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The Art of Effective
Storytelling
Michele Miller
Content Strategist
Professional Storyteller
@mmiller75
Disclaimer
It’s no secret that “Storytelling” has become one of the big
buzzwords everyone loves to throw around.
But I al...
Significant Objects
A study in measuring the
value of content
In 2009, two men by the names of Rob
Walker and Joshua Glenn...
The Hypothesis
Stories are such a powerful driver of
emotional value that their effect on a
given object’s subjective valu...
Significant Object: Globe Paperweight
PURCHASE PRICE: $1.49 SALE PRICE: $197.50
© 2009-2015 Significant Objects 1
http://s...
The Gist of the Experiment
$129 The total price of thrift store items purchased
$3,613K The approximate net proceeds from ...
Humans Are Not Moved To
Action By Data Dumps
“AFTER NOURISHMENT,
SHELTER AND COMPANIONSHIP,
STORIES ARE THE THING WE
NEED MOST IN THE WORLD.”
- PHILIP PULLMAN
© 1984 W...
We hear statistics.
We FEEL stories.
When we are advocating for something, we most often think of a
compelling argument, m...
Finding the Balance
© 2015 Jack Malcolm 3
You simply CANNOT win without activating emotion.
As long as we are dealing with...
Photo by NBC/Ben Cohen - © 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC 4
So then, when & why is storytelling effective in persuasion?
Fac...
Photo by NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC 5
But when we are absorbed in a
story, we drop our intellectual
skepticism. ...
Storytelling Crimes
Storytelling Crimes: The Data Dump
Risks:
• Confusion
• Intimidation
• Disengagement
Definition:
• Long ramblings of in-de...
Storytelling Crimes: Industry Jargon
Risks:
• Lack of
understanding
• Inability to relate
• Alienation
Definition:
• Mecha...
Storytelling Crimes: Telling vs. Showing
Risks:
• Lack of context
• Lack of trust
• So what?
Definition:
• Taking a non-va...
From Product-Centered to
Story-Driven Content
People don’t buy products…
They buy better versions of themselves.
We are what we buy.
adapted from samuelhulick.com
Social Anthropology
Consumer Psychology
Commercial Persuasion
Buyers adopt products
not just as consumer
choices, but as c...
Thinking Like the Customer
Couple of really important points here:
• The average customer does not think in terms
of “onli...
© 2013 UserOnboard.com 6
Future
Customer
Our
Product
Super Awesome
Human
Focus On Leveling Up
This is
This isn’t what your...
It’s time to change
your way of thinking
Here’s what our
product can do
Here’s what you can
do with our product
From…
To…
So How Does This Apply
In The Real World?
The Storytelling Trifecta
NARRATIVE
DATA
DESIGN
Only once you have narrative and design in place should you introduce the
...
Sharon’s Connected Commerce Journey
https://vimeo.com/magentoecommerce/review/120523534/a09bf38673
References
1. Glenn, Joshua, & Walker, Rob. (2009). Significant Objects. © 2009-2015. Retrieved from
http://significantobj...
Michele Miller
Content Strategist
Professional Storyteller
@mmiller75
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The Art of Effective Storytelling

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How can you become more relevant to your audience? You can start by moving away from feature/function/data conversations and toward effective storytelling. We hear statistics. We FEEL stories. It's how we're hardwired as humans.

Published in: Marketing
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  • Thanks so much for the feedback! I'm glad you agree. :-)
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  • Thank you for this, especially for the insight "Data can act as a foundation, but it should never be the lead. " Too often did I in Marketing or Sales put the data first. Nowerdays with great dat visualziation products i.e. SAP Lumira, it works much better to use it as a foundation and the build the story as you suggest.
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The Art of Effective Storytelling

  1. 1. The Art of Effective Storytelling
  2. 2. Michele Miller Content Strategist Professional Storyteller @mmiller75
  3. 3. Disclaimer It’s no secret that “Storytelling” has become one of the big buzzwords everyone loves to throw around. But I also want us to be realistic in our understanding of stories as the very first social medium. This methodology is not new. It has continuously been reinvented as more and more formats and platforms become available.
  4. 4. Significant Objects A study in measuring the value of content In 2009, two men by the names of Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn purchased cheap trinkets, and asked some of today’s most talented creative writers to invent stories about them, and then post the stories and the objects together on eBay to see whether the invented story enhanced the value of the object.
  5. 5. The Hypothesis Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on a given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively. In plain language, Narrative transforms insignificant objects into significant ones.
  6. 6. Significant Object: Globe Paperweight PURCHASE PRICE: $1.49 SALE PRICE: $197.50 © 2009-2015 Significant Objects 1 http://significantobjects.com/2010/01/29/globe-paperweight-test/ This simple, globe paperweight basically came with it’s own reality show. It was accompanied by a handwritten letter to a friend with the tale of a broken marriage, a torrid affair…sex, world travel, regret, loneliness, questions of self worth…And in just this one single memento, a heartbreaking reminder of multiple romantic failures. And as proven by the results of this experiment, this insignificant object was highly significant to someone. Someone identified with this story.
  7. 7. The Gist of the Experiment $129 The total price of thrift store items purchased $3,613K The approximate net proceeds from sales on eBay 100 The number of contributing writers 2,700% The final markup
  8. 8. Humans Are Not Moved To Action By Data Dumps
  9. 9. “AFTER NOURISHMENT, SHELTER AND COMPANIONSHIP, STORIES ARE THE THING WE NEED MOST IN THE WORLD.” - PHILIP PULLMAN © 1984 Warner Bros. Entertainment 2
  10. 10. We hear statistics. We FEEL stories. When we are advocating for something, we most often think of a compelling argument, made up of data. When in reality, neuroscience research clearly shows that we are not hardwired to understand logic or retain facts for very long at all. What we are able to understand and retain are stories.
  11. 11. Finding the Balance © 2015 Jack Malcolm 3 You simply CANNOT win without activating emotion. As long as we are dealing with the human race, we will ALWAYS be dealing with both the rational AND irrational, logical and emotional.
  12. 12. Photo by NBC/Ben Cohen - © 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC 4 So then, when & why is storytelling effective in persuasion? Factual arguments, statistics, etc. leave us critical and skeptical – just like Mr. Ron Swanson.
  13. 13. Photo by NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC 5 But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual skepticism. We are emotionally engaged and our defenses naturally go down. (Neuroscience!)
  14. 14. Storytelling Crimes
  15. 15. Storytelling Crimes: The Data Dump Risks: • Confusion • Intimidation • Disengagement Definition: • Long ramblings of in-depth feature/function documentation without communicating value or ensuring relevance and understanding
  16. 16. Storytelling Crimes: Industry Jargon Risks: • Lack of understanding • Inability to relate • Alienation Definition: • Mechanical, meaningless (to your audience) language characterized by convoluted syntax
  17. 17. Storytelling Crimes: Telling vs. Showing Risks: • Lack of context • Lack of trust • So what? Definition: • Taking a non-value-based approach to how your product works vs. why they should use it
  18. 18. From Product-Centered to Story-Driven Content
  19. 19. People don’t buy products… They buy better versions of themselves. We are what we buy. adapted from samuelhulick.com
  20. 20. Social Anthropology Consumer Psychology Commercial Persuasion Buyers adopt products not just as consumer choices, but as conscious expressions of their identities. Because of this we’ve moved away from a one- way conversation into a dialogue that depends on our understanding and application of the social sciences. The how and why of our purchases Understanding behaviors that are largely culturally determined Using what we know about the audience to entice, create desire & sell
  21. 21. Thinking Like the Customer Couple of really important points here: • The average customer does not think in terms of “online” or “in-store”. • You need to think like they do, which is one brand, regardless of touch point • You cannot force your customers to think like the business • To win, you need to be able to articulate this mental model to your prospects & existing customers Stop talking about yourself. It’s definitely not about you.
  22. 22. © 2013 UserOnboard.com 6 Future Customer Our Product Super Awesome Human Focus On Leveling Up This is This isn’t what your business makes.
  23. 23. It’s time to change your way of thinking
  24. 24. Here’s what our product can do Here’s what you can do with our product From… To…
  25. 25. So How Does This Apply In The Real World?
  26. 26. The Storytelling Trifecta NARRATIVE DATA DESIGN Only once you have narrative and design in place should you introduce the third component. Data can act as a foundation, but it should never be the lead.
  27. 27. Sharon’s Connected Commerce Journey https://vimeo.com/magentoecommerce/review/120523534/a09bf38673
  28. 28. References 1. Glenn, Joshua, & Walker, Rob. (2009). Significant Objects. © 2009-2015. Retrieved from http://significantobjects.com/2010/01/29/globe-paperweight-test/ 2. Petersen, Wolfgang. The NeverEnding Story. © 1984 Warner Bros. Entertainment. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088323/ 3. Malcolm, Jack. (2015). When the Heart Wins. Practical Eloquence. © 2015 Jack Malcolm. Retrieved from http://jackmalcolm.com/blog/2014/09/when-the-heart-wins/ 4. Cohen, Ben. (2014). Photo by NBC - © 2014 NBCUniversal Media. Retrieved from LLC http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3054500864/tt1266020 5. Photo by NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3900878592/nm0644406 6. Hulick, Samuel. (2013). Features Vs. Benefits. User Onboarding. © 2013. Retrieved from http://www.useronboard.com/features-vs-benefits/
  29. 29. Michele Miller Content Strategist Professional Storyteller @mmiller75

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