Why Marketers Need to Become Better Storytellers

What We're Reading: Winning The Story Wars by Jonah Sachs

There has been a lot written about storytelling, and it is certainly a very important topic as CMOs grapple with the impact ofStory Wars by Jonah Sachs

social media on marketing paradigms. Few people seem able to discuss the power of story as clearly and passionately as Jonah Sachs. Winning The Story Wars is a great read and Jonah Sachs does a masterful job of going deep into the topic while still being very interesting and insightful.

Like many other marketing focused books these days, Winning the Story Wars focuses on how marketing is being changed by the overcrowded media landscape and the power of consumers to push back on messages they think are disingenuous or insulting. Marketers today need to learn to convey authentic messages in ways that resonate with consumers and allow them to become vehicles for the messages. To achieve this, marketers must become better storytellers and learn to focus on the ability of the message to incite emotion in the audience and motivate them to make the story their own and pass it on.

Sachs does a great job of explaining how the advertising work of the past was conceived of in the broadcast era. Even the most successful ads (see Pepsi video below) of the broadcast era focused on conveying a static message in which the brand was the star.

Many of these marketers abused their power by using insecurity based strategies designed to sell product at the expense of the consumer's well being. Sachs argues that social media is pushing us back to the oral tradition which dominated much of human history. If a story is to live, it needs people to want to pass it along. In this environment, the most successful marketers must learn to send authentic messages of empowerment (such as Dove – see below).

In the book, Sachs advises marketers to be interesting, tell the truth, and live the truth. He warns of the five deadly sins marketers succumb to; Vanity, Authority, Puffery, Insincerity, and Gimmickry. He offers lots of practical advice to support his views and manages to keep the book interesting and easy to read, while also providing enough depth to be useful.

Highly recommended.