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Managing Marketing – Storytelling in business and marketing

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Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 founder and global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Shawn Callahan, founder of Anecdote, discusses storytelling with Darren and how it is applied to business, marketing and advertising. Shawn shares some of his observations on where often marketers and their agencies get the storytelling concept wrong and questions the merits of story-doing, the latest trend in the advertising industry.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or, follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Podcast transcription

Darren:

Excellent.  So, welcome, I’m here with Shawn Callahan who is the founder of Anecdote, which specialises in stories for business.  How are you Shawn?

Shawn:

Hey, good to be here.

Darren:

Shawn mate, it’s great to catch up because it’s been quite a while since we’ve had a chance to sit down and have a chat.

Shawn:

Yeah, I know! It has, hasn’t it?

What’s the difference between stories and narratives?

Darren:

But, I think the last time I talked to you about stories was when I sent you a text recently. I was at a conference and there was someone on stage talking about the difference between stories and narratives.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

And I shared that with you and I loved the comeback that you did on Twitter. Do you think that people have a clear idea about stories and narratives and archetypes because they get thrown around a lot, especially in marketing?

Shawn:

Yeah, I think one of the things I’m noticing is large organisations immediately equate story with performance. You know, you have to make this performance. I heard about one organisation just recently who taught each one of their executives to tell their personal story and then link it to the company.

Darren:

Oh no.

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

You become the company man.

Shawn:

That’s right. And every time I hear that, I think it just comes across as very forced. They’re working too hard.  I reckon business story telling works best when it’s invisible.

When you’re sitting there and you’re a customer, you’re just engaged. They’ve just told a little story about the work that they’ve done with a big company in New York or something like that and you’re inferring all these things about that person, but you’re not sitting there going, “Oh, that’s a great story”.

Stories are just a natural part of conversation


Darren:

But don’t you love it when someone says to you, they actually set it up and go, “I’m going to tell you a story now”. Because immediately you feel like, oh, should I get into my pyjamas and wait for them to read this story to me?

Shawn:

Oh yes.

Darren:

And yet stories are just a natural part of conversation.

Shawn:

That’s it, exactly. I had a chat with a prospect the other day, big IT company and she was very much going down that performance mindset and rather than point it out to her, I wanted to just give her an example of how it works and so I said to her in the conversation, “Oh yeah well you know, this is very much like the work that we did last year. We went over to New York and we were more or less helping the marketing department for SAP turn their case studies into oral stories”.

Darren:

Okay, that’s a great idea.

Shawn:

Yeah.  So I just told this little story and then the conversation keeps going and then I stop and I said, this woman, Amanda her name is, I said, “Amanda, did you notice what I did then?” And she said, “What do you mean?”  Well I told you a little story about our work in New York and SAP and she went, “Oh yeah, you did” and I said, “What did you infer about me based on that story?”

She goes, “Well you work with big customers and you’re doing really innovative work”, so she listed off all these positive characteristics and I said, “That’s how you do business story telling”.  It’s just weaved into the conversation; it’s not this big performance piece that I think maybe some organisations are going down that path.

Darren:

But their story sort of comes from personal experience.

Shawn:

Yes.

Personal stories vs brand stories

Darren:

What I’ve noticed especially in marketing is that they’re not trying to tell personal stories; they’re talking about the brand’s story. So suddenly you’ve got you know, let’s pick a brand like McDonalds and everyone’s rushing around writing this brand story.

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

Which doesn’t ever seem to have a real personal connection or personal experience to it.

Shawn:

Yeah. In fact, we saw a great example of this recently with one of our customers, a big hotel chain for the Asia Pacific area and they had a problem where their marketing department had done all this great work on brand descriptions. So for each brand that they had, they might’ve had a sixty slide pack describing in detail what that brand was all about.

But the problem was that their sales people didn’t understand the brand and couldn’t differentiate between all the different brand types. So we said why don’t we go in and find stories that illustrate these different brands and how they differ, but find them from the sales people and their customers.

So there was this great example of just this one guy in one of the Arab countries, and he told this story about how his father used to take him as a kid to this hotel every weekend.  It was a big thing to go to this particular hotel. And now that he’s grown up and he’s wealthy, and he could buy his own hotel, he wants to buy one of those.

Darren:

He liked it so much he bought the company.

Shawn:

That’s right, he bought the company. And you know it’s just those little things.  I mean, that was a very non-business, emotional sort of connection but then you can find other ones that are very business savvy type.

Darren:

But aren’t the best ones the ones that are emotional connections?  I mean, don’t we respond to hearing a story, you know, someone telling us their story,

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

On an emotional level?  Or do you think there’s an analytical approach as well?  Because my experience is that if I present something, I’ll get questions that are analysing the robustness of what I’ve presented, whereas I like the fact that I can basically say the same thing in an appropriate story and people just emotionally engage and stop analysing the story.

What is emotional engagement?

Shawn:

Yeah, it’s an interesting one.  I think when people say emotion they think, you know, pour out your heart emotion.

Darren:

Grab the tissues.

Shawn:

That’s right.

Darren:

Get the Kleenex, I’m going to cry.

Shawn:

But there’s lots of different emotions, I mean, one basic one you know of course is surprise.  And that doesn’t have to be one that you’re crying about, it’s just saying, you’re sitting there going, “What? Did that happen? Really?”

Darren:

But there are also emotional connections, empathy, understanding.

Shawn:

Yes. All those things. But I think it’s understanding the wheel of emotion types and realising that you can go around the whole wheel and have different types of stories.

On that hotel project, I remember there was another example where it was really just a story about how a company, a guy who had a hotel, he was a billionaire, owned this hotel. It wasn’t going very well, he wasn’t getting the occupancy rate that he was hoping to get.

He then bought if you like, these big hotel chains, more or less skinned the hotel with their look and feel and their services and really their brand and their marketing ability, right. And within like a very short period of time, I think it was like three or four months, their occupancy rate doubled. And all he had to do was switch from his previous hotel chain to this new one which had a much greater marketing reach. And it was just a tiny story, but when they tell that story to other prospects, it has an emotional connection for them but on a, in a…

Darren:

Well they believe the success.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

They believe the results.

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

You put up a chart that shows here’s where we were then and here’s where we are now and look, there’s been an 11.9% increase in profit and 15% growth.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

You know you immediately start asking questions like, “Well what other variables were there?” you start analysing it because it’s a number.

Shawn:

That’s it.

Darren:

Whereas you tell the story, and people are inclined to go, “Oh okay”. But do you think, you know, going back to advertising,

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

The number of times agencies go, “We’re storytellers” when in actual fact, they make ads. Do you think an ad can actually be a story for a brand?

Shawn:

Yeah, well, I mean, I think some of the very best ads are stories for a brand but the other thing I think about it is that it’s not just a single story. It’s about having multiple stories that together build this bigger picture and I think the very best know how to do that.  They know how to build up.

I noticed in the subway in the UK, you see the Jack Daniels ads and each one of them is a little story about something that happened with Jack Daniels or going to the …

Darren:

Oh the train subway in the UK!  I’m thinking the Subway restaurant.

Shawn:

Oh right, yeah. In the subway, yeah.

Darren:

In the tube.

Shawn:

In the tube, sorry, yeah.

Darren:

The tube. It’s subways in New York.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

The underground and the tube is in London.

Shawn:

Got you, well done, yes. So you know, I think the very best can do that but they’re working on multiple stories. It’s almost like they have a platform of stories they’re drawing upon to paint this bigger picture.

To me, that’s a really good strategy for story in advertising. But then you see others who say, “Oh, this is the story of X” but then it’s not a story, right. And so they’re latching onto this idea of the word ‘story’, and they know it’s powerful but they’re not delivering something which is a narrative.

Darren:

It’s a bit like a community. We can call it a community but it’s actually just a hierarchy.

Shawn:

Yeah, exactly. So, I mean I find…

Using stories as a way to elicit a story back

Darren:

One of the things that I find missing in that, and one of the powerful things I know that you do in the work with Anecdote, is this idea of using the stories as a way to elicit a story back.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

There’s this idea that when you tell the story, it’s natural for people to then want to contribute their story in response to that, and that the insight you get from people sharing these stories with each other. And to me an ad is all one way. Here’s our story, read it and go away.

Shawn:

Yes, that’s true. I wonder whether a much better approach is to somehow to be able to trigger stories so that the audience is creating the story. as opposed to the organisation and recently I’ve been … I love architecture. So whenever I get an opportunity to check out new architecture, and of course when you’re overseas..

I’ve just come back from Europe, you know some of the great architecture, some of the old cathedrals and big churches of Europe and when you go to those places and in fact this is pretty much the case for every church. You go into a church, there is no writing on the wall,  there are no stories written out, right. There are paintings, there are statues, there are mosaics and each one of those, triggers stories.

Darren:

I’ll counter, in every Roman Catholic Church, there are the thirteen Stations of the Cross okay? And those thirteen tableaus tell the story of Jesus and his crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. So every Catholic Church actually has a story, it’s called the Stations of the Cross and they follow, there are no words, but there are pictures that you then bring the story to.

Shawn:

But that’s my point, there are no words.

Darren:

Right, okay.

Shawn:

If you’re new to the congregation and you walk into that church, some more experienced person would take you to the first station and they would say…

Darren:

That’s exactly what they do.

Shawn:

And they would tell the story. So that’s where the group is sharing the story but it’s triggered by something, right?

Darren:

Yeah.

Shawn:

And I think organisations need to do something like this, where instead of having these hokey histories of their company as a timeline in their foyers and stuff like that, they should be having something in there that triggers a foundation story or a story which is about some values that they have, or something that is the essence of the company that gets told over and over again. But it’s not a forced thing, it’s not something like, “You shall follow these”, tenets, it’s more about reminding you of those stories that get them told.

Darren:

Well there’s a lot of talk in marketing around purpose.

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

Now it’s really interesting because from what you’ve just said then, it makes me think that in some ways if a company can define purpose, like their purpose, right, then that opens the opportunity for people to talk about and tell their stories about where that purpose fits in their life, or where that purpose has worked in their life, or where it’s relevant to them.

That could be staff, it could be suppliers, it could be senior management, but it can also be customers who can then talk about it, “well this is relevant to me because” and there’s the start of the story.

Shawn:

Yeah. That’s right and it has phenomenal power. There’s been a classic experiment done that illustrates the effect that that has.

It was in a call centre. They split the call centre in half as they do with these experiments. One side were told the reason why you’re doing this is so that you can earn good salaries and you can get good benefits, and they listed them out.

The other half, they said the reason why you’re doing this is for the benefit of, and essentially they were collecting money from benefactors to improve scholarships for students, and so they were talking about the impact on those student lives and the core purpose, how they were changing what these students can actually do.

Darren:

Or engaging them in the broader story.

Shawn:

That’s right! Well the guys who were told the story of the purpose and a range of different stories had a 20 times increase in productivity.

Darren:

Because they were engaged.

Shawn:

Yeah, all of a sudden.

Darren:

And I bet they shared those stories with the people they were talking to.

Shawn:

Yes, they did.  So it has a profound impact but going back to what you’re saying in terms of eliciting these stories, I think it’s an underdeveloped skill that we have because we tend to ask questions that get opinions.

Darren:

Yes.

Shawn:

Right, we’ll ask, so why did that happen? Well, the reason why that happened is X, Y and Z and you just get this opinion. But just simply changing the way you ask questions and saying things like, “Have you seen that happen before Darren?”

Darren:

And immediately I’ll give you the story of when it happened before.

Shawn:

That’s right and it’s a small change.

Darren:

But the interesting thing is, in that, I’m not giving you my opinion, I’m giving you the observation of what happened as I remembered it, and then that opens it for you to interpret what were the actual causes and effects or what were the influences.

Shawn:

Exactly, exactly.

Darren:

So actually it’s a more honest way of delving into because opinion is heavily laden with politics and agendas and things like that.

Shawn:

Yep.

Darren:

Rather than the story being told from the perspective of telling the story.

Shawn:

Yeah, exactly right.

Darren:

You mentioned before, and you talked about values and one of the things…because a lot of companies have gone through this idea of putting up their mantra and these are the values.

Shawn:

Yep.

Is there a role for archetypes?

Darren:

We’ve actually gone down a different path than this. At TrinityP3 where we talked about what archetypes of the sixteen or more archetypes, what were the ones that were really as a collection of people, what were the ones that really resonated with us and the three that came up were the rebel, the creator and the sage and the reasons behind that.

Do you think there’s a role for archetypes because as part of story telling, people immediately go to the archetypes and I think we both agree that if we hear the hero’s journey one more time, we’re going to blow our brains out.

Shawn:

Yes that’s right.

Darren:

Or someone else’s but do you think there’s a role for archetypes as a way of giving people access to being able to think about things or not?

Shawn:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, the great thing about archetypes is that they should be very multi-faceted. You should be able to access them in all sorts of different ways, but one of the great benefits of them is that because they have complexity to them, you can actually start to ask those questions about how they might interact, how might that archetype do certain things?

It’s almost like taking the characters and sort of working out what sort of story you want to create with that. So certainly it does that and it also gives you a reflection in terms of … sometimes when we develop archetypes for organisations, and we don’t do that work so much these days, but when we have done it, you tend to get these insights into a culture which surprise the living heck out of people.

All of a sudden you can see the gasping where it’s, “Really? we’ve got that archetype in our culture?”  And then that enables a conversation to be had about how do we deal with that?  I mainly see that archetype work being done in marketing and advertising companies, it seems to be…

Darren:

It is heavy, a heavy conversation. And it gets quickly bundled up with storytelling so it’s archetypes, it’s a groovy archetype and it’s the hero’s journey and the every man.

Shawn:

Yes, right.

Darren:

Well, I’m old enough – Harrison Ford was the every man. You know, the every man that could do amazing things.

Shawn:

Yeah, yeah.

Darren:

Look like an every day morning, bloke next door, but had super human abilities.

Shawn:

Right, right.

Darren:

And they’re picked on I think because there’s just positive. People are scared of archetypes because of complexity.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

There are negative aspects to those personalities so they avoid those.

Shawn:

Yeah well the funny thing is, when we’ve developed archetypes for companies, and we do it not as a marketing thing but as an insight into the culture and we let the characteristics of the archetypes emerge from the stories that we’ve collected, so you get potentially really quite negative archetypes.

You get ones like … we had one company that had a bee keeper archetype and it was all about doing the right thing, mending, sort of cultivating, and then on the other hand they had another archetype that was the grim reaper.

Darren:

Right.

Shawn:

Right, yeah, so it certainly got them thinking about.

Darren:

I bet that was an interesting conversation at board level.

Shawn:

Yeah, it was.

Darren:

The grim reaper, okay.

Shawn:

Yeah, exactly.

Darren:

It wasn’t for a hospital was it?

Shawn:

No, no it wasn’t.

Darren:

Good.

Shawn:

I won’t give away who had the grim reaper.

Story telling or story doing? What’s the difference?

Darren:

But the other thing that happens. I think marketing is particularly good at co-opting words and concepts and then changing them, but I just wonder cause the big thing in the last twelve months or so, is it’s not about story telling Shawn, it’s about story doing.

Shawn:

Right, story doing, yes.

Darren:

So what do you think?  Is this sort of splitting hairs or is this irrelevant?

Shawn:

I don’t know, I mean, on one hand you can say people are trying to use new language to get a slightly different angle on things, but I must admit I get a little bit skeptical about these efforts.

I mean, to me, story doing…when I look at story doing, seems to be very similar to what most story telling people are doing anyway. There’s no real differentiator in there. It’s a bit like people who are saying, “Oh no, it’s not story telling, it’s narrative”.

Darren:

Which is where we started!

Shawn:

Exactly.

Darren:

Narrative is different from story telling.

Shawn:

Yeah, and you know, God, there’s philosophers who’ve worked on this for thousands of years, I don’t think we’re going to crack it open in the time we have on this Earth. But I think I like to take a very practical approach.

You want to be able to do three things with story work. You want to tell stories, you want to elicit stories and you want to trigger stories. And I suspect the ‘story doing’ stuff is a little bit about triggering new stories out there so perhaps they’re tapping into that a little bit.

Talk the talk and walk the walk

Darren:

Okay so to use another, is it an idiom? They say it’s not talking the talk, it’s walking the walk. So what the belief is, is that just telling the story isn’t enough because it won’t engage the listener in a way that they’ll believe the story, but you actually have to walk the walk.

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

You know, you can tell the story of the duck but unless you walk like a duck, no one’s going to believe the story of the duck.

Shawn:

Yeah, and that’s true because when you have a choice between, do you believe the story or do you believe the actions that people are taking, you’ll always believe the actions.

Darren:

Oh, you sound like Doctor Phil.  You know, the only predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour so that’s quite good.

Shawn:

I mean, I saw a nice example of it. I was flying around as we do, lining up behind Virgin counter and there’s a whole gaggle of people clearly going on a conference. And I can hear from the conversation, that they’re all going economy because of some decision made by the head shed that’s that was what needed to happen. I see what clearly is the leader of the organisation walk up to the counter and he’s in the economy line like everyone else and they’re all chatting away. They’re obviously going somewhere which is fun and the lady behind the counter looks at his credentials and she realises he’s platinum or whatever and she offers him a business class upgrade.

Darren:

Yep.

Shawn:

Right?  Why not? This guy chatted to her for a moment, I couldn’t quite hear but I think he was more or less asking her if he could do what he was thinking of doing, gets the nod, turns around to the person behind him and says, “Have you ever flown business class?”, and the person goes, “Nah”.

Darren:

So the actions actually would lead to stories amongst all of those staff or that organisation, that this is what he did.

Shawn:

That’s right.

Darren:

That his behaviour actually fulfilled what’d been said.

Shawn:

That’s right and if that’s story doing, I call it triggering stories, but I think that’s a very important thing. But it’s not an either, or. No, we must do story doing and not story telling, it’s actually this triumvirate of three things that you could do around story work to make a difference.

Darren:

I think it’s driven by probably a high level of skepticism in marketing and advertising where a brand will go out and tell stories through advertising about, let’s say customer service, and they’ll use examples of stories, or stories as examples of customer service.

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

They may not even be true stories, but there’s a demonstration in the story about how this brand will go above and beyond what would be normally accepted to deliver this outcome.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

And then, immediately, when the person walks into the branch, they get treated the same garbage way that they’ve always been treated so there’s no point telling the story unless you’re willing to do what you say.

Shawn:

Well it’s not even no point, it’s actually probably working against you.

Darren:

Counter.

Shawn:

Counter. I mean, have you seen all those big billboard ads for McDonalds at the moment?  This is something that says something like, “This is not very McDonalds like” and there’s service and all sorts of luscious hamburgers and you’re thinking, “God that could be the best hamburger I’ve ever seen”.

Now I haven’t been to McDonalds recently but if I go to McDonalds and it doesn’t match that, that’s exactly the problem you face.  You then create an anti-story right.

Darren:

Yep.

Shawn:

And an anti-story will just be the thing that takes over so it’s an important element.

Darren:

So you’ve just triggered in my mind, this is why in marketing and business, stories have become so important because social media is all about people telling stories; your customers telling stories.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

And if you don’t learn how to trigger, seed, encourage stories from your customers, then they’re going to tell their stories anyway, irrespective of your influence or your participation.

Who can control the narrative?

Shawn:

Well, that’s right.  I went to the Davos Communications Conference earlier this year and one of the big marketing companies got up and they said they’re going to control the narrative and I nearly fell off my chair and I thought, you’ve got to be joking, but they had this idea that they could just say…

Darren:

Were they Mark Zuckerberg?  Because he might be able to do it but I’m not sure anyone can control the narrative.

Shawn:

Control the narrative, oh my God!

Darren:

Did they explain what they meant by that?

Shawn:

Not really, not in any sort of detail but what was interesting, it was actually in relation to branding a country.

Darren:

Okay.

Shawn:

Right, so they were talking about this particular country and how they were going to control the narrative and I was like, good luck to you.

Darren:

Well even China is having trouble controlling the narrative because of social media.

Shawn:

Yeah, yeah.

Darren:

Even with all the controls, the government to their credit is learning to let go and allow some narratives and stories to run because they see it’s the right thing to do. The more you try and suppress stories, in actual fact, all you’re doing is forcing them underground and that makes them more potent.

How do you counter misinformation?

Shawn:

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think the other thing too which I find interesting and which we’ve been doing some work around this space of how do you counter misinformation?

Because one of the things I see is an error played out over and over again in organisations, is a story will start to bubble in the organisation which is causing the executives real pain and then their gut response is to deny it.

Darren:

Yeah.

Shawn:

And you know, it’s just a classic, they go, “No, no, that did not happen”.

Darren:

Don’t you just counter the story?

Shawn:

That’s right! You have to have a better story, you can only beat a story with a better story. There’s some lovely research done by some Western Australians actually.

They did this scenario which was replicating a fire in a warehouse and the messages that would come out to a fire brigade and say, “Fire started at this time, it’s burning in this area” and then they say things like, “Oh, and we found oil based paints and gas canisters in the closet right next to where the short out happened”.

Darren:

Right.

Shawn:

Right, so in your mind you go, “well that’s what caused it”, right?

Darren:

That’s what caused it, yeah.

Shawn:

Anyway, the next line, and they wait a little bit, in the next line they say, “Oh no sorry, we got that wrong, just disregard that”.

Darren:

Right

Shawn:

And then they continue on with the report and at the end they ask the people some questions.  They’ll say, “So, there was black smoke coming from the warehouse, what caused the black smoke?” “Oh, it was the paints and the gas canisters that got…”, they’re just totally incorporating the information which they were told was not there and then, this is the thing that amazed me – a little bit after that they said, “Oh, we just wanted to ask some questions about how we told you that this bit, we struck that out, it didn’t actually happen, do you remember that?” “Oh yeah, I remember that”. From a logical, rational perspective, they know it’s not true.

Darren:

It’s the way we process the information as human beings.

Shawn:

That’s right. They did another one, just to compare it of course, another group, but instead, again they struck out that information but then they replaced it with a better story. They said, “Oh but what we did find was, we found some petrol soaked rags right next to some canisters”, so immediately you’re thinking arson etc.; so of course when you’re asked about the smoke, “Oh”…

Darren:

It wasn’t the short and the paints, it was the petrol soaked rags.

Shawn:

That’s right, exactly.

Darren:

So a better story counters the first one.

Shawn:

The previous story, yeah. Whereas I was watching…have you been watching this thing about Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard? The Killing Season.

Darren:

Oh yes, yes. The Killing Season on the ABC.

Shawn:

There was this classic scene where Julia Gillard was telling a little story about how she’d come out of a cabinet meeting and she obviously upset Kevin Rudd and after it, Kevin comes right up to her face and he’s blowing his stack and she’s saying he’s using real bullying behaviour and you’re getting this picture in your head about this interaction and then they cut to Kevin. What do you think about that? “It didn’t happen”. And I’m thinking, “Yeah it did!”

Darren:

Just straight denial is not enough. You have to give some plausible alternative.

Shawn:

Well he could’ve said another story. He could’ve said, “Yeah, I was really angry that day and I did come out I must admit, but the way I remember it is…” and you tell another story. Now that’s not going to immediately get you to switch because…

Darren:

But it’s at least something to consider. I mean, he could’ve said, “Yes I was very angry but it’s very important in my role that I need to keep control”.

Shawn:

But see that’s not a story though is it? That’s more of an opinion. You want to actually tell a story of what he did you see because we’ve got to have that cause and effect.

Darren:

Okay, but he could’ve gone on to prove that even under huge stress he stays calm.

Shawn:

That’s it. That would be what you infer out of that story. So yeah, I think it’s interesting what’s happening in these different industries that we work in.

Darren:

Well look, all I can say is marketing, you definitely jumped on board with the ideas of stories. It’s stories, brand stories, it’s ‘story doing’ as well as ‘story telling’.  It’s building a brand narrative so that everyone can be talking about and telling the same story.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

Around the brand. I’m just wondering whether it actually resonates. Is this just another technique that everyone’s picked up on or because you work in business, not marketing okay?

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

And clearly in that context, it’s getting a huge amount of traction.

Shawn:

Yes.

Is marketing just scratching the surface?

Darren:

I’m just wondering whether marketing is just scratching the surface?

Shawn:

I mean, I think organisations go through different levels of sophistication. Their first blush effort is almost like this performance story telling type approach, because that’s what they kind of get from Hollywood. Their conceptions about what a story should be.

And then they get a little bit more sophisticated and nuanced about their stories and then they start to realise that a whole bunch of people are already doing it in their organisation.

Like their sales people. Take the top 20% of the sales force in your organisation, they’re all story tellers, you know. And you start to see what they’re doing and how they’re using it, you start to realise, how it can be done.

But yeah I think it’s just a different first phase of use of story in this new way if you like. Mind you, you talk to people in that field, especially people who are crafting – I call them big S stories – I have this spectrum, one end is big S story telling where it’s beautifully crafted, well told, beautifully performed.

Darren:

An hour talk and tele play.

Shawn:

Yeah exactly. But then right at the other end of the spectrum there’s the small S stories. The little ones like I told about SAP.

Darren:

The personal anecdotes.

Shawn:

The personal anecdotes. That’s what I’m in, the small S end. You can learn things by going up the spectrum to the big S but you don’t want to go too far because as soon as you go too far, people start to see you as someone who is a little false.

Darren:

An entertainer.

Shawn:

That’s right.

Darren:

And a professional rather than a personal story teller.

Shawn:

Yeah, that’s right. And I, and again it comes back to, I think this feeling that your really good story telling, in business anyway, I guess it’s like going to the movies. Imagine if you went to the movies and you’re thinking about the story telling. I mean, that’s a waste of a movie as far as I’m concerned right.

Darren:

You know it’s a bad movie when you’re actually analysing the story.

Shawn:

That’s it. And it’s the same within business. That’s why stories have to be invisible. You should be just sitting there taking in the conversation.

Darren:

Not here comes story one and we’ll transition to story two and finish with story three.

Shawn:

Indeed.

Darren:

Thank you very much, applause.

Shawn:

Yep.

Darren:

Well Shawn, that’s fantastic, thank you.

Shawn:

Pleasure. Good chatting.

Darren:

Anyway, I’ve got this story I was going to tell you.

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Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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