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10 Storytelling Essentials For Marketers

November 17, 2014

man being lifted into air by balloons labeled with essential storytelling attributes: hero, villain, love interest, romance, suspense, tension, humor, anecdotes, conflict which are better than just boring facts

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You’re not relying on plain ol’ boring facts for your marketing, are you? That doesn’t work anymore. It probably never did.

Today, marketing is all about connecting with people, and building relationships. You do that thru storytelling.

What makes a good story? There are 10 essential elements.

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1. Hero

Every good story needs a hero/heroine. Who’s the hero? You are. Why? Because your product or service is going to rescue the client, and save the day.

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2. Villain

Every good story also requires a villain. In marketing, the villain is the nasty little problem that is causing your client grief. You, the Hero, will dispatch the villain, and save the day.

Please note: the villain is not your competition. Heroes do not disparage others. That would make them seem small and petty.

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3. Love Interest

That’s easy: the love interest is your potential client. You’re not reaching out to some amorphous group. You’re telling your story to an individual– a real person.

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4. Romance

It’s up to you– the Hero– to woo the prospective client. You must be passionate and sincere. Passion alone is not enough– you must mean every word you say.

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5. Suspense

Any unresolved problem creates at least mild suspense. By describing the kind of problem you can solve, you introduce suspense into your story.

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6. Tension

Stating the problem creates an awareness-based tension, which is positive. You have brought the problem into the open.

Using scare tactics is a mistake. Such tactics cause fear and resentment, which create negative tension. True heroes stay positive– it’s an important part of their image.

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7. Humor

Humor creates a receptive mood. People who are relaxed and happy are more open to your message.

Humor also boosts your likeability. People like to do business with people they like– and they like people who make them smile.

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8. Anecdotes

An anecdote is defined as a short account of an interesting or amusing event. In marketing, that equates to brief case studies with happy endings: how you solved a problem for a previous client.

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9. Conflict

Good marketing creates conflict: do I ignore the problem, or do I take action? Without conflict, prospects will not feel compelled to act.

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10. Resolution

The happy ending is a happy client. He’s happy because you solved his problem.

Marketing isn’t just about selling. It’s about building a relationship and winning a customer’s loyalty. You do that by solving a problem for a fellow human being.

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To sum up: facts don’t persuade, emotion does. That’s why successful marketing campaigns tell good stories.

The power of emotion also explains why good visuals are so essential to marketing. Visuals get attention. They stir emotion and arouse curiosity. Hopefully, my illustration (above) helped motivate you to read this post.

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Mark Armstrong has been a commercial illustrator for over 20 years. He’s a Photoshop expert specializing in humor, marketing, communication, editorial, and social media. He believes there’s a visual component to every communications problem. His goal for every assignment: illustration that gets attention, makes a point, and sends the right message.

Mark lives in New Hampshire, USA. You can follow him on Twitter @mrstrongarm, and connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Mark Armstrong Illustration. You can view his portfolio in slideshow format.

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Have I missed any? Are there other essential elements a good story needs to have?

Have you ever heard a story that prompted you to buy something, or donate to a cause?

Do you think the above illustration will help you remember the ideas in this post?

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.

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Bates Motel Pumpkin Carving Contest: Includes Complimentary Shower

October 31, 2014

I have a special Halloween greeting for all my faithful readers.

Are you a first time visitor? That’s OK, you get the greeting, too.

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It all began with a good deed: I did some caricatures for a local community theater. The art was used on a poster for a show. I wrote about it in an earlier post.

The theater company said: “You are a kind and generous soul, an exceptional human being– you must be rewarded.” (I’m paraphrasing here.)

So they gave me a free ad in the program for their latest show, a comedy about murder at a 1940′s radio station. It opens tonight, on Halloween.

Here’s my ad:

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ad for community theater program parody of Hitchcock Psycho movie with Norman Bates mother slashing stabbing pumpkin for Halloween jack o'lantern

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As you may have guessed, it’s a parody of Psycho, which is probably director Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known film. Most of the action takes place at the sinister Bates Motel, including the famous “shower scene.”

“Slash a leg” is a play on words: superstitious theater folks don’t want to jinx themselves, so they wish each other good luck by saying, “Break a leg!”

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I always ask myself if there’s anything else I can do with an illustration. I thought this
one would make a great Halloween card. So I did a color version, and uploaded it to my store. Here it is:

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Psycho Halloween from Bates Motel greeting card parody of Hitchcock Psycho movie with Norman Bates mother slashing stabbing pumpkin for jack o'lantern

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Not the most meticulous carving technique, but you have to admire her enthusiasm. Here’s a larger detail image:

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detail image for Psycho Halloween from Bates Motel greeting card parody of Hitchcock Psycho movie with Norman Bates mother slashing stabbing pumpkin for jack o'lantern

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Hard to believe Psycho dates back in 1960. I’d forgotten it was filmed in black and white. Supposedly, chocolate syrup was used for “blood” in the shower scene. Hollywood trickery takes many forms.

If you’ve forgotten the film, or never seen it, you can watch this trailer. It might give you chills, so put on an extra sweater first.

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I’m not a huge fan of Hitchcock’s films, but I am a huge fan of Hitchcock himself. He was just the sort of “artist” I most admire: a true craftsman who paid attention to every detail, but was always ready to poke fun at himself and his work.

No doubt about it– the guy was a kidder.

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Alfred Hitchcock who directed horror movie thriller Psycho sitting in director's chair reserved for Norman's mother Mrs. Bates

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Have you ever carved a pumpkin? Is it something you do every year?

Have you ever watched Psycho? If so, do you still take showers?

Are you a fan of horror? Is that why you visit this blog??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.

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