Story marketing must be at the heart of your content marketing

Every business leader or communicator must “humanize” their brand. This is especially true for the cold, feature-and-function advertising that professional services firms run.

But a lot of B2B people look at me cross-eyed when I talk about humanizing their brand through story marketing.

“Isn’t storytelling just a gimmick?” I sometimes hear.

It’s not. Story marketing is when you capture the actual impact you are having on the lives of your audiences. These include your fellow company leaders, employees, customers, vendors and stakeholders. And then share those business stories with your world.

The best stories begin with a personal dilemma that your audience can relate to.


My guest this week on the Business of Story podcast is Jen Grisanti. Jen is an acclaimed Hollywood story/script consultant who has read over 8,000 scripts. She shows us how to bring life to a brand like a writer does to a fictional character.

It all starts by answering this simple question:

What is the personal dilemma connected to your professional pursuit?

Your personal dilemma that drives you in business is the “emotional fuel behind your business story,” according to Grisanti.

She reveals a simple story structure that she uses with TV and screenwriters that we business communicators can use. It begins with a trigger. Jen calls this our “All is lost moment.” It’s that point when the universe has dumped us on our heads and propels us into action.

“All stories begin with a trigger incident that pushes you into a dilemma, and then the choice made in the dilemma is what defines the pursuit,” she said.

Trigger > Dilemma > Choice > Pursuit

A trigger incident for me and my business happened this time last year. We started 2015 without our two largest clients. After 13 years as the ad agency for Goodwill of Central Arizona, helping grow the organization by more than 400 percent, they hired another firm. It was a good ride, and a hard loss.

Adding to the excitement, our five-year contract with our second largest client was done.

My dilemma was how to replace the revenue for a full-service ad agency in an industry that is splintered by specialists? Many clients piece-mealing work through in-house staff, and outsource communication tasks to several vendors.

After 30 years in the ad industry, 20 of those years running Park&Co, I made a choice. I decided to transform our operations as a full-service agency and focus on my passion:

Help business leaders and communicators achieve epic growth for their enterprise and their people through the power of story marketing.

This is both an exhilarating and a frightening pursuit. On one hand, I had to say goodbye to talented colleagues. I realized that my full-service agency model that brought us so much success simply no longer worked, at least for me.

The “Co.” in Park&Co is now a group of amazing freelance communication specialists. They help me activate the business and brand stories I author using the proven Story Cycle system.

ParkandCo-story-cycle-Bold copy

My pursuit in story marketing includes:

  1. Chief Brand Officer for Hire using story strategy, development, planning and consulting to help you get your brand story straight
  2. Business story teaching and coaching through workshops, and the communications course I created and teach in the Executive Masters of Sustainability Leadership  program at Arizona State University
  3. Speaking engagements, including gigs like my recent “Storytelling in Content Marketing” session at Social Media Marketing World
  4. Online business storytelling training courses, YouTube training videos, and story creation tools
  5. “Pick My Brain” one-hour phone call or Skype brand strategy and business story consulting sessions to help you kickstart the authoring of your business story
  6. Sharing what I’ve learned about story marketing through this blog and my podcast

Why is it important to get your brand story straight?

The trigger I experience with clients is when they realize they don’t have their brand story straight. Employees have not bought into their vision. There is little knowledge for their core audiences. Customer engagement is suffering. Sales are not where they should be. And messages are fragmented across channels without much strategy or direction.

The dilemma is often articulated as: “What is our brand story? How do we build consensus among leadership on what we stand for? How do we share compelling product and service stories that we can live into as an organization?”

The choice is to leverage the proven power of story marketing. We have created striking business results for clients using our Story Cycle system.

The pursuit is simple. Are you clarifying your brand story? Developing a powerpoint that actually makes powerful points? Designing sales presentations? Creating content marketing and comprehensive campaigns?

Now you can use an intentional approach to your brand story marketing strategy that drives business results.

Change Your Story, Change Your Life

change your story change your lifeIn the spirit of getting your story straight, Jen’s latest book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path to Success, explores what you do after experiencing any of life’s major turning points. Divorce. Job loss. Illness. The death of a loved one. She shows readers how to become the hero of their own stories and change the direction of their lives.

“I show readers how to look at fiction and understand how there’s always a goal. There is always a tremendous amount of obstacles before the hero reaches the goal. If we could incorporate that in our own life and understand that that’s a part of every story arc, then we can create the type of stories that we want to be living,” Grisanti said.

Or, as I have learned studying Joseph Campbell: When you follow your bliss you energize your life.

Learn more great personal and professional storytelling wisdom from Jen on this edition of Business of Story podcast. Then comment below sharing the personal dilemma that is driving your professional pursuit.

Please take a moment to go to iTunes and rate and review the show. By doing so, you will help me in my pursuit of sharing the business of story with the world.

Thank you.