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How Well Do You Trigger Anticipation?

January 4, 2018 by Carla Johnson When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for Sunday nights. I grew up on a farm and work was never a 9-to-5 gig. With crops, hogs and cattle, we worked whenever work needed to be done. But Sunday nights were different. Sunday night was when we had milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches for …

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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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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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How Empathy Will Grow Your Sales & Marketing Pipeline

February 14, 2017 by Brian Carroll We have more marketing channels and more content than ever before, but it’s become harder to actually connect with customers. Here’s what I mean. Today’s crazy-busy customers are weary of pitches, cold emails, hype, and manipulative messages, and as a result, they tune them out. In our rush to obtain leads, drive opportunities and …

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5 Inspiring Storytelling Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 17, 2017 by Carla Johnson Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most influential storytellers of the 20th century. A pastor, activist and humanitarian, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Nobel Peace Prize lecture and “Letter from a Birmingham City Jail” are among the most revered orations and writings in the English language. King wasn’t able to make …

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Why You’re Missing the Biggest Lead Conversion Need and How to Fix It

January 5, 2017 by Carla Johnson People aren’t good with change. We like to think that we are. We say we’ll do it. But even when we’re pounded by evidence of what’s not working we keep trudging on with habitual tactics. Many leading analyst firms claim that buyers are 57 percent of the way through the buying cycle before they …

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Why Empathy Matters in Storytelling and How to Use It

December 6, 2016 by Carla Johnson In his book Down and Out in Paris and London, author George Orwell (of 1984 and Animal Farm fame…) tells the story of penniless British writer Eric Blair and his adventures on the streets of…you guessed it…Paris and London. It was Orwell’s first novel and in good part, autobiographical. Although he came from a …

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Objectives vs Assumptions: Understanding Audience Motives in Storytelling

November 29, 2016 by Carla Johnson In his book Lead with a Story, author Paul Smith shares a great anecdote about why we have to take time to dig into understanding what matters to our audience. Paul tells the story of a law school professor who assigned an unusual project for students working with a local district judge. The assignment was to …

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Want to Raise Prices? Focus on Storytelling

November 17, 2016 by Carla Johnson Storytelling still gets a bad rap. Companies – especially B2B – see it as soft. Execs don’t see it as something to do if they’re serious about hitting revenue numbers. Sales teams say it’s hard and takes too long to affect a sale. Marketers claim campaigns are more effective. Here’s something to chew on. …

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22 Storytelling Rules Everyone Can Master

November 8, 2016 by Carla Johnson I’m often asked by business people how to tell better stories. I always tell them to learn from the masters, which is rarely other business people. The best places to go are often outside your industry. Those skilled in the art of storytelling but who work with different constraints. Because that’s how you begin …

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7 Storytelling Tips for Sales Teams

October 25, 2016 by Carla Johnson The biggest beef I hear from sales teams or sales-driven organizations is that they can’t get people to pay attention, make decisions or quit product comparisons. This is a huge red flag for a common illness. These companies are caught in the commodity trap. The commodity trap snaps up brands when they sell on …

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A Strong Storytelling Strategy Will Expand B2B Reach

October 6, 2016 by Carla Johnson B2B marketers have tapped social media as a pillar approach to reaching audiences. In fact, 83% of respondents in the 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends from Content Marketing Institute named social media content and their number one go-to tactic. But social media for B2B usually means LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. A few brands that …

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How to Tie ROI, KPIs and Other Metrics to Storytelling

October 4, 2016 by Carla Johnson We hear about storytelling a lot, but what does it mean? And does branded storytelling actually work? And can you measure it? That was the topic of last week’s Content Marketing Institute twitter chat with Jacob Warwick, marketing strategist at Blast Analytics. Here were the top takeaways from the chat… Question 1: What’s the …

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From Stories to Experiences: Marketing’s Evolving Role in Creating Value

September 27, 2016 If ever there were a profession suffering from motion sickness, it’s marketing. Upheaval from a sea of constant change is truly the new norm. Sure footing is a thing of the past. As we look to deliver value within our organizations, we find that our arms need to span greater breadths and depths. First we thought alignment …

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Don’t Be Trapped by Form

August 30, 2016 by Robert Rose When I first came to Los Angeles, one of my screenwriting instructors told me something that I still find invaluable today. He said, “When you have a story, outline it, abstract it, even write it without considering whether it will be a novel, a screenplay or a television show. If you start with the …

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B2B Brand Storytelling: Learning From Nike

August 23, 2016 by Carla Johnson When it comes to consistently telling a brand story, few brands have the sustainable track record that Nike does. From its inception in 1971 (previously known as Blue Ribbon Sports), founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman have been unwavering with Nike’s mission: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. What …

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What’s Brand Storytelling and Why Do You Need It?

August 11, 2016 by Carla Johnson Frustration. I’m hearing more of it and not just from marketers – but from executives as well. Conversations that used to be within the walls of marketing are overflowing into the C-suite. And a big part of that conversation is about relevance. How do we become more relevant not only to customers, but to …

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Sleepless in the C-Suite: What keeps CMOs up at night?

August 2, 2016 by Carla Johnson “What keeps you up at night?” For marketers, there’s plenty. The annual Tech Heads survey of marketing directors and business buyers points out exactly this. This year’s results reveal that B2B CMOs are six times more likely to lose sleep than gain it in 2016, compared with previous years. And while there are several …

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5 Essential Elements to Include in Every Sales Pitch

July 19, 2016 by Ken Sterling Effectively closing sales is the bread and butter of your business. Here’s how to hit a home run every time. According to researchers at the University of Florida, 20% of all salespeople make 80% of all sales (also known as the 20/80 rule or the Pareto principle), which makes securing a spot in that top …

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Developing an Emotional Connection with Customers: Insights from HP’s Antonio Lucio

February 23, 2016 Telling a story, creating an experience or building a relationship of any kind, with anyone, starts with an emotional connection. This idea sits at the back of the classroom for most marketers. In an article from Forbes, HP CMO Antonio Lucio talked about his formula for building a sustainable brand: E = I2+DEA or… Emotion=Insight+Innovation+Digital Engagement+Experiences+Accountability In our book, …