Story or die

By jer979!! | | 30 Apr 2021

tl;dr: the most important skill in marketing anything.

Someone said to me recently, “you know marketing comes down to just two things. Storytelling and analytics.”

I thought this was as elegant as it gets because it’s true and it encapsulates the unique “whole mind” that the discipline requires.

On the one hand, the left side of the brain draws on the emotional strings to tell a story in which the prospect or customers sees herself as the hero of a future version of her own life, enabled by your product or service.

On the other hand, it draws on the right side of the brain by requiring the storyteller to assess, based on measurable results (pipeline, sales, conversion rates, whatever) how effectively she told that version of the story.

I’m relatively decent with analysis and consider Pivot Tables to be one of the greatest inventions of all time.

When it comes to storytelling, I think I still need a lot of work.

So, with a nod to my mother-in-law who got it for me, I’ve been working my way through “Story or Die” by Lisa Cron.

While I still think that “Made to Stick” by the Heath brothers is the all-time great in the category of understanding good storytelling and All Marketers are Liars is right up there, Cron does bring some fresh thinking to the topic for me.

The “money” quote for me is when she writes:

“A story isn’t about what happens in the world. A story is about what happens in the mind of the protagonist.”

and she goes further…..

“A story is about how an unavoidable external problems forces the protagonist to change internally in order to solve it.”

People buy from people (until the AIs truly take over) and people like hearing stories about and from other people.

We can empathize with others when we hear about “how she responded to Covid” or “how he responded to divorce” because we can imagine these external problems, put ourselves in the place of the other person, and then think about how we might or might not have responded…and compare it to how we hear about how the protagonist did.

The theory of storytelling is relatively easy to understand. Consistently putting it in practice is, I find, rather difficult.

However, like any other practice, be it blogging or meditation, one can get better through a regular commitment to it.

As Seth Godin (I think) said, “people buy emotionally and they justify logically.”

Stories are what trigger the emotional buy.

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