CMO’s: Can this simple exercise help you tell more successful stories?

Click on the photo for the Sustainable Storytelling PDFAll great marketers are storytellers. Yet, too often, we get tripped up over the science of branding and strategy, get ensnared in the numbers, and lose sight of the real power of advertising: Crafting and telling a great story about the product, person, service or cause we’re selling. That’s right, SELLING!

Thespians have been using that term for years. “Get out there on stage and SELL IT!”


The Selling is in the Telling.

I’ve been doing several workshops lately on the power of crafting better stories, and I need your help.

We created a simple one-page work sheet with this premise: Capture the pragmatics of left-brain intellectual thinking and migrate these strategic factoids to the romance of the right brain where your engaging story is created.

Test Drive our Sustainable Storytelling Worksheet

Storytelling worksheetDo you have a story you’re dying to tell? Or is your brand story not resonating as well as you like? Want to give it a try?

  1. Download the sustainable storytelling worksheet SustainableStorytellingWrksht
  2. Fold down the center of the page on the dotted line folding the right side of the page behind the left side.
  3. Now on the left side of the page, write your answers in the margins below each thought.
  4. Once completed, it’s recommended to go have a beer, glass of wine, or some other vice, and let your brain simmer for awhile.
  5. Return, unfold the page, now write your story in the red lines on the right side of the page. You don’t have to worry about writing “War & Peace” because you don’t have that much room. Please use focused, active and descriptive words to bring your black-and-white thinking into color.
  • Describe your “Hero” from your brand statement
  • Tell us your “Back story.”
  • Your challenges and opportunities create your “Inciting Incident” that has turned your world upside-down, for better or worse. Every great story has one. What’s yours?
  • Your communication goals are your “End game.” How do you want your story to end?
  • Finger your antagonists. Identify the competition, people, economic and environmental forces, finances, doubters, you name it, that stand in your way.
  • Now move into Act II, “The Love Story.” Write about the people/customers that you need to marshal to help you achieve your goals, what they care about, and how you help them achieve their goals.
  • Now pen your finale; how your character will arch from Hero to Victor, despite all of the ugly nastiness of market dynamics in between.

Please let me know how this exercise works for you. I believe you can use this worksheet for everything from creating your brand position strategy, to a creative brief for a comprehensive campaign, to messaging for individual ads, to internal communications. What do you think?

14 Comments On This Topic
  1. Amity posted
    March 3, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    It’s brilliant! I just used it for a current client and had a completely new idea in the “How will you convert them?” section. The story began to flow before I even finished the strategy side.

    Well done & thanks for a great tool!

  2. Park posted
    March 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I’m glad it worked for you as well. I used it in a roomful of members of the Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce, and they had fun working through it. I was amazed at how quickly you can get out of the left brain thinking and into the romance of the right brain and storytelling.

  3. Steve Shanahan posted
    March 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Brilliant job of telling a story about a story telling!

  4. Park posted
    March 4, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Thanks Steve. Have you tried the form? Anything I’m missing?

  5. terry posted
    March 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Brilliant job Park. Is there a way you can
    send me an example of one.


  6. Coach Pete Walsh posted
    March 5, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Thanks Park! I’m not sure how that actually worked but it did! My story emerged and it gave me great clarity! Love it!

  7. Park posted
    March 5, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Good morning, Terry. When you mean “example,” do you mean a story that has been crafted using the storytelling form?

  8. Park posted
    March 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Pete, I saw how you worked the form and loved the title for your new book that came from it. Well done, and I’m glad it worked so well for you.

  9. Bob Ragsdale posted
    March 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Simple. Nice.

  10. Green marketing - online social media strategy | posted
    March 23, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    [...] And remember, it all starts by telling better stories. [...]

  11. Kate Moore posted
    March 29, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Love the form design and can’t wait to get to work! Just checking – there isn’t another question after “How/when will you know you have won?” – is there? I see the little + box which is Pages-speak for ‘hey there’s more text in here!’ and don’t want to miss anything. Although really, I suppose after knowing if/when you’ve won what more could there be? ;) Thanks for sharing.

  12. Park posted
    March 29, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Good eye, Kate, on the “Pages +” but no, there are no additional questions. Please let me know how it works for you. Have a great week.

  13. Storytelling, marketing, advertising, branding | posted
    November 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    [...] you got the strength, download the Storytelling Worksheet, (Here are the brief instructions) fill it out, and share YOUR story below. Then, see where it takes [...]

  14. Jonathan posted
    November 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I definitely take a more thorough look on this!

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