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The 10 Functions of Storytelling

June 12, 2018 by Carla Johnson Storytelling gets too much credit and not enough appreciation. And that’s because people don’t really understand it, much less how to use it. Storytelling comes down to two things – connection and engagement. And when we look at it from this perspective, we have many more opportunities to use storytelling to create influence, affect …

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What “It’s a Wonderful Life” Teaches Us About B2B Branding

December 21, 2017 By Carla Johnson Sally Hogshead teaches people and brands how to be fascinating. I love her approach to branding because how many people would describe our companies as fascinating? Few. The other day she wrote a story about the holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Released in 1946, it tells the story of an angel sent from …

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Storytelling Will Never Work Without This One Thing

September 14, 2017 by Carla Johnson Twenty years hasn’t faded Jayson Zoller’s memory much. At least when it came to one of his biggest learnings. When Jayson was in college, his professor told him a story that remains vivid even two decades later. In a previous class, the professor explained, a group of students had an unusual project working for …

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Pitch Perfect: Why Great Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Don’t

September 7, 2017 by Carla Johnson None of us got into B2B marketing to do boring work. Let’s think about our first jobs; we were fresh out of college…a bright-eyed, 22-year old excited about changing the world. Maybe we started working for a boron mining company and we had fabulous ideas! We were going to do things that the mining …

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What the GRAMMYS Can Teach B2B Marketers About Customer Experience

August 31, 2017 by Carla Johnson Beyoncé. U2. Bruce Springsteen. Tony Bennett. Yo-Yo Ma. Chick Corea. These are just a few of the thousands of music creators recognized by the GRAMMYs since its inception in 1957. And a handful of the 22 top winners in GRAMMY history. The GRAMMYs are the one night a year set aside to honor the …

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6 Tips to Infuse Storytelling into Digital Marketing

August 15, 2017 by Carla Johnson John Montagu loved to play cards. As a British politician, an aristocrat and the 4th Earl of Sandwich he ran into a problem. He loved snacking while playing cards but the cuisine of the time left his hands greasy from eating meat with his bare hands. In 1748, he ordered his valet to bring him …

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7 Steps to Contextually Relevant Customer Experiences

July 4, 2017 by Carla Johnson There’s an unequivocal connection between brand stories and customer experiences. Companies that don’t have a solid narrative in place are the ones guilty of creating ad hoc, schizophrenic experiences. The kinds that leave people hanging, wanting to take the next step, but there’s no path to follow. We’ve seen great companies make the transition …

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34 of the Best Non-Marketing Books for Marketers

May 30, 2017 by Carla Johnson A few weeks ago, Jay Acunzo asked me how I felt travel affects creativity. He certainly hit a hot button for me, because when people ask me where my best ideas come from I tell them, “on the road.” But then he asked, “But if people can’t travel, where do they get great ideas?” …

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Do You Remember Your First Kiss?

May 18, 2017 by Carla Johnson First kiss. I remember mine. It was 7th grade. A brief chapped-lip peck that was awkward for both of us – like so many things during those middle school years of transition when you’re no longer a kid but not quite a young adult. But I will always remember my first kiss because of …

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Digitization or Integration: What’s Marketing’s Holy Grail?

May 11, 2017 by Carla Johnson One of the primary drivers of change for businesses in the last decade has been digital transformation. But with the shift to a heavy digital-first experience, marketers have neglected the bigger picture: creating a connected, integrated and seamless experience for customers who bounce between online and real-world interactions with brands. When we look at …

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Digitization or Integration: What’s Marketing’s Holy Grail?

May 11, 2017 by Carla Johnson One of the primary drivers of change for businesses in the last decade has been digital transformation. But with the shift to a heavy digital-first experience, marketers have neglected the bigger picture: creating a connected, integrated and seamless experience for customers who bounce between online and real-world interactions with brands. When we look at …

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Building a B2B Brand Starts with Stories, Not Standards

April 20, 2017 by Chris Schermer As a B2B marketing agency, SCHERMER often gets asked to do “branding.” Typically, it’s marketers who want help with their brand positioning, messaging and identity so that they can create more consistent and compelling communications. These initiatives generally spawn a standards manual, website and marketing campaign, but not truly complete and compelling brand experiences …

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Building a B2B Brand Starts with Stories, Not Standards

April 20, 2017 by Chris Schermer As a B2B marketing agency, SCHERMER often gets asked to do “branding.” Typically, it’s marketers who want help with their brand positioning, messaging and identity so that they can create more consistent and compelling communications. These initiatives generally spawn a standards manual, website and marketing campaign, but not truly complete and compelling brand experiences …

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Hearts or Minds, Which Do You Want?

March 30, 2017 by Carla Johnson Elliot was a good husband and father. Then he began to complain of headaches and seemed to lose his concentration and sense of responsibility. He took a battery of psychological tests, but they showed nothing. Elliot was coherent and smart with a near-flawless memory. He was referred to Antonio Damasio, head of neurology at …

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If LEGO Built Your Brand Experience, What Would It Look Like?

March 9, 2017 by Carla Johnson Marketers love massively creative work. We hype Super Bowl ads. We study the most innovative companies. And we follow curious minds. But that’s where much of our inspiration ends and reality sets in. We have bosses who would never go for such wild ideas. Budgets that can’t stretch that far. There’s too much bureaucracy. …

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30 Seconds to Killer Storytelling Anytime, Anywhere

March 2, 2017 by Carla Johnson I’ve written about how high-quality storytelling can take companies out of the commodity conundrum and actually help raise prices. “That’s great!” readers tell me. “But how do I actually tell a story?” I’d like to share the easiest and quickest storytelling formula ever, courtesy of former Disney Pixar writer Emma Coates. Story, story everywhere. …

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Why Customer Experience is Rooted in Story

February 23, 2017 by Carla Johnson Stories have characters – heroes, villains and mentors. They have a setting. They have plots that unfold over time. And they have themes. The same must be true for story’s function in marketing. Brands that make themselves the hero of the story waste opportunities to become relevant to their audience. Customers’ worlds revolve around …

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Insights vs Measurement. Are You Holding Yourself Back?

February 9, 2017 By Carla Johnson “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future helped me realize I wasn’t crazy. I grew up in a house full of left-brain people – my dad was an accountant-turned-farmer, my mom was a teacher and …

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Do You Suffer From Brand Detachment Disorder?

February 7, 2017 by Carla Johnson Super Bowl ads are the mother lode of creativity. They’re the most watched show on television every year and the buzz of marketers for weeks on end – potentially years. From this year’s National Geographic spot for its upcoming show Genius and Audi’s ad about equal opportunity and equal pay for women, it’s the …

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Why Customers Don’t Trust You (and How to Make Sure They Do)

January 31, 2017 by Carla Johnson Our growing distrust of the news, our governments, the companies for which we work and society in general isn’t in our imagination. That’s the message, loud and clear, from the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual measurement of trust that Edelman Intelligence, a global insight and analytics consultancy, has conducted since 2000. Rich with …