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Do you ever have to read brochures that are nearly unreadable? Brochures that push the superlative functionality, the embroidered success story, the many advantages and sparse disadvantages, the reasoned argument with no marks of originality, distinguishing features and no story. Nobody wants to read them. So many are writing this kind of stuff that you might actually think that this really is the normal way to produce marketing collateral. What do really successful companies do – global leaders like Apple, Netflix, Lego and General Electric?

Answer: They are all masters in the art of story, drama and engagement. No story, no fun.

Marketing departments everywhere have been churning out stuff that nobody wants to read for years, but now some are beginning to realise that there is another way to crack the nut. So sit up and ask yourself. What do your clients really want to read?

Answer – very little. Their attention spans are too short. Microsoft in Canada has recently measured a drop from 15 to just 8 seconds over the last ten years. But wait, what about Netflix? Netflix?

Question: Why do people, who don't even have 8 seconds to focus on an advertisement, sit down to watch HOUSE OF CARDS for ten hours in a single viewing?

Answer: Story.

Classical story design is a new communications principle that can multiply your audience, deepen their attention, and measurably boost long-term loyalty. If clients really must read something, let it be something that they enjoy, that shows a little empathy, presents a mystery, provides that feeling of release and has a decent story behind it. Reasoned argument just doesn't capture brains and hearts the way a good story does. If you really want to get your messages across so that people stand up and listen, you have to use a story-based approach. The world's most successful companies, such as Apple, are leaders in story. Story leadership now equates to commercial dominance. Leaders use story not just for their marketing collateral, but in every important area of their businesses.

Leadership is a story discipline par excellence. Leadership story and business strategy are the two most significant forms of corporate narrative at work in the world today. You can't divorce one from the other. Jack Welch has gone on record as saying "What really counts is that I'm Irish and I know how to tell stories". Leadership, strategy, marketing and communications all need story to communicate effectively. In fact every corporate function is a story opportunity. Human Resources, for example – improve morale through stories that make you proud to belong. But you need a holistic approach; all corporate functions, like all members of an orchestra, must follow the same melody.

Did you know, for example, that in 1996 Apple was just six months away from complete bankruptcy? No iPhone, no iTunes, no iPod, not even an iMac in sight.

Answer: Steve Jobs saved the day - and tripled his share price within 12 months by choosing to tell just one story - Think Different - inspired by a Hollywood film. 300%. 12 months. No new products. The same threatening environment... This is the power of storysmithing along classical lines.

Can financial service professionals – especially those traditionally responsible for persuading people – learn something from their professional cousins in the film industry? In the face of massive digital disruption...? This is something absolutely new in Europe – banking and finance using story across leadership, reputation, strategy, branding and culture. You could build your own story capability to integrate professional arts and film-world story to your complex business communication needs. Go viral. To be successful you need to equip your teams with systematic story power. Someone needs to bring great story to the world of banking and finance. 


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Andrew Fear

Andrew Fear

Advisor / Consultant


Member since

31 Oct 2006


Augsburg, Germany

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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