Chris Brogan knows how to spin a good yarn. His weekly email newsletter nearly always starts with some kind of personal anecdote. But, more important, he knows how to incorporate "good yarns" into business communication in a way that enhances knowledge transfer, inspires action, and achieves specific goals.
I invited Chris to Marketing Smarts to talk about his StoryLeader approach, and how leaders can use business storytelling to help their teams execute better and create more aligned messaging based on a set of core stories.
Check it out on this special video edition of Marketing Smarts (or download the audio file—whichever you prefer)!
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation.
We all know that storytelling is important, but not necessarily how to apply it to our business (03:10) "We are told so often that business storytelling matters. We're told that marketing storytelling matters. We're told in every aspect of our life that story's important. We all say, 'Yes, totally, absolutely.' But what we also really mean is, 'I don't really know what that means.' Just like when someone says, 'You should eat healthy,' everyone says, 'Yes.' About zero people say, 'I eat at Wendy's every night and I'm just going to go that way.'
"So, with StoryLeader, I wanted to put a few pieces around 'what do we really mean,' 'how could we really use this.' My subtitle to this is, 'Leaders use stories to do the heavy lifting.' And the point is that, it seems like a lot of times we use stats to tell stories or we ask people to do things for our business. We give instructions, but not really the 'spirit of the law,' so to speak,' just the letter [of the law]. I know we're talking marketing, but I'm also talking leadership.
"Internal and external to companies, we need to have a new way of understanding stories, a new way of receiving them for this very distracted world, and we need to start to use them a little bit more intelligently."
Use stories to show people they belong at your organization (08:18) "For business storytelling, I break all stories down into three types: mission stories (which is, 'Let's teach the MarketingProfs people what they do'), belonging stories (which are, 'You belong here, you belong with us, we are the type of people who...' kind of stories), and growth stories (every motivational speaker has a growth story, and also growth as in learning).
"So belonging stories can be inclusive stories. 'You should meet Ann, all these incredible women we have here at MarketingProfs, we are such a women-positive entity.' That's an important story to be telling. 'You should understand that we don't look at marketing from the perspective of big agency or small agency; we look at it from the rudimentaries of building the marketplace.' That's important. Showing people where they belong.
"What it isn't and should never be is, 'This is for everybody.' The only one who can get away with that is Stefon. This place doesn't have everything. This place just has the things we need. And you have to be as specific as you can be. Some of the new marketing, 2020 and beyond, is unintentionally exclusionary. Not any particular race, color, or creed, but just to make sure people know 'this is really who we want and this is who we'd serve the best,' and allow people to better self-select."
Chris and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.
Chris Brogan, president at Chris Brogan Media, offering business storytelling and marketing advisory help for midsize-to-larger companies. Chris is a sought-after keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling author of nine books and counting. He’s working on his tenth, as well as an updated edition of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust, co-written with Julien Smith. Follow Chris on Twitter at @chrisbrogan.