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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is Your Marketing Telling A Story

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today's post is taken from a recent article by Scott Schwertly... the art of storytelling. If your marketing isn't telling a story, then it's not doing what it was intended to.

Were you bored with your last keynote speaker? Did they motivate and change lives? Perhaps, they ended lives. That’s why you need to tell stories. You have probably heard the quote: “Tell me a fact and I’ll remember it. Tell the truth and I’ll believe it. Tell me a story and I’ll put it in my heart forever.” Stories are an incredible tool that is often abused in our culture today. Unfortunately, presenters don’t know how to tell or use stories to their advantage. As presenters, here is our biggest challenge: telling an epic story – a story that will surprise, delight, and most importantly – will be memorable. The greatest lessons come from Hollywood.

The Story Club

In John Hughes’ classic, The Breakfast Club, he highlights five high school students, all from different backgrounds, who come together only to discover they have a lot more in common than they imagined. The same holds true with storytelling. There are many styles, all with a lot in common. In fact, the great Hollywood screenwriter Robert McKee illustrates that there are 25 types of stories. Don’t get overwhelmed. I have narrowed it down to three to help you, the presenter. Below are my recommendations the next time you build a presentation introduction.

The Rockstar

Think about the classic hero story- a man or woman is given a challenge and then often turns away only to embrace it and save the world. That’s the Rockstar – the hero that everyone cheers for with tenacious excitement. You can probably think of a few of these Rockstars with little effort – Rocky Balboa, Louis Skolnick of Lambda Lambda Lambda, and Elle Woods.

The Maverick

Mavericks are those stories of individuals who literally change the world. They are the dreamers who stand up against all odds to impact lives, to make a difference, to change the world. This list of individuals includes names like
MLK, JFK, Mother Teresa, and Ghandi. They are the rulebreakers – the men and women who changed this planet.

The She

This is the classic problem/solution approach. Typically containing two characters, this approach is ideal for business presentations. Think Disney. Better yet, how about the Fighting Rancho Carne Toros and the East Compton Clovers from "Bring It On." One team competed the right way – hard work and diligence. The other did it the wrong way – hiring a choreographer to learn “Spirit Fingers” and a secondhand routine to the once popular “Get Ready for This” by 2Unlimited.

SuperGood: Make Your Story McLovin

Here are three R's that I have created that illustrate how you can make your next presentation SuperGood. Using these approaches will even make Fogell stand out from a crowd.


Stories have always existed, will always be around, and they will be repeated over and over again. This is because they contain nuggets of wisdom that people cherish, crave to hear, and be reminded of on a daily, weekly, month, or annual basis. Think about it. There are really no new stories. They are just retold by different people in different ways. Just look around you… Frodo, Luke Skywalker, William Wallace - all of these heroes faced the same challenges. Their stories just a have a different twist or storyline. Thus, stories will always exist. Period.

Not only are stories repeated but great stories contain repetition.

Most SNL fans remember Chris Farley’s infamous character, Matt Foley: the motivational speaker who lived in a van down by the river. The script is a perfect example of the beauty of repetition.

Well, you'll have plenty of time to live in a van down by the river when you're..[ tries to be clever ] in a van down by the river! Now, you kids are probably asking yourself, "Hey, Matt, how can we get back on the right track?!" Well, as I see it, there is only one solution! And that is for me to get my gear, move it on into here, 'cause I'm gonna bunk with you, buddy! We're gonna be buddies! We're gonna be pals![ picks Brian up ] We're gonna wrassle around! [ puts Brian down ] Ol' Matt's gonna be your shadow! [motions] Here's Matt, here's you! There's Matt, there's you! [ trips and falls flat on the coffee table, sending it crashing to the floor ] Whoops-a-daisy! [ stands up ] We're gonna have to clean that up later! Me and my buddies! My pals! My amigos! I'm gonna go get my gear! [ heads for the door ]

Such a simple a script, but the concept of friends, buddies, and down by the river are what make it
so memorable.


When exiting a local grocery store one evening, I saw a great bumper sticker on a car parked next to mine. It simply stated: "The shortest distance between two people is a story." That's powerful stuff!

Remember these two items the next time you start constructing a story. This is an approach that is encouraged by CEO of Parade magazine, Walter Anderson. Great stories are built off these main principles. Your story needs to have:

1) Tension - You need to create a problem. There needs to be some type of dramatic hook.

2) Discovery - This is the reason why you are telling the story. What is everything leading up to?

In essence, it’s all about the power of the anecdote – leading from one point to the next. Keep in mind,the best anecdotes are the most simple.

It’s amazingly captivating. The story builds from one point to the next. It doesn’t hurt that the character of Buddy is easy to love. After all, he would like to do nothing more than build snow angels for two hours and then snuggle.

Good news! We are all storytellers. You have stories. Your parents have stories. Your grandparents have stories. Your company even has a story. You should have plenty to write about, so what are you waiting for? Don’t be a cotton-headed ninnymuggins! Start writing. Maybe one day you’ll have book published about your own story just like Buddy the Elf.


Storytelling produces results. It will change and grow your business. Here is the bottom line. (Highlight this or write it down somewhere. It’s the heart of this article):

Stories create emotions. Emotions create motivation. Motivation creates action. Action creates results.

Repeat. Reveal. Revamp. These three R's will change the way you look at storytelling and your presentations moving forward.

So what are you waiting for? Go tell a story or suffer the consequences for procrastinating. Here’s a great quote from Stewie from Family Guy to help light
your fire:

Stewie: “How you uh, how you comin' on that [story] you're working on? Huh? Gotta a big, uh, big stack of papers there? Gotta, gotta nice litte story you're working on there? Your big novel you've been working on for 3 years? Huh? Gotta, gotta compelling protaganist? Yeah? Gotta obstacle for him to overcome? Huh? Gotta story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh? (voice getting higher pitched) Yea, talking about that 3 years ago. Been working on that the whole time? Nice little narrative? Beginning, middle, and end? Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends? At the end your main character is richer from the experience? Yeah? Yeah? (voice returns to normal) No, no, you deserve some time off.”

Be different than your competition. For starters, begin today. Second, go tell an epic story with your next presentation.

About the Author:
Scott Schwertly is an epic storyteller. Scott works with a wide spectrum of clients that includes Fortune 100 companies, Silicon Valley start-ups, and various other organizations throughout the world. Scott is also the author of an awarding-winning blog – PresentationRevolution: Revolutionizing Presentations Through Storytelling - as well as a Top 100 manifesto. Scott has a B.A. in Communications and an M.B.A. from Harding University. Today, Scott owns and operates Ethos3 Communications at


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