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February 24, 2009


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Peter Lunn

A simple but spot on post David - thank you. :)


I remember reading about the work of John Seely Brown in the KM lectures at uni. He was an expert at using stories to disseminate knowledge. It's a shame that as we leave childhood we often leave that ability to weave a good tale behind us.

Ron Miller

This is so true, David. My Dad is not an outgoing man, but he spent his work life as a successful real estate salesman because he didn't try to sell houses, he sold himself and people trusted him. There is a similar dynamic on the marketing side. If you try too hard, you sound like you're selling. If you tell good stories about people using your products, you're more of a trusted friend telling another friend a good story. If you sound genuine and use other social networking techniques to build that human connection, it can be very powerful. Thanks for articulating another great idea in such simple terms.

Ron Miller
by Ron Miller Blog

Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

This is one reason why I have emblazoned on the cover of my notebook the following statement:

"What's the story?"

That always stares me in the face whenever I take notes - it's a great thing to remembr.

Ernest Nicastro

Yes, and a big reason for that has to do with the format itself: (1) Stories are concrete, not abstract. That means they're usually told with simple, active sentences which in turn makes them imminently readable and (2) Stories, good stories, involve people emotionally, making them care about the idea.

Probably the greatest example of successful storytelling in marketing is the classic and often imitated print ad by John Caples. I'm referring of course to the famous, "They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano..." ad, originally written in 1926.

Rated by "Advertising Age Magazine" as one of the top 100 advertising campaigns of the 20th Century, "Laughed" pulled in millions of dollars in mail order sales and launched the then 26-year old Caples on his way to a legendary career in advertising. Check out the full text of the ad at http://tinyurl.com/reslp.

Cosmos Creatives

Its interesting, the things we lose focus on a day-to-day basis. The clutter has got so dense that truisms like these easily get lost. Thanks for bringing it back David. Probably your feeds are placed at the top of my igoogle page :)

- Edward J

Dave Rodgerson

Stories are the language of our imagination... I've only met a few people in my life who can look at a profit and Loss (P&L) statement and "see" the story that exists behind the numbers. Business schools need to add storytelling to the cirriculum.

Geno Prussakov

"Stories are exciting. Most marketing is not." - I couldn't agree more. Anything that's fun is exciting and lightens up everyone's marketing (stories, quick trivia quizzes, games, etc).

Dave Rodgerson

Graphs are another way to tell stories that are far too often not done well, or, completely overlooked.For those who are visually wired these can be great storytellers.I've always enjoyed the work of Soni Khatri, a graphic artist for Hearst publications that does some very creative charts each month in the "What you wrote about" section of Esquire Magazine.


Being in sales for a number of years I found stories to be a good way to communicate a message.

Eugenie Verney

Stories are vital threads that run through all our lives from the earliest age. No matter how else we like to dress up what we're doing, what we're generally doing is exchanging stories. In the telling, in the reading, in the watching.

So as David says, the most compelling way to grab and hold anyone's attention is with a good story, simply told. His WWR video (and the e-book of the video) is a fine example of a story well told.

Leonard Cercone

One of the most important elements to telling a good story is making it interesting to the listener. Too many companies write as if THEY are the prospect. Think in terms of trends, challenges and interests of your prospects, not you.

Ted Page

Excellent point on stories. It's also interesting that great storytelling is closely associated with light. Our ancestors gathered around campfires to tell stories. Candles and lanterns illuminated stages in early theater. Roosevelt's radio broadcasts were "fireside chats". Movies are light shining through film. TVs cast light, and now people gather around computer screens to watch videos. So we're getting "enlightened" when we hear a good story.

Jason Kouri

Stories, or testimonies as they sometimes are called, are more difficult to deny as they are personal and denying them is like calling the storyteller a liar. Stories are fun and often humorous and everyone loves a good laugh! The best ideas are always simple aren't they? Great article.

Samantha Meemken

Great article and so it's so true. Storytelling is all about entertaining, informing, or inpiring them—it's not about you.


So true.. Marketing has evolved so much, so fast. People are averse to constant hammering of sales pitches..



I study marketing in Sweden and while we have been discussing modern media (blogs, wikis etc.) vs traditional marketing - storytelling is a subject that have not been adressed. We had a few lectures from PR agencies and reporters but their focus have been on when to send a pressrelease, where to and content. And while content is crucial still, presentation is key. I loved this post and all of the comments - made me think twice about an actual pressrelease I've just written.


So true. I recently blogged about two charitable organizations that took radically different approaches in telling their story.

The first begins with "URF/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-charity (Tax ID: 20-41181xx) founded in 2005..."

But look at how the other begins: "Each night in northern Uganda, tens of thousands of terrified children leave their villages at dusk and walk to town to avoid being kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army..."

In a recent workshop, we "gave" each participant $1,000 and told them to vote their dollars based on effectiveness of each charity's messages - 70% gave their "dollars" to the second charity.

Yes, effective messages CAN impact revenues!

Jeff Krueger

This holds true for job searchs, resumes, interviews and dating. Can a resume, list of accomplishments, or bragging about accomplishments really tell your story? I think not.

April Turner

Storytelling was the origial method to educate and inform. Thanks for highlighting the need to get back to communicating this way. It is great to find that stories are increasingly in vogue with the creative marcom folks. On the more technical PM side, use cases have given way to user stories for guiding development in Agile teams, and they work very, very well.


I feel so passionately about the power of story. I really believe it holds the heart of learning and growing. I am so lucky that I have a job I love, I use the practice of Graphic Facilitation (www.idea-360.com) in helping huge organizations tell their stories. The ideas and conversations are captured LIVE as they emerge- talk about an ah-ha moment. These story maps become the group memory of the heart of the story they want to convey. I think they hold and remind the team what the heart of the message is and then the story stays real and the marketing gets to do it's job in retelling it over and over again.


Michael Procopio

Do you have any pointers on how to become a better story teller?

David Meerman Scott


A few quick thoughts:

1. Develop stories for your audience, not your own ego.

2. Make them short. If you need to fill more space, tell more than one.

3. Use conflict like a novelist or a film maker.

4. Humor works, but it's not the only tool.

5. When you have fun telling a story, the audience reacts well.



Thanks for this information. I have recently switched departments at work and have struggled going from to-the-point writing to marketing writing. I am going to try this technique.


Right, I am using that principle tied together with online video. I create short videos to tell an interesting story that teases the viewer to follow a link to my site. My traffic from doing this has recently spiked when I started posting to http://www.Adwido.com because of the keywords they specifically target to increase targeted visitors. Plus they're accounts are free.

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