Unlike other companies that struggle to create compelling stories, Autodesk’s content marketing team wrestles with prioritizing an abundance of exciting topics to write about at the intersection of design, technology, and innovation.
Go behind the scenes at a content powerhouse. Autodesk sells 3D-design, -engineering, and -entertainment software. It provides the tool kit that designers, architects, engineers, developers, artists, and even hobbyists use to create masterworks in their respective fields. Given this, Autodesk is in the enviable position of having not just one or two exciting topic areas to write about but many dozens of possibilities. From futuristic automotive design and sustainable urban infrastructure, to 3D-modeling and digital special effects in the entertainment industry — it’s an editor’s dream of compelling content topics.
This neural coupling only happens if teller and listener share the same context or “have common ground.” I don’t think analyzing your audience is the same as feeling solidarity with your audience. The stories that flow from solidarity enable much deeper connections – like a dance the storyteller both leads and follows. Placing yourself firmly in an empathetic relationship with those you wish to influence may inspire higher levels of engagement, too.
Storytelling that is crafted strategically will build the memories you want to leave with your readers and listeners.
And it doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking, tear-jerking, Oscar-worthy tale. I love this quote from storyteller extraordinaire, Kindra Hall, “You don’t have to make someone cry. You just have to make them see the story and imagine themselves in it.”
This is because storytelling is tactile. Stories help people see, hear, taste, smell, and feel your message.
In my mind there is not a more powerful – and more underused – medium than the documentary film. Brands rarely take on artistically complex video projects because they require a level of creative and technical talent that most brands (and even many of the agencies that serve them) don’t have access to. Of course there are some that pull it off beautifully. Brands like Patagonia are master documentary storytellers. These brands are immersed in the visual world and have a clear point of view to share with their audiences.
What about brands that don’t have such a rich source of stories to pull from? Or brands you would not associate with artistic film projects? What can we learn from the projects they launch?
In an interview with Adweek, Emily Fink, Liberty Mutual’s Vice President of Digital and Social, said, “Insurance isn’t the most high-engagement story, so it’s an opportunity for us to use 360 video to help us tell our brand story.”
As the lead researcher and indeed, creator of the field of neural and cognitive science of story, he is on the front wave of discovering the catalytic power of story and how it can be used to influence, persuade, and change.
He’s also the award-winning author of two books, “Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story” and “Story Smart: Using the Science of Story to Persuade, Inspire, Influence, and Teach.”
During our discussion — as we commiserated about how physicians and nurses are glued to their computer screens nowadays, clicking boxes, and typing away furiously on their keyboards — he said something that struck a chord. He said, “You know what Suneel, the stories have really gone from medicine.”
What did he mean by this? He elaborated, and we continued talking. In a nutshell, what he meant was that in the past, every patient was a story. A unique person. A human being. This patient was well known to their personal physician, whom they usually had a good and strong relationship with. Even when documenting information in a hospital, when a physician saw a patient (regardless of whether that physician already knew the patient), there would be a story that would appear on the computer or in the chart in the form of a transcribed letter. This was either a history and physical report or a discharge summary. It would take the form of a narrative, in proper English with logical paragraphs and sentence construction, and tell you all about what was wrong with the patient, their individual history, and the diagnosis and treatment plan.
It’s Simpler Than You Think John Yorke is a Golden Globe Award-winning producer and business storytelling consultant in addition to being the founder of the BBC’s Writer’s Academy and the author of “Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey Into Story.”
“Into the Woods” dissects the common underlying narrative of some of the most historically successful stories across drama, philosophy, business, and politics, and takes the work of our favorite authors here at the Business of Story one step further.
From his extensive expertise in the world of television and drama, John shares the tools he has identified and developed during his thirty year career that business leaders can implement to create a stunning, simple, and successful narrative.
One of the more disturbing trends in robotics is how often some researchers gloss over the moral complexities of AI by suggesting Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” will be sufficient to handle any ambiguities robots encounter. This only serves to demonstrate how unfamiliar many technologists are with the depth of the issue, for as a closer reading of Asimov’s work reveals, the three laws of robotics leave plenty of room for disastrous outcomes.
There are encouraging signs, however, that at least some other researchers are taking the problem seriously. Two figures leading the charge in this direction are Mark Riedl and Brent Harrison of Georgia Institute of Technology. They are pioneering a system called Quixote, by which an artificial intelligence learns “value alignment” by reading stories from different cultures.
As it turns out, there may be a way, and it’s not so different from how humans learn the values particular to the region they grow up in: by telling stories to each other. The fables and legends particular to a locale are frequently laced with moral directives that provide clues to a growing child on what constitutes morally acceptable behavior in their culture. The idea behind Quixote is that the same principles can be applied to shaping robot behavior.
What Is Your Brand’s Personality? What are archetypes?
As the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung classified them, archetypes are a universal and subconscious concept, “images that are integrally connected to the individual by the bridge of emotions.”
Margaret Hartwell is well-versed in Jung’s psychology of archetypes and she brings her expertise to the Business of Story to apply this psychology to brand initiatives, creation, maintenance, and reinvention.
As you can see from our resources section, these universal character archetypes have proven to be incredibly powerful in influencing the story of various brands in the world.
Margaret shares how business leaders can bring these archetypes to life so that they are empathetic and so that we as consumers have an authentic connection that humanizes the brands in our lives.
What Makes a Hero? Each week, we invite a new guest to help us break down the story cycle and its origins in Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” so that listeners can use these tools when crafting brand stories, marshalling the troops in their companies, and understanding their customers’ journeys.
In furthering that mission, we welcome Matthew Winkler, educator, author, and creator of the TED-Ed Talk, “What makes a hero?” which went viral with over 1.5 million views on YouTube.
Matthew and Park unpack the story cycle and show you how to overcome your most difficult challenges to live the hero’s journey in your own life.
Simple Yet Compelling Storytelling Kathy Klotz-Guest is an expert at helping business professionals become better storytellers for their companies.
With a resume steeped in Silicon Valley culture, you may believe Kathy to be a specific kind of marketer. But for a while, she led a dual life working as marketing director and consultant during the day and moonlighting as an improv comedian on evenings and weekends.
Have you identified your personal, authentic story? How about the story of your brand? Are your eyes and ears fine-tuned enough that you’ve begun to notice the stories that are constantly happening around you every minute of the day?
Christoph Trappe is a career storyteller. He began as a journalist and developed his story, becoming a keynote speaker, blogger, and content marketing strategist. He currently helps hospitals throughout the United State share their stories, and in 2015 was named the IMA’s Internet Marketer of the Year. He is the author of the book, “Get Real: Telling Authentic Stories for Long-term Success,” and he joins the Business of Story Podcast to reveal his key strategies to become more confident in clarifying your authentic story.
Doug Drexler is the first Academy, Oscar, and Emmy Award Winning story artist to join us on the Business of Story Podcast.
As a master visual storyteller and one of the FX and makeup geniuses behind operations such as “Dick Tracy,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and ”Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Doug knows his way around the storytelling realm of Hollywood.
Today we tap into his keen visual expertise to better understand the elusive ability to influence clients and customers by crafting game changing visual stories.
Maximize your visual presentations by understanding the psychology behind visual storytelling, the tools at your disposal, and how to use your innated visual storytelling powers for good.
As every business leader and speaker knows, identifying a story that will work to unify your troops or sway your customers is easier said than done. More often than not, storytellers hit a wall, or fear they have nothing to draw on.
Enter Shawn Callahan, the Founder of Melbourne-based storytelling company, Anecdote, and author of the new book, “Putting Stories to Work.”
Shawn identifies as a sort of corporate anthropologist, helping companies hone in on their oral storytelling practices to initiate change within their organizations. He has also crafted tools and techniques to remember key stories, keep them fresh and engaging, and to replace them when they become tired.
Want to learn how to mine your personal life for engaging, motivating stories? Shawn is your man.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer rocked our world, and it remains one of the all-time greatest TV shows. The story of a fated vampire-hunter who tries to live a normal life in high school, Buffy still has few worthy successors. And it has so much to teach us about good writing.
Nick brings his expertise in branding, social media, and marketing to the Business of Story Podcast to discuss the realities of coping with an ever-changing digital landscape, and how brands must employ the power of storytelling to create unique and recognizable identities across digital platforms.
Make ‘Em Laugh What’s the one thing that business leaders forget when crafting their brand identity and business stories?
A little lightheartedness can go a long way when forging connections with your consumer base, and who better to learn this skill from than the Social Media Lead of The Onion, “America’s finest news source”?
Eric Munn heads up the social programming at Onion Labs, the in-house advertising agency of The Onion. The Labs are an independent off-shoot of the company and lead their social practices and partner campaigns.
Eric works with companies who seek to create viral, humorous content, and surprise their consumer base with a laugh. Another advantage of these projects is that the satirical style mastered by the writers of The Onion’s news articles also appears in advertising content, to the great delight of The Onion’s considerable fan base. Thus, brands get to expand their network and reach while having a whole lot of fun.
I am super passionate about what I do in the world of telling business and marketing stories. If you read my stuff and know me, you know I am a storytelling nerd from both the business and improv stages—and proudly!
I love that storytelling is experiencing a “corporate Renaissance” across business, social media, social entrepreneurism, and executive communications. Storytelling is so much bigger than marketing. It’s the foundation of how companies communicate who they are in the world and what they stand for. A resurgence is a great thing, and storytelling itself—the original social medium for humans—is evolving in the business world. That is a great thing.
In doing my work, in chatting with fellow story practitioners and branding execs, and in doing research for a book to be published later this year, I’ve stumbled upon what I believe (and am already experiencing) the next wave of storytelling will look like. Much of it involves getting out of the way, empowering others, and thinking bigger.
Here are seven ways to jump on that next wave and reinvigorate your organization’s storytelling for more successful marketing this year.
As the longtime host of The Moth podcast and its New York-based StorySLAMs, Dan Kennedy certainly knows a good story when he hears it. Kennedy has spent the last 16 years performing his own work and listening to others share theirs, whether it’s during The Moth’s prepared main stage events or its looser, put-your-name-in-a-hat slams.
“[During] the first story I told on the main stage, I had long bangs that I let down in front of my eyes,” Kennedy says. “I was hunched over at the mic, and I was mumbling a story that I thought was very funny.”
He adds, “At some point there was a huge laugh, and I don’t really know if it was because of the story, or if it was, ‘Oh my god, why is this guy getting onstage?’ But I felt the comfort of that laugh, and I just remember thinking, 'All right. I might have to keep doing this just to be sane.'”
Recently, I asked Kennedy to share a few tips for anyone who aspires to be a better storyteller, whether it’s in front of five people at a bar or 500 in a sold-out theater. Those who follow his advice just might become addicted to the process, too:
For every startup that succeeds, many more fail. But what is it that makes the difference between a successful company, and one that just doesn’t quite hit the mark?
Bernadette Jiwa uncovers that and more in her new book, Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly. According to Jiwa, many companies miss an essential opportunity to focus on the customer story and what they want, and instead focus on the story that they want to tell.
Jen Grisanti may have a phenomenal résumé, but she will be the first to tell you that it is the result of a lot of hard work and yes, a few pitfalls along the way.
These failures, however, are an aspect of the human condition and Jen firmly believes that at the confluence of storytelling and business, entrepreneurs need to come clean about their failures and share them with their audience.
Gregg Morris's insight:
If you haven't read her book, Story Line, do so as soon as you can. A wonderful read.
Today, every marketer understands the value of story as a way to sell just about anything. But, still, few understand the right way to use story and narrative as a way to guide people on the perfect journey.
This is due in large part to the fact that it takes some skill, a bit of hard work and perhaps, more importantly, patience. A great story has many significant elements and to have the greatest impact each element must be built in a certain order – much like the foundation of a house must be laid before the walls and roof have a place to stand.
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