How Chevrolet’s Ads Played It “Safe” & Failed a Safety Story

Chevrolet had me at “safety.” Sure, it was a print magazine ad, but the topic of safety has become increasingly important to me. The started with “safety” and then added “story,” and I wanted to know more.

It may seem odd to talk about a print advertisement on my blog about digital content marketing, but it’s not at all. Content strategy needs to connect the dots across all channels — print and digital alike — to ensure the best possible user experience. Continue reading

Binge Watching for Storytellers

I’m a media binge watcher. From recent stats, it is apparent that you may be too. We are, as a culture in love with stories, but we’re not in love with waiting around.

Actually, let’s clarify that…we’re binging on good stories. And, of course, we are putting some level of trust and faith in the audacity of the storyteller. We’re crossing our fingers (and our legs on the couch) in the hopes that the story we’re watching, reading, hearing is going to end as well as it started. We’re hoping that the story creators have thought this story line through and know how to make this all worth our while.

Short-form videos require less commitment, so we are faster to forgive weak storytelling. A 6-second Vine video requires less time away from our family, friends, and career, so we don’t care if it’s not a great story. In that case, good enough is good enough. Continue reading

Conflict Is Story: What It Means for Marketing Storytellers

Conflict by Joe Kalinowski

Conflict is story. Graphic by Joe Kalinowski based on a photo by Gianluca Ramalho Misiti.

Without conflict, there is no story. It is conflict that defines the story.

Whenever a writer is sharing a story idea with me, I’m listening for the conflict. Specifically, what is preventing the main character from reaching a specific, desired goal. And whenever a marketer references the brand “storytelling,” I’m listening for the same things. Let’s explore…

Without conflict, the story is just a setup. It may be an anecdote or even a nice scenario, but ultimately, great (heck, even good) stories require some sort of conflict. And lest we think this applies only to fiction, this is also relative to brand stories told in marketing. Read on…

Let’s start with a story example. Everyone loves zombies, so let’s make this a story set in the zombie apocalypse. Now, consider your main character Bob. What does Bob want? Does he want to win the zombie-slaying trophy? If so, why? What will winning the trophy be?

It doesn’t matter if Bob is from present day or from the future (a guy from the future fighting zombies is a nice setup!). All that really matter is that Bob wants something and why he wants it can be clearly defined.

There are lots of different theories on story conflicts, but many educators agree there are generally four types of conflict. (Meta irony: Someone will disagree with this.) These are conflicts that work both in fiction, non fiction, and marketing stories.

The four types of conflict: Continue reading

Three Steps to a Better Presentation & Story

PowerPoint Logo 2008 Mac

Precondition your audience at the start of your presentation.

If you’re delivering a business pitch, you are trying to share an idea that the client will want to buy. That means it needs to be memorable. As a presenter, you need to make sure that your future client knows what the heck you are trying to say.

Don’t just tell them that you’re good at delivering a powerful message. Prove it in your presentation.

Here’s a good piece of advice for making presentations memorable, which I learned from my friend and co-worker, John Spingler (aka Sping).

Here are three basic steps to delivering a memorable pitch and marketing story:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you just told them.

Sounds really simple, right?

But if you’ve ever suffered through a dull PowerPoint presentation and wondered “where is this going?” then you know that delivering a clear message isn’t so simple. When a presentation lacks focus, it’s hard for your listener to remain focused. Continue reading