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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Storytelling in Business: Ardath Albee & Contagious Content

MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2011: Storytelling in Business: Ardath Albee & Contagious Content
I've only just started my MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2011 experience with a full day in Ardath Albee's Contagious Content Marketing: How to Plan, Create, and Use it to Catch and Qualify Buyers workshop and already my brain is on fire. Ardath has brought to life the notion of storytelling in business and I can't get enough of it!

Ardath makes the following points about storytelling in business:

Storytelling humanizes content.

Stories are how we justify everything that happens in our lives.

If marketing is more like storytelling, we can count on more engagement from potential customers.

A story represents a narrative that educates, entertains, and engages.

A story should always be told from the buyer's perspective.

More specifically, the beginning of the story is about the buyer, who becomes aware of a problem, and feels pain escalates.

The middle of the story is about seeing resolution, encountering obstacles, and finding expertise.

In the end, the buyer overcomes challenges, solves problems, and emerges as hero of the story.

To put storytelling into context, "Story gives people enough space to think for themselves." Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor (2nd Revised Edition).

Business stories need 7 story elements:

1. characters: hero, villain, mentor [hero = buyer] [villain = problem, e.g., stakeholders or an obstacle in the way] [mentor shares information, guidance = you!]

2. setting: vertical, problem, culture [will be specific to environment]. Context motivates engagement.

3. Plot and theme. This brings in your Persona’s [aka hero's] value proposition:  I need to ____ in order to ______. [For example, I need to improve product development in order to reduce time to market. I need to make employees happier in order to improve talent retention.]

4. Conflict – who must the hero convince, what has the villain caused, what obstacles must the hero overcome. Need to address all sources of conflict.

5. Climax – will it be the status quo or change? Will deals stagnate might they move forward?

6. Resolution – where buyer has overcome obstacles

7. Dialogue – the words used and how tell story.

Imagine putting your customer's issues into storytelling terms... Wild, don't you think? At the same time, it really makes you carefully consider - and appreciate - what your customer goes through and inspired you to come up with more relevant solutions to their problems.

For more perspective, listen to Ardath Albee's recent keynote at DemandCon. The video embedded on her site includes sections about Using Storytelling and the 7 Elements of Business Stories. Click on the video link, listen to Ardath's brief introduction, then click on Watch a Segment. From there, you can select the segments I mention - or listen to all of them.

Having internalized Storytelling in Business, I'd love to hear how you might incorporate it into your business and your content marketing...

Note: Thank you, Ardath!
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