Persuasive Storytelling

Former Ford CMO Jim Farley doesn’t mince words: “Storytelling is your most important skill as a marketing leader”. If your vision for a better way forward isn’t wrapped in a persuasive narrative, it’s likely to fizzle out before it even gets off the ground. So how can you avoid this pitfall if telling stories isn’t a natural strength? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • Thomas Barta advises marketing leaders to build three essential elements into every narrative: hearthead and how-to. Heart is about making an emotional connection. Head is about backing it up with evidence. And how-to is about laying out a concrete plan that brings your audience into the story.
  • Martin Weigel goes much deeper on the subject. He’s writing for an audience of agency planners, but anyone trying to rally people around a new strategy will find his advice useful. We especially love this tip: “Be the ruthless editor.”
  • Speaking of knowing your audience, consider using the Spectrum of Allies framework—popular in social change and activism circles—to break down your audience based on their level of support for your vision. Then design your story to turn neutrals into allies.

  • Sometimes the opportunity to tell a persuasive story happens in a conversation or a workshop, instead of a more formal presentation setting. Lisa Kay Solomon offers some helpful advice on applying a storytelling mindset in situations like this.
  • If you’re crafting a story to convince your CEO to invest in brand (feels like a common battle these days, unfortunately), BBH Labs has thoughtfully collected a slew of data points you can weave into your narrative.

Try This

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. We love this 5-minute exercise from Mark Pollard, designed to help you craft a better presentation by helping you zero in on your most important points.


Wise Words

He wasn’t perfect but it’s hard to fault Napoleon on the leadership front. Keep these words in mind as you shape your story and lead the charge towards a better future.

Issue #68
May 5, 2019

Further Reading