you can determine if they are value-generating or value-damaging story.

1. Origin: Where did our product, company or brand come from?
2. Purpose: Why do we do what you do?
3. Vision: Where are we going?
4. Education: What is the context around which the product sits?
5. Ethics: Anytime someone walks the walk of what they’re doing.
6. Connection: How do you connect with the world?

(Somehow I came up with six… Huh.)

Generate stories by following the process to review, evaluate, build and deploy. People aren’t searching on the brand or the product but on the benefit, via benefit-statement searches. The benefit statements are buried in the right stories.

Sally Falkow, President of Expansion Plus Inc., continues the session by saying that there is a story in every business. Even if you don’t give it any thought, people are going to tell stories about your brand. Think about what is the brand story we’d like to share. You also have to know what is being said about you.

Ready for some stories? On the screen is PC and Mac, the funny guys from the Apple commercials. They tell a story. Kleenex is another example, as they do guy-on-the-street interviews with Kleenex users. Dove’s pro-age campaign is another good example that tells the story of growing old gracefully and taking care of yourself.

Tell an authentic story. Insincere or fake stories will backfire. To find it you will have to listen for the story. Listen to employees, customers and suppliers. Use tools or Google alerts to find out who’s talking, who are the influencers, how you can get into the conversation.

Connect your brand to the story. All creative must be tied to the story. Then, amplify the story online. One way to do that is with optimized press releases with images. Don’t tell the story only through print. Tell it through many formats, like audio, video, articles, blogs, other Web sites and syndication. The RSS, the story will take on a life of its own.

As always, consistency is important. How you look, what you say and, most important, what you do must be consistent. You should also leave something to the imagination so that people want to know more about you. If you empower your users and fans, they will tell the story for you.

Larry Lawfer, Founder and President of, says that he gets people to talk about you in an engaged way. Pull them in rather than pushing out. There’s a picture of smiling people at a diner. He says that adding words to the picture will add meaning. By adding “Where the food is always hot and the people are always warm” you’ll be drawing people in.

Engage, inform, retain, create community and grow!
• The basic rule is be real.
• Be authentic.
• Invite involvement.
• Listen, respond, repeat.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth? Video brings images, time, music and action together. It’s the first place on the home page a viewer will click.

What Lawfer knows
• Interviews are a process.
• Research and develop questions.
• Gather more information.
• Prepare, aware, define.
• Follow through with what you just heard.

More points to go away with
• Authentic is essential.
• Real is invaluable.
• Scripted and practiced devalues your result.
• People are visually sophisticated. Make your content the best it can be.
• Develop a library of content.
• Imagine you’re talking to a friend when you pitch because straight pitches don’t get as much interest as what you’d say to a friend.

Which of the types of stories is most effective?
Gary Stein: If you’ve got a vision story, those should be especially effective.

How do you know when you’ve found the right story?
Sally Falkow: Again, listen to what people are saying. You’ll find the one that resonates when you look and dig both inside and outside.
Gary Stein: When you hear it you’ll feel the spark if you listen as a human. He says that if you really can’t find a story (Sally’s shaking her head), then make one. A good example of this Red Bull.

Want examples?
Check out the following resources:

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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