More than Words

storytelling

I love a good story. Is there anything more engaging or thought provoking than a compelling story?

No one seems to tell a better story than Pixar, the Walt Disney animated subsidiary. Pixar is renowned for its high quality animation and superb story lines. In a recent webinar I was directed to check out Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling to see how it parallels with digital brand storytelling.

So, what does Pixar have to say about storytelling?

Rule 1.                    You admire a character more for trying than for their success.

Rule 2.                    Keep in mind what’s interesting to an audience not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.

Rule 3.                    Trying for theme is important, buy you won’t see what the story is actually about until you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

Rule 4.                    Once upon a time there was       . Everyday,     . One day       . Because of that,    .because of that,     . Until finally    .

Rule 5.                    Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

Rule 6.                    What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

Rule 7.                    Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

Rule 8.                    Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

Rule 9.                    When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next…lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

Rule 10.                 Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

Rule 11.                 Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

Rule 12.                 Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

Rule 13.                 Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

Rule 14.                 Why must you tell this story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

Rule 15.                 If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

Rule 16.                 What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

Rule 17.                 No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

Rule 18.                 You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story telling is testing not refining.

Rule 19.                 Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great. Coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

Rule 20.                 Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How’d you rearrange them Into what you do like?

Rule 21.                 You have to identify with your situation and characters; can’t just write “cool”. What would make you act that way?

Rule 22.                 What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

And there you have it (I think #4 and #10 are my favorites). To build on Pixar’s storytelling rules, Filmmaker Andrew Stanton offers great advice in his Ted Talk video, The Clues to a Great Story. One tip is “Make Me Care”. I think this is an important part of any story – even brand stories. Why should readers or viewers care about what a brand has to say? As we know, storytelling can be the best form of engagement. What better way to connect with customers than through brand storytelling? Yet, there must be a compelling reason for people to want to listen. This is where brands fall short. They usually spin yarns about their products or services, but few have the insight to offer the audience more. Stanton advices that storytellers should use what they know, expressing values they personally feel deep down to their core. How many brands can say that?

Here’s an example of a brand that I think did a great job with their brand story. It’s Guinness’ “Empty Chair” ad from July 4, 2014:

So what did you like about the Guinness example? How do you think the story aligns with Pixar’s storytelling rules?

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Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) to Work

The impact of consumerization of technology

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Do you bring your own device to work, such as a tablet or smart phone? If so, does your employer allow you to use it for work or personal activities?

It used to be that technology was confined to either the work or home environment. Now, devices are portable, affordable, and flexible enough that they go everywhere with us, including the office. Moreover, users are actually using their personal devices to perform work activities. The “consumerization of IT” is defined as the use of technologies that can easily be provisioned by non-technologists. This trend represents a fundamental shift between employers and employees.

But, what’s the impact? Gartner found 40% used personally owned smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops as a primary or supplemental business device and 45% of workers not required to use a personal device for work were doing so without their employer’s knowledge. Most users do not require traditional IT resources to connect, collaborate, share, or consume content. Employees demand to use their personally preferred mobile devices, personal computers, applications, social media, and cloud services wherever they go or in whatever they do. Technology has made employee empowerment easier, but not all organizations are embracing it. In fact, some organizations attempt to control it with strict policies or specific hardware and software requirements or company issued devices.

Is there a happy medium? Employers are concerned about everything affecting their brand – this incudes security, software viruses, viral content, breaches, etc. Employees believe they can and should be able to use their own devices to be more productive and stay in touch with the outside world. Both sides should work together to find common ground. CIOs must forge new, collaborative relationships with users, give them freedom to make IT decisions, and teach them how to assume responsibility for those decisions.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Help Me Out!

How Technology May Change The Dressing Room Experience

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In the story of Snow White, the magic mirror held great power. Oh, to have a mirror like that on a shopping trip!

I don’t know about you, but I have to psych myself up when shopping for clothes. I despise trips to the dressing room, especially if I end up shopping at more than one store. The process of undressing, trying on clothes, and then redressing is maddening! Because of this, I tend to overload my trip to the dressing room with different sizes and color options. Nearly all of us can relate to being situations where you love the style or color of an item, but the size wasn’t quite right. Yet, unless you have a friend or family member that can fetch another one, who wants to get redressed to go back out onto the sales floor only to have to go through the undress/try on/redress process. Get the picture?

But, there are some cool technology advancements just around the corner that may make the trip to the dressing room less painful and…fun!

Nordstrom is testing smart mirrors in the dressing room that have the ability to act as a website. With the tap of a customer’s finger, the mirror turns into an interactive screen, effectively creating smart fitting rooms. The intent is to bring technology into an area (the dressing room) that is normally not automated, but highly influences the consumer’s buying decision. Additionally, Bloomingdale’s is adding mounted iPads on the wall of their dressing rooms. Bloomingdale’s solution is not quite as sophisticated or high-tech as interactive mirrors, but it’s a step in the right direction. With this technology, customers can scan bar codes to find colors or sizes and to see what’s in stock. Additionally, they can request an associate bring an item to them without having to leave the dressing room.

How about not even having to get undressed at all to try on clothes? Yes, it maybe possible. Emerging retail technology is considering how holograms can play into the dressing room experience. British digital agency Engage created a Virtual Style Pod that scanned shoppers and created a life-size image onto which luxury clothing from brands like Alexander McQueen and DKNY were projected. Now, that’s pretty cool stuff!

But, this technology is not just about making the shopping experience more pleasant for the customer. Retailers are learning how to use their brick and mortar stores to service customers like never before. As customers shopping preferences shift to more digital avenues, retailers are figuring out how to integrate their physical store locations into the digital shopping experience.

It looks like having a “magic mirror” maybe quite possible after all. I for one cannot wait for the dressing room revolution!

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Marketing Technology Careers

New Opportunities in Marketing for Tech Geeks

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Say what?

That’s right, you read correctly. There are new opportunities emerging in marketing that – gasp – are not creative. Yet, I believe these new roles have the ability to contribute to a successful campaign as much as creative ingenuity.

Technology is changing the face of marketing in more ways than just engagement and advertising. It’s bringing to light the need to recruit and hire personnel with technical acumen. Creative skills have always been a crucial part of marketing and will continue to be so. But, as the digital landscape continues to morph and grow, marketers will struggle with delivering content dynamically and quickly without people that possess technical ability. The tools available today (and certainly in the future) are much more sophisticated and integrated than ever before.

Additionally, more and more marketers need to understand the data that is cultivated and stored inside their organization and be able to maximize the value from it. See if this sounds familiar: the marketing department wants to more fully understand customer perception and attitudes. They hire expensive vendors and purchase additional tools capable of collecting this data only to find out that the Customer Service department is already gathering a large portion of this information through their customer information systems. What ends ups happening is the implementation of disparate systems and duplicate customer information. This happens over and over again throughout the corporate world. It is often said that an organization is “data rich, but information poor”. Meaning, most organizations are swimming in data, but what they lack is real integration and analytical insight as to what the data means or how best to use it. Here’s where marketing geeks come to the rescue.

The skills required to integrate marketing campaigns across multiple channels seamlessly and understand the data that is required to be successful are in high demand. One such job is a Marketing Technologist. DigitalPeople’s case study describes the marketing technologist’s primary role is to assure that technology is being used in the most effective manner and that it offers a competitive marketing advantage. They work more closely with business leaders to prioritize IT strategies and make them executable as they relate to key marketing strategies. Companies currently looking for this type of role include Dell, Baptist Healthcare System, and NBC Universal. Scott Brinker states a marketing technologist is a marketer who understands technology and a technologist who is passionate about marketing. A more elevated role is Chief Marketing Technologist, one that is equivalent of the Chief Information Officer. This person reports directly to the Chief Marketing Officer and oversees all things marketing – marketing software, data and analytics, social and mobile platforms, apps development, content marketing, web mechanics, and digital advertising networks.

These new roles and responsibilities open the door for a whole new group of people who may have not given a career in marketing a second thought. But, as the future of marketing becomes more technical, marketing tech jobs are hot!

So, marketers…get your geek on!

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