Gary Vaynerchuk: Stop Storytelling Like it’s 2007

Please note: This talk contains adult language.

In a world with Vine, Snapchat, and Twitter, how can creatives capture attention to make their voices heard?

In this 99U talk, best-selling author and founder of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk breaks down how our work can cut through our current “A.D.D. Culture” — one where we binge-watch entire television seasons in one sitting and prefer texting to phone calls.

“We’ve gotten to a point where everything is on our time,” says Vaynerchuk, “So why is everyone storytelling like it’s 2007 in a 2014 world?” The best digital storytellers, he says, use the social media to “hook” audiences in for the deeper stuff. We should give, give again, and give some more before ever asking for anything from our community. “We have to start respecting the nuances of every platform.”

0:39 no matter what you do, our job us to tell our story
1:44 storytelling in micro moments
4:05 storytelling on social
8:14 quality storytelling always wins
8:34 social networks = distribution
10:30 biggest asset: time
11:56 eyes and ears “attention is the only commodity”
12:58 “give, give, give, ask”
13:30 give people happy stories, make them laugh
14:51 we have to act human.

Are You Indispensable?

It’s been 5 years since Seth Godin’s first visit to Orange County. I went with a few colleagues not knowing what to expect. Since then, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? has become one of my favorite books and I’ve bought many copies to give out to friends. He left us with a charge to think differently about branding & marketing; to think differently about what we make. He told us to make art, give gifts, do work that matters, connect, lead, ship, and make a difference.

Brian Elliot of thegoodbrain.com, former Universal Home Entertainment exec with 15+ years in brand strategy, production, DVD and original content, hosted that evening’s keynote with Seth Godin. This morning, he FINALLY received permission from Godin to post his epic full-length keynote and emailed the link to a bunch of us who were there. There were about 900 people in attendance that day, back in 2010, at the the St. Regis Hotel to hear Seth LIVE. His message about being “indispensable” is even more relevant today.

If you don’t know Godin, he’s the godfather of modern marketing, bestselling author of more than a dozen biz books and has one of the most read blogs on the planet. I hope you enjoy this rare treat!

Be Irreplaceable

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.20.53 AMAs a branding/marketing specialist, I’m regularly asked to find creative ways to annihilate the competition, or least give them a run for their money. The easiest way to do this is to highlight what is uniquely yours, what makes you irreplaceable. Once you show up as a unique option in the sea of mundane mediocrity, you will be noticed. Not everyone will love that unique part of you, but the goal is not to get everyone to like you and follow you. The goal is the hunt down the consumers, the followers, the fans who will fall in love with your uniqueness and follow you to the ends of the earth. The ones who have been secretly wanting what you have to offer.

To Blog or Not to Blog

The saying “Content is King” in marketing is more true than most would like to admit. But have we considered that the content we write actually makes us better. Pausing to conceptualize and effectively communicate a thought in two or three paragraphs pushes our intellect and our depth of understanding concerning ourselves and our brand. And for the most partit’s free!

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The Humility of the Artist

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post this morning and it profoundly hit the nail on the head. Here’s what he said,

It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn’t that arrogant?

No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.

Knowing who you are and where you are going is branding. That is the brand, whether the brand is you, a product or service. Being confident in allowing your brand to be itself is not arrogantit is strategic. We must be artists, creators, innovators; we are all original.

I asked a client (singer/songwriter) the other day in a session, “Who was Michael Jackson like?” “What about Prince? Or Miles Davis?” The answer, obviously was no one. They were confident in being themselves and they created forms of music that no one before them had created. We don’t really consider musicians who followed in their footsteps to be legends. Being legendary requires being unique, different. It required these artists to be themselves, not attempting to please everyone, but pushing to have personal integrity and originality in their work.

Michael Jackson Prince Miles DavisNo one can be you. There is no competition to you. When you choose to be yourself and stay focused on a clear path, you don’t really compete with anyone. You now have something unique. Now all you have to do is market, effectively tell your story to a specific demographic. Branding and marketing…defining who you are, where you are going, and sharing that story effectively. 

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What Does the Fox Say?

Love what Seth Godin had to say about the newest viral music video on YouTube.

The viral music video of the moment is right here.

The question for the marketer, music or otherwise, isn’t, “what are the hooks and tricks I use to go viral?” No, the question is, “is it worth it?”

What does the fox say has the hooks and tricks in abundance. It has Archie McPhee animal costumes, nonsense words, just the right sort of production values, superfluous subtitles, appropriate silliness. It would probably help the cause to add spurious nudity, but give them points for getting the rest of it right.

To what end?

If your work goes viral, if it gets seen by tens of millions of people, sure you can profit from that. But most of the time, it won’t. Most of the time, you’ll aim to delight the masses and you’ll fail.

I’m glad that some people are busy trying to entertain us in a silly way now and then. But it doesn’t have to be you doing the entertaining–the odds are stacked against you.

So much easier to aim for the smallest possible audience, not the largest, to build long-term value among a trusted, delighted tribe, to create work that matters and stands the test of time.

“Baby bump bump bay dum.”

Telling Stories

When I sit with a potential client for the first time, I do my best to help them understand what it is I do. I help them understand that designing is secondary and so is their logo, their website and all the print collateral they will likely want to create. I help them understand the art of storytelling. What is their brand’s story? What will woo the masses to fall in love with them? It’s always an interesting conversation. I told one client, you pay me to give you permission to be yourself and to tell your story the way it was meant to be shared. They agreed.

Here is a great little article from Prashant Pinge from Media Panther about storytelling…enjoy.

Stories take people away from the vagaries of life, from the harsh reality that they find themselves trapped in. Stories allow a person to suspend disbelief, to believe in fantasies, to visit different worlds. Stories give people the opportunity to live those few moments vicariously, to experience what they otherwise never would. Stories inspire people to pursue lofty goals, to hope that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Stories do all this, provided they are told well.

Branding is also about storytelling. But brands are very real. However, it is through their stories that people can really connect with them. A plain product remains functional. It performs its duties and is relegated back to anonymity. A brand on the other hand performs the function of the product. It also provides an escape of sorts to the consumer, creating an emotional connect to form a long-lasting relationship. And if its story is a truly gripping one, it also allows the consumer to express themselves through its use. That is the hallmark of a story truly well told. For instance, Apple’s story provides all three benefits.

When telling a story, it is important to keep in mind the audience. The story is not about the storyteller, it is about what pulls the audience in. A great brand does exactly that. It intrigues the mind, it appeals to the heart, and it engages the senses until the experience is a truly unique and memorable one, one that the consumer can keep going back to again and again. A stellar example is the Harley Davidson story. The consumer becomes willing to suspend any doubt, to step into the fantasy, to truly enjoy the experience, to be inspired and ultimately, to become one with the brand.

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