Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
mobile-logo
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Top

Managing Marketing: The important use of a brand story

Mark Jones Podcast

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.

Mark Jones is the Chief Storyteller and CEO of Filtered Media and co-host of The CMO Show podcast. He sits down with Darren to discuss storytelling for brands and business and how a great brand story or narrative can be used across paid, earned and owned media channels to build trust in the brand with customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing. Today I’m sitting down with Mark Jones, chief storyteller and CEO of Filtered Media and co-host of the podcast ‘The CMO Show’, welcome Mark.

Mark:

Thanks for having me.

Darren:

Mark it was great running into you at Mumbrella 360 earlier this year and also being able to listen in on you recording The CMO Show live.

Mark:

Thank you.

Darren:

That must have been quite an experience, I’d imagine.

Mark:

It was the first time we’d done the show in a live environment, it’s actually something I’d dreamed about for a long period of time, getting out of the studio, so a great experience.

Darren:

And it worked so well, the audience participation or just engagement was palpable in the room.

Mark:

Well thank you, that’s very kind. The theme of the particular episode was making media great again which is the obvious Trump connection and so I think that kind of brought its own energy plus also our guest, the CMO at Fairfax , Michael Laxton is a fantastic talent.

Being able to help people understand what that brand is going through in terms of being able to connect with their readers and their customers and stakeholders, it was a really good experience to get inside the mind of the first CMO.

Darren:

Now you mentioned Fairfax then and in some ways this Filtered Media, your company that you cofounded, actually came from that background. Give us a little bit of the story on how Filtered Media has come to be.

Mark:

It’s an interesting one, I spent two years at the Financial Review, I was the Technology editor or IT editor. Prior to that I was at IDG both in Australia and San Francisco for about 8 or 9 years, actually close to ten I think. So, this long background in technology/ business/ B2B content as a journalist and an editor, opinion writer etc and then when I left Fairfax I actually had the opportunity to contract back to them. I was producing a podcast, doing some digital marketing and freelance journalism so really, Filtered Media is a big hat tip to Fairfax for helping me get started.

Darren:

Interesting because it’s sort of the start of the gig economy wasn’t it, around 2007/2008?

Mark:

I guess so. Everybody has their own journey. Freelance journalism has been around for a really long period of time and that’s how I started and the interesting thing that happened is that I started noticing that the freelance per word rate was going down and then I saw this kind of corporate line and I could charge double or more for a similar kind of product. When you’ve got a young family and thinking about what you are going to do with your time you sort of have to make some big decisions.

Darren:

Now you’ve just shared your story and yet storytelling and especially brand storytelling is such an important part of your business isn’t it?

Mark:

It is. My wife Heather and I had this idea; her background is in corporate PR and communications, IBM and Lenovo and she worked with lots of great brands over the years also in San Francisco and here. And of course, mine was in journalism and we thought, what happens if you put those two disciplines together what happens if you can go to a brand and say, ‘we can look after not just the strategy and the messaging side but also the content piece and how you can tell that story in a really engaging way’.

And it felt a bit like oil and water at the time, you know, never the two should mix but as it turns out there was a market for it.

Darren:

Well it’s interesting because often within organisations corporate affairs or corporate strategy and marketing are almost at odds with each other or at least talking with different voices. Do you think this is where brand story or corporate story can actually unify that?

Mark:

Yeah, we’ve been in the market with this line telling the story brilliantly for many years now since I don’t know.

Darren:

At least ten years.

Mark:

At least ten years and I’ll sort of take you to a moment in time. We’re part of the PROI-the Public Relations Organisation International, so it’s a network of independently owned PR agencies. We’re actually second in revenue building globally to Edelman. And I was at the annual summit and it was interesting talking to my peers from around the world.

There is this global consensus that the disciplines, if you like, from a channel perspective around PR or earned, paid, owned, shared, all these types of channels that we have access to, we’re looking for a way to bring them together in a cohesive way.

My view is that storytelling is the answer to that. Storytelling is the one way that unifies everything that you do. When you think about it your brand is a story. Your customers are the other segment you think about. They have a story of their own but also a story as it relates to your brand or not. And then the other part of these three spheres of influence is the channel story.

So, what you need to do is try and find a way to bring all of those things together and again story, a story is the best way to do that.

Darren:

Do you think of it as the one story or is it actually a whole series of stories on a theme that actually builds over time or does it vary?

Mark:

Again, with the brand story, what’s the narrative of a particular brand, you could take Nike back in the early days before they were bigger than Adidas, in short it was kill Adidas right; the underdog. All different brands have a narrative, a primary narrative that they embody themselves in and they take to market.

So, you start from there and then you develop these messaging pillars and then, if you like the tree extends out it gets into more granular messaging further down. But I do think about it as a narrative. The best example is a movie director, what’s this arc that you are taking people on?

If the brand is the director how are you going to take people through a journey? But unlike a movie where I have the audiences’ attention for two hours, it’s actually fragmented so how do I take them on this journey through all these different touch points and that’s where it gets interesting.

Darren:

So, in some ways multiple stories to that narrative actually help build someone’s engagement or understanding of the brand story over time.

Mark:

Right, and that is why you might role out your messaging in different chapters over time for example some of the work we’ve done has been you know quarter by quarter and you might look to take people on a journey.

Darren:

Certainly, as you were explaining that I was immediately thinking of Qantas. Qantas has done such a brilliant job over many years of having a brand narrative or a corporate narrative around safety. I mean even to the point that years ago ’Rainman’ had that line about Qantas are the only ones that have never had an accident. Everything has been related to the safety of the passengers, hasn’t it?

Mark:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve been thinking about this actually quite intensively for a couple of years. I’ve developed a keynote workshop series called Beliefonomics; it’s a framework for how you create that narrative and tell the narrative. But at it’s core is this idea, with Qantas in mind, what do people believe about your brand? I think this is the great untold story of marketing.

We think a lot about their behaviour, how can they change their behaviour in order to buy my product or service but if you dig a bit deeper what do people really really believe? In the Qantas thing we really do believe I will be safer on a Qantas plane.

What do they believe about competition such as Virgin? Probably I’ll be just as safe but I’ll also pay less money. You know and then follow the scale right. What do they believe about Jetstar; easy way to get to my holiday destination. There are some core belief motivations that really under pin brand strategy.

And what I’m passionate about is how do we take that core belief sentiment from a consumer perspective and how do we reflect that in our storytelling?

Darren:

So what brands do you think are doing it really well?

Mark:

Adobe’s got a great platform for marketers called cmo.com which comes from a digital marketing trade media background and heritage, so really understanding what that is.

And then other inspiration is like everybody talks about ‘the like a girl’ campaign. That was really powerful because people got it straight away. The way to really identify a great brand story or a great brand storytelling campaign is that it resonates instantly, I got it, I see its message and I got it. With ‘like a girl’ there was that, if you recall ‘I can throw like a girl but throwing like a girl is actually a really strong and powerful thing to do not perhaps what little boys used to think.

Darren:

In that particular case it almost feels it’s a one off isn’t it? A good brand narrative would create this arc over time. The idea of story is to create a transformational arc in the audience by telling the story of the brand isn’t it?

Mark:

Yeah, and actually that one didn’t go away. It actually went from a very interesting integrated campaign across all the different channels into these ongoing TEDx style events so they did create a bit of a movement out of it and so I thought that was quite a great example actually and then of course there’s been plenty other examples where effectively you see these movements that start and State St of course with the raging bull example which was just highlighted recently at Mumbrella 360 right.

Darren:

With the defiant girl.

Mark:

Right.

Darren:

Standing there facing the Wall Street bull.

Mark:

Right, exactly, what was so powerful about that is that it’s an integrated brand storytelling campaign but the foundation corner stone of that campaign is public art.

Darren:

Which was to stimulate conversation, to get people thinking about the idea of, this is the traditional financial model, the bull of Wall Street, you know the bulls and bears and then you have the young girl standing there defiantly in the face of that to talk about gender equality and diversity.

Mark:

Right, and now she has her own place elsewhere on Manhattan Island and it’s a fixture. It’s actually gone into public spaces and I think we need to challenge this idea we have in the marketing community; storytelling ,yes part of it has been this advertising creative narrative.

Darren:

Yes, because I was going to say, that example feels heavily more as an advertising idea than it does for me a storyteller.

Mark:

Yeah, but actually if and you look into the case study most of the focus was on earned media, so there was a strong PR element. There was a very strong social element and also content, so brand funded, brand produced content. That was all timed to come out and tell the back story of this girl and how they all came to be and it all fueled itself. The advertising spend was very low.

Darren:

Advertising agencies that traditionally did the thirty-second TV ad, and are now building their reputations on doing actually what use to be called a PR stunt, is now their idea of storytelling and I just wonder whether that actually is storytelling.

For me storytelling is actually engaging people in a narrative that they almost get to complete the meaning of the story. They bring the meaning to it by actually hearing this story and I think sometimes these stunts get attention and they get media coverage because people write about them and that type of thing, but then it’s almost like, so what’s next?

What’s the next chapter of the story? What’s the next iteration of that story that helps build a brand over time through that? Advertising has become notorious for changing every time there’s a new campaign. I’m wondering do you think storytelling works the same way?

Mark:

I think storytelling in its purest form has always been and always will be, we are now talking about the expressions of it. I think it’s really interesting to go back to some of the history about how we got here. I was working in San Francisco during the dotcom crash as it happened and my greater story from that is that I survived.

Darren:

The bubble burst.

Mark:

The bubble burst all around me and I had the privilege of documenting it, but at the time, blogs came along and it actually came out of the tech community and this kind of rebellious spirit of ’we can be the media’ right, meaning the ordinary citizen. Because suddenly you had these free platforms that allowed you to broadcast your stories around the world and people were predicting the death of media and all this stuff.

If you fast forward ten to fifteen years since that time, we still have media in its different shades of glory and struggles but we now have this idea where brands and large organisations have said, in addition to the media support I’ll continue to give in whatever shape or form, I now recognise that I can tell my story directly. So, I now have more tools and more opportunity to shape that story directly, so I can become effectively like a media organisation.

Now the challenge with that is that anybody can tell their story but not anyone can do it well. And so, we have these marketing/advertising-like ideals that still come through and they are not sympathetic enough to the audience in terms of what they believe about your brand, what they’re looking for, what their real needs are, what their wants are and if you get those two things out of sync, that’s when you can have the sort of tension you are describing.

Darren:

We’re talking about content marketing there; blogs were the start of the whole idea of content. And I know content marketing goes back to Poor Richard’s Almanac and Benjamin Franklin was probably one of the earliest brand content marketers.

The way we practice content marketing now, a lot of brands really struggle with that. I gave a talk in London a couple of years ago and there was someone there from Heineken and when I said content marketing his reaction was ‘no one wants to know how we make beer’.

Mark:

Unless you love the beer brand.

Darren:

Well but even then, you make beer pretty much the same way, it’s a universal recipe, there’s modifications on it but the fact that he thought that content marketing and therefore brand storytelling was purely about the way they manufactured a product shows that people just get completely bogged down on a very literal interpretation of story and content.

Mark:

I love it when John Cleese came to content marketing world in Cleveland a few years ago and I was in the audience and he got up on stage, he said he’d been invited to be the speaker, presumably from left field because he got up there and after sort of disparaging Cleveland he got into content marketing and he said, ‘so con-tent marketing’ and from the outside it’s a bit like that right.

What is this, con-tent or content marketing? It’s very easy to be confused if you like, at a surface level.

What’s happened specifically to content marketing over the years, because I again followed this very closely, is that this fragmentation of channels we are experiencing is only getting more fragmented. The tools that we have access to are only growing.

We’ve got AdTech and MarTech stacks seemingly growing in number, volume and complexity and so marketers are really looking for a good strategy for how do I navigate that. Because suddenly I have to interpret that universe internally inside the business and in addition to that I have to deliver a measurable result.

So, it’s actually a very complex task, so in my view if you can get the story narrative right you can know what the brand strategy is, what the brand story is from beginning, middle to end and you can know how that relates to your customers and potential customers.

Then you’ve got a framework for starting to build out, okay now, how are we going to tell that story because quite often we jump too quickly into the telling without thinking about, what actually is the story.

Darren:

You see that a lot. You see storytelling that is actually not a story or it’s a story that doesn’t actually fit the brand or fit the strategy does it? A lot of brands are actually turning increasingly external to get their story told aren’t they? I mean its’ very hard sometimes for people within an organisation to actually see the wood for the trees in what makes a compelling story and a relevant story.

Mark:

So, you mean from an agency perspective?

Darren:

Yeah, well they’re turning to journalists, to agencies, to PR companies to actually help them first of all articulate their story and to actually communicate that.

Mark:

It’s been happening in different ways for quite a few years. I remember back in the Trade press, we use to have advertorial features. So, if you were an advertiser you got to send in your press releases and we’d cobble them together into this special report. Native advertising as we call it today.

Darren:

I hate that word.

Mark:

I know but emotions aside it’s still there and that’s an expression. So, it’s interesting too we got this real influx into the market place of independent freelancers, ex-journalists and so forth through that one channel.

PR companies, social companies, advertising agencies, content marketing agencies, agencies like us which we describe as brand storytelling agencies because we’ve got a system-wide view of how you are telling a story and so the choice then becomes who’s best to help me get the strategy right, who can help me get the execution piece right and thirdly who can help me measure it and prove to my stakeholders, internally and externally that actually this thing is working?

Darren:

There’s a brand story but there’s also a corporate story isn’t there and how often do you find organisations that have a great corporate story that can be extended into being the brand story as well and should the two be the same anyway?

Mark:

You know what’s been amazing to me is just how strong the appetite is at an executive level to get this story piece right.

I’ve been doing workshops and keynotes around this under the Beliefonomics platform, the framework that I’ve developed, and when you talk to CEO’s and boards about what is the narrative for our company ,this is actually what they live and breathe.

Because you’ve known through communication theory there’s really only two lines of communication narratives that go on in a company.

One is what the company says is happening to us and to our customers and the other is what the staff say is going on, right. Ideally you want those two things to be together but they don’t always align. So, when you come to a board or to a CEO and say let’s figure out what really was documented, what this story is, like what was your origin story?

What was the vision that you had? What were the trials and the challenges that you had to overcome and then how did you do that? What was the growth piece; so how did you actually go from these early formative stages, tell us the chapters of it and then finally what’s the destiny story, how have you realised that early vision?

If you haven’t documented that whole piece you haven’t actually documented what your story is. And so, you present that to them and say here’s the steps to document that. It’s incredibly interesting being able to do that because suddenly the creative mind explodes, hang on we haven’t actually told how we came through the adversity to triumph because they are still there so it just hasn’t been told yet.

Or we haven’t actually articulated what our origin story was which is always a hot button. So, if you start with that then you can get to the execution piece.

The marketing and comms industry has been so focused on the execution piece for so long that with the exclusion of brand strategists, we’ve really not given companies an opportunity to dig into, if you like the DNA of their story, so you go there and they’re like okay, you’ve got my attention.

Darren:

It’s really interesting because you find the strongest corporate stories in those organisations where the founder or founders are still in the company and this is why people point to Richard Branson. He was the corporate storyteller, the whole Virgin story from the record shop right through to airlines and into space, is all coming from his narrative.

And then you look at Disney for example because Walt Disney was the storyteller for Disney. When he died, suddenly he left a whole organisation trying to work out, well what would Walt have done rather than understanding the narrative and then interpreting it for the modern era. Because that’s the thing a great narrative, a great corporate brand narrative is something that will persevere through all sorts of changes.

Mark:

Right.

Darren:

Because it goes to often what is very fundamental about the human condition; in the case of Disney it is the wonder of magic. For Virgin it’s rebellion and changing and when you look at all those great brands the founder’s story is always the most powerful because it comes from an individual so it comes from humanity.

Mark:

I’m going to say I’ve been fascinated by this for years, again in Silicon Valley, the time that I spent interviewing the Tech companies, you know the archetypal founded in the garage, whether it’s Apple, or HP. Just to use HP as an example.

Darren:

Another great brand story, ’Hewlett and Packard’

Mark:

Exactly, and the story of them and how they had this fascination for electronics, in the garage also by the way I can’t remember which one of their wives was supporting them, she is kind of the untold part of the story just by the way, more power to her.

But what we call the origin story, how it went from there to this multi-national organisation which actually now is in two parts, consumer and enterprise, but the thing that I found fascinating about the HP story, was that they had this thing you might have heard, called the HP way, right.

Darren:

I was just going to bring that up.

Mark:

And so, the HP way is this framework for identity, for how we do things, and for how we tell our story. It’s an enduring sense of purpose that’s connected if you like this storytelling narrative right. I’m not quite sure why but we seem to have maybe said that’s like a cute interesting aspect like a quirk of nature related to a particular company.

But actually, that HP way exists in every company whether you’ve documented it or not and so the great opportunity I think is to uncover that and how can you get alignment between that narrative and all these different executions?

I think one of the disservices we’ve done in marketing is this campaign mentality where we go from one year to the next, a different series of messaging right, so you are constantly confusing the consumer who thought they understood what your narrative was and now you are saying it’s different.

Darren:

Mark, I think it’s more than just marketing. I think short-termism in business, especially publicly listed companies, when the CEO is almost held to ransom by the shareholders wanting a certain number every quarter. So, it means strategy changes, depending on what the numbers are, you then go down to marketing and corporate affairs that are constantly changing to meet the short-term numbers.

HP are insightful in that it was the founders who had almost like stumbled upon or decided that it was important to capture that. Because at the point where a company floats, you would have seen this with lots of start-ups, as soon as there’s a certain amount of seed money coming in, the investors have more say than the actual founders.

At that point where all it is about is delivering shareholder value and the purpose of why you started in the first place gets completely lost.

Mark:

And again, I’d go back to the core consumer beliefs in your brand. What do they believe about you, and are you messing with that because if you are messing with it, it actually has to be consistent with your story. If you’re either a company that continually changes and you don’t know what it is from one thing to the next, that could be your story, or it’s this pattern of consistent growth which is what most companies want.

You have to make sure that what you are presenting to the market is actually aligned with how people perceive you to be. And I know we’ve been around this block a lot with design thinking and you know the customer experience and all this stuff, it still gets back to that core belief.

I think a great example in Australia is Woolworth’s fresh for people. I haven’t had anything to do with Woolworths or that retail sector but what I loved about that story of course is that it use to be ‘fresh food people’ then it wasn’t for a whole number of seasons and they had to bring it back and why?

I think it’s brilliant from a pure messaging perspective because it depositions the competition by default right, the others are not fresh food people. This story that was in the mind of consumers was ‘I believe I’ll get fresh food from them as well as all the other standard stuff’ right. So why would you give it up?

It’s the same with Nike, every two or three years or so they have to bring back the ‘just do it’ to remind you. By the way I’ve got all these other things going on but don’t forget we are still the ‘just do it’ company.

Darren:

So, I’ve got a theory on these which is, organisations and especially marketers get bored with their story because one they have never articulated it as a story, it’s a strategy and strategies are there to be changed, and two because it’s not a story.

The great thing about a narrative is that you can always add a new chapter to the story that continues the story along and so if you start thinking about corporate strategy and marketing strategy as about building a corporate narrative that talks to all stakeholders, shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, everyone and that your job is to continue that narrative, week in week out, month in month out, forever and remain relevant.

It reminds me of Jim Collin’s book, ‘Built to Last’.

Mark:

Yes.

Darren:

Because he said purpose sits at the centre of that. Now he called it purpose but it could easily be the articulation of that purpose could be the corporate narrative.

Mark:

Yes.

Darren:

Your job is to constantly evolve how that purpose is delivered to remain relevant. Going back to Disney because I love it as a brand, but Walt Disney, it was animations, then it became movies, then it became theme parks. In the 21st century it’s online entertainment, video on demand, games, books, as the number of channels present themselves.

The job of Disney is to find, how do we bring magic into life, into each of those channels?

Mark:

And what I love about Disney too, is that purpose, how to bring happiness into the world. To get back to your other point, is I think marketers don’t actually have any excuse for boredom because if we think about the brand story, that’s one arc, if you like the corporate story but every company has a set of products and services.

So, the story arc of your company is one big long arc and you can tell different aspects to that but within that you have these smaller arcs of products and services that have been rolled out and developed just like Disney right; the theme parks and the movies and the animation, music and so on and so on.

Darren:

But they get tired of the overall narrative like the thing that drives the story. And I’ve seen it in advertising, I’ve seen it in marketing and I’ve seen it corporately. The new CEO comes in, the new CMO comes in, and whoever it is has to put their finger prints all over it. They don’t get that their job is not to change, it’s to improve.

Mark:

They’re either bored with it or don’t get it, right. They don’t get the power of an enduring story. I don’t think there’s any more graphic example of tweaking a formula than what we are seeing with Star Wars right, speaking of Disney, so the great fear of Star Wars fans is what are they going to do with this enduring important franchise?

So, you have different directors coming in with different interpretations à la marketing directors of how the story should grow and evolve and change. And of course, you upset the die-hards, you might bring in some new people, but ostensibly you’re messing with, for better or for worse, a big meta story.

The message for marketers is, do you understand that as a CMO working with the C- suite you have the opportunity to be the director of that story? Even though the consumers, you are as much telling their story as you are your own. To the extent that you can influence it, you’re the director of this narrative.

I think if we lose sight of the importance of that, you’re not going to have as much fun to start with and you’re kind of missing the point about the change and the opportunity you have to grow.

Darren:

Like the change shouldn’t be to the narrative it should be into the story that comes from that narrative.

Mark:

The executions.

Darren:

Right. You look at Levi’s jeans in the 50’s and 60’s it was all about rebellion and then in the 80’s they suffered because oh my god, my dad’s wearing Levi’s jeans, if I’m going to rebel I’ve got to wear something different. What went wrong there?

They had a narrative that they forgot to make contemporary. That’s the thing, it can still be rebellion, it could still be Harley Davison motorcycles, but you’ve got to stay true to that. Every time we’ve seen brands radically change the narrative they go back to zero.

Mark:

Right, well you’ve got Harley because you are buying freedom, it’s like screw the establishment. I’m just going to go out, hit the road and do my own thing.

Darren:

Accept that you’re now thirty something and you are seeing all these 50 and 60 year olds riding Harleys, you’re going, ‘am I really screwing the establishment because that’s my boss riding a Harley’.

Mark:

Yeah, and I think this generational change is an important one right so finding those connection points from an enduring story that are relevant to the new and emerging generation, that’s where the hard works comes around product innovation, those smaller arcs that I spoke about.

Darren:

So maybe it’s hard because you are evolving an existing narrative and so it’s so much easier to just throw it out and start again.

Mark:

Yeah, I think so and again classic baby with the bath water just be careful you don’t just throw them both out.

Darren:

So, you work with a lot of companies I would imagine.

Mark:

Yes.

Darren:

You said that corporately, CEO’s and boards are really interested in articulating their corporate stories.

Mark:

Yes, they are.

Darren:

Do you also find that marketers are inclined to also participate in that or are they off doing their brand stories separately?

Mark:

They are but from a different perspective. The CMO or the head of marketing or the head of comms, there’s a lot of pressure going on and I’ve seen this across a number of organisations, is that you have a lot of things that you are trying to achieve at the same time.

You are trying to keep everybody in the organisation on the same wave length. In many cases you’ve got silos of responsibility and silo budgets, so you’ve got some conflict around that.

You’ve got the internal comms and your external comms and there’s different degrees of pressure on measuring the outcomes of what you are trying to do. So, they are trying to get a lot of things done. In fact, any marketer or comms exec will tell you storytelling is ostensibly fundamental to what they do.

The conversation has to very quickly get into what you can do, when and how. So, you are touching on the strategy but very quickly but like show me, like I haven’t got a lot of time here so show me, when is this going to do something. It’s a different conversation.

Darren:

The reason I’m asking the question is because this whole area is primed for a CMO to take their place at that board level and C-suite level. We’ve done work with quite a few companies and especially in the last three years where we’ve worked with CMO’s and helped them articulate what they started out thinking was a brand story that they had but how to actually broaden that out to a corporate story. How to actually engage the CEO and the CFO and CIO and the CTO and the CCO and everyone else?

Mark:

Yes.

Darren:

In this idea that they started off as a brand story and the way to do it is to stop thinking about story as something for customers and start thinking about it for people.

Mark:

Right.

Darren:

You know, what is the role of this organisation for people, and those people are all different stakeholders.

Mark:

Right and so this is a question of leadership and yes I am working with CMO’s and leaders at that level who do get it and are trying to drive that change. And they’re the best placed to do that. Just referencing the interview we did onstage with Michael Laxton, CMO of Fairfax, when we spoke with him at the Mumbrella event. He thinks we’ve become so data driven as marketers that we’ve lost sight of the value we bring to the board from a creativity perspective.

His message was stop outsourcing your creativity to agencies and others. You have to own that creative piece because it’s the one thing that’s defensible on the board. No one else can do the creative piece. And I would suggest that storytelling fits into the same category.

Darren:

Absolutely, because it’s something a creative marketing person is comfortable talking about. Lawyers are actually very good at storytelling if they’ve ever appeared in court.

Mark:

That’s true.

Darren:

But a lot of those people are not comfortable with the concept of storytelling yet a CMO should be really good at articulating strategy into story because it’s one of the ways you can actually get people to understand what your strategy is.

Mark:

Getting back to another question you asked before; why is storytelling so much more of a hot topic at the moment?

I think we’re moving from people at all levels of an organisation understanding that this idea of storytelling is not an optional extra. It’s not something we tack in but it’s actually the thing we need to get right. It’s at the core of who we are and what we do.

That’s starting to change. Looking ahead I can see more focus on how do we get this greater alignment between the activities that we have in market with our sense of identity and purpose.

Darren:

You mentioned being driven by data. When I talk with the data analysts and data scientists they’ve actually realised that the way to make people understand an insight that comes from data is to tell a story. Just presenting the numbers might work for them but for most people it’s putting that into a story that actually makes that available to them to understand what they’re getting at.

So, you’ve ended up in this category, whether you call it brand story or corporate storytelling it’s phenomenally powerful and becoming more and more relevant because we’re using it to make sense of the complex world we find ourselves in.

Mark:

And that’s a great example of what I call a belief moment. And if you want to move somebody along the journey from unbelief in your brand, company, or story to believe in it, (in other words I really do accept what you’re saying is true and relevant) you’ve got to engage the hearts and minds.

So, what is the emotional connection you can make through a story that engages your audience and then allows you to bring in the rational, data-driven fact side of the story because the research shows that when you connect those two things our entire brain lights up and you get better attention, engagement, and buy-in and so you create that belief moment.

Darren:

It’s our sense-making mechanism. It’s the way we make sense of things. Mark, we’ve run out of time. It’s been great talking to you and some terrific stories but let’s finish on a downer.

What’s the worst brand story you ever heard?

How aligned is your marketing team with your organisation? We bring best-practice thinking to bear in delivery of improved marketing performance. Find out more

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to our newsletter:

Fill out my online form.

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

We're Listening

Have something to say about this article?
Share it with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

Tweet
Share
Share