One of your most powerful story marketing hacks is to turn your head sideways

We were in one of the most magnificent storybook settings you can imagine, and I couldn’t wait to get out.

Michele and I spent three weeks in France and the Netherlands in July of 2014. We hit all of the requisite museums and chateaus, including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Versailles, Chenonceau, and several D-Day monuments and museums, Normandy American Cemetery, et al.

It was at the base of this medieval monastery perched atop Mont-Saint-Michele, one of France’s most stunning attractions, that I lost it. I was tired. It was crowded. And I could no longer look at another centuries old cathedral that defied the senses in its grandeur. It was too much of a good thing.

Nick Gray, the founder of Museum Hack, calls it “Museum fatigue.” It’s when your brain stops computing the wonders it’s seeing because there’s just too much to take in. You turn off your senses and start stumbling around looking for the cafe, gift shop, bathroom, drinking fountain, exit. Anything! Feeling half guilty for shunning the stunning works around you.

Nick Gray | Museum Hack | Business of StoryNick joins me on this week’s edition of Business of Story podcast. He shares how his team of rogue guides lead renegade tours to help guests look at and experience a museum in a whole new way.

Nick covers:

  • The three things that Museum Hack did to disrupt the museum experience and make it much more attractive
  • How to overcome gallery fatigue through storytelling
  • What businesses can learn on how to sell adventures instead of products.

How to overcome marketing fatigue with story marketing

What occurred to me in this episode is that we’re all fatigued by the constant barrage of communications we glance through every day. How do you get your work to stand out?

Story marketing should be at the heart of your content strategy. You want to lead with brand stories that are timely, relevant, surprising, even odd. Especially odd.

You can accomplish this in your story marketing by taking on a subject of relevance to your audience, then cocking your head to one side and approaching it differently. It’s how you hack the content marketing world to rise above the noise of the Attention Economy. As renown brander Sally Hogshead said, “Different is better than better.”

As I prepared to interview Nick, I went back through my Europe pictures and chuckled at some of the photos. I’m an amateur street photographer, and the game for me is to capture the story happening in the moment. So instead of photographing the galleries, I found myself shooting the gallery goers. I was hacking my own museum tours and I didn’t realize it at the time.

My gallery hack visual storytelling

I call this "Way Finding at the Louvre. | Story Marketing

I call this “Way Finding at the Louvre.”


Venus de Milo in a Pinch

“Venus de Milo in a Pinch”


"The Young Art Critic" at the Louvre

“The Young Art Critic” at the Louvre


Classic Selfie" in London's National Museum | Story Marketing | Business of Story

“Classic Selfie” in London’s National Museum


You Don't Say" at Musee d'Orsay

“You Don’t Say” at Musee d’Orsay


Nothing to Look at Here" in Musee d'Orsay

“Nothing to Look at Here” in Musee d’Orsay


Dedicated Docent" at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

“Dedicated Docent” at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This last pic was snapped off with my iPhone as we were being entertained by this marvelous docent who was a cross between Jerry Seinfeld and a PhD art historian. It was the first time I had experienced a museum hack, and his storytelling made it the most memorable experience I’ve had in a gallery.

He was different.

Listen to Nick and learn how to hack your story marketing 

  • Why breaking the status quo will help you tell a better brand story
  • How to add adventure and audience participation into your office tour
  • How to connect with younger generations by evolving your storytelling

Key Quotes:

“Three main things: guides, games, and gossip.” —@nickgraynews (click to tweet)

“We don’t think of ourselves as breaking the rules, but we’re breaking traditions.” —@nickgraynews (click to tweet)

“We’ve seen storytelling evolve, in that many people are looking for new ways to connect with Millennials.” —@nickgraynews (click to tweet)

Mentioned in This Episode:

About Park Howell 

Park Howell is a trusted brand story strategist, sought-after speaker on story marketing, and is the professor of storytelling in the Executive Masters of Sustainability Leadership at Arizona State University.

He has helped international brands, including Coca Cola, Beyer Pharmaceutical, Cummins Diesel, American Express, and United States Air Force. The Business of Story podcast is a widely popular and helps brands connect with customers and achieve epic growth. Contact Park to have him speak at your company event or conference.