M a r k e t e r the seven plots all stories must follow



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SMQ Issue3 digital
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QUARTERLY

THE

M A R K E T E R

THE SEVEN PLOTS ALL 

STORIES MUST FOLLOW

LESSONS OF OSCAR-

WINNING MOVIES

CONTENT MARKETING: 

STRATEGY OR TACTIC?

I s s u e   3   Q u a r t e r   2   2 0 1 8

WHY THEY 

MATTER AND 

HOW TO TELL 

BETTER ONES

the 50 best 

marketing blogs

BRIAN SOLIS ON 

THE STORYTELLING 

CHALLENGE

THE 


MAGIC 

OF 


 seth  godin

  

on stories  



vs anecdotes

STORIES


15      S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r

Ads.indd   15

17/05/2018   16:53


S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       3

O

nce upon a time storytelling was something 



that parents did at bedtime, or novelists did 

when their publisher asked for a book, or film 

directors did to win an Oscar. It wasn’t part of 

any marketer’s job description, and it certainly wasn’t a 

skill they would list on their LinkedIn profile.

Then, suddenly, in 2012, everything changed. In just 

two years, storytelling went from something no market-

er mentioned about themselves to an essential market-

ing skill, one listed by almost 10% of marketers world-

wide as part of what they do.

What changed? Why did marketers suddenly decide 

that they needed to tell better stories? And have we 

really learned what it means to be a storyteller? These 

are the questions we answer in this special issue of The 



Sophisticated Marketer Quarterly as we dive into 

the state of storytelling in marketing.

In our special features, we’ll be exploring 

what storytelling really means to marketers: 

the challenges it lays down, the opportunities 

it opens up, and the reasons why it’s such an 

effective form of communication for both B2B 

and B2C. We talk to Brian Solis about why he 

believes storytelling principles need to trans-

form marketing and future-proof it in the 

process. We use the 7 plots of stories to challenge wheth-

er brands have what it takes to be genuine storytellers, 

and we’ve got bags of practical advice from experts 

on how to develop your proposition into a genuinely 

compelling story.

You’ll find all of our regular features too, plus our 

exclusive ranking of the 50 best blogs for B2B market-

ers, lessons and inspiration from Oscar-winning movies, 

TED talks and punk rock bands, and how to tell if you 

really have a content marketing strategy.



That’s the story of this issue. We hope you enjoy it!

FROM THE TEAM



 

WELCOME TO OUR STORYTELLING SPECIAL ISSUE

Cream

Publishing

Cream Publishing, Adur Business Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex BN43 5EG.



THE TEAM:

 

EDITORS Jason Miller 



I

 Jane Fleming 

I

 Christina O’Connor 

I  

Megan Golden 



Alex Rynne 

I

 Sean Callahan 



Kylee Lessard 



Steve Kearns 

I  


CONTRIBUTORS Nico Lutkins 

I

 Keith Browning 



Tom Pepper 



Gearoid Buckley 

I  

Andrew Monu 



Ashraf Kamel 



Amanda Nelson 



Gini Dietrich



FOR CREAM PUBLISHING: 

CONSULTANT EDITOR Matthew Cowen 

I

  

ART DIRECTOR Tim Mapleston 

I

 

DESIGNER Vicky Trainer 



I

 

PUBLISHER Victoria Furness



lnkd.in/EMEA-Blog

lnkd.in/US-Blog



15      S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r

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3-16-2018 10:38 AM



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at a scale of None

Julio Matos



by

Data is never the whole story. If you use it as we do, creatively and inventively, it 

has the power to bring brands together with the right people at the right time. But for 

something more to happen there must be a spark of connection, some humanly relevant meaning 

in the moment. Precision needs feelings. And our ability to bring those two together is why 

we’re the first global creative B2B powerhouse that’s truly full service.

gyro.com

S:180.975 mm

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Ads.indd   15

17/05/2018   16:55


C O N T E N T S

SPECIAL FEATURES



WHY THE ART OF STORYTELLING 

IS ALL IN THE MINDSET

Nico Lutkins on the neuroscience that 

makes storytelling so important.

THE RISE OF STORYTELLING 

LinkedIn data shows how storytelling 

went from a sideline to an essential 

marketing skill. 



BRIAN SOLIS: STORYTELLING CAN 

SAVE MARKETING

The bestselling author explains how 

marketing needs to evolve, and how 

telling stories can help. 



THERE ARE ONLY SEVEN STORIES. 

ARE YOU TELLING ONE OF THEM?

Keith Browning on the seven plots 

that all stories must follow.

08

46



52

56

08



52

46

56



T H E   S T O R Y T E L L I N G   I S S U E

6      S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r

C O N T E N T S



ESSENTIAL WISDOM FROM 

THE SOPHISTICATED  

MARKETER’S PODCAST

The best of Season Six of our 

podcast, starring Seth Godin, 

Scott Stratten and David Shing.



THE ART OF TELLING 

STANDOUT STORIES

Amanda Nelson of Salesforce 

explains how answering five 

questions can help create 

compelling B2B stories.

THE BEST TED TALKS  

ON STORYTELLING

Gearoid Buckley selects the best 

TED inspiration on the art and 

science of stories



CONFRONTING  

UNCONSCIOUS BIAS

Andrew Monu explains why 

being on the receiving end of bias 

doesn’t make you immune to it.



50 GREAT B2B  

MARKETING BLOGS

The 50 blogs every B2B  

marketer should follow.

YOUR 5-STEP GUIDE TO A 

GREAT B2B BRAND STORY

Gini Dietrich on the art of 

compelling B2B brand building.

TOOLBOX

Trends, top tips, insights 

and inspiration.

HOW TO MAKE A QUICK AND 

EASY PROFESSIONAL VIDEO

FOR LINKEDIN

Take control of video content and 

give yourself creative options.

THE SECRETS OF EPIC 

STORYTELLING THROUGH DATA

LinkedIn Learning’s Paul Petrone 

explains why data needs stories.

 

HOW TO SET UP A SUCCESSFUL



MARKETING TEAM

Great insights from IBM’s UK and 

Ireland CMO, Lisa Gilbert.

ASTONISHING TALES: 

How a tire brand became the 

ultimate authority on fine dining.

11

13



15

16

18



25

27

34



37

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42



60

69

41



42

S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       7

SIX BIG IDEAS

Tom Pepper explores the  

latest thinking on voice-based 

brands, video content,  

purpose and more.

WHY CONTENT MARKETING  

STRATEGY MATTERS 

Not all content marketing  

is strategic, but it certainly  

should be.



HOW WATCHING  

OSCAR WINNING FILMS  

CAN HELP YOUR  

CONTENT MARKETING

Inspiration from Forrest Gump



GladiatorCrash and  

The Silence of the Lambs.

‘THIS IS US’  

AND THE SECRETS  

OF EMOTIONAL  

CONTENT

The formula behind  

emotional rollercoaster  

content that TV audiences  

can’t resist.

THE LAST RING HOME

How one marketer turned  

a family secret into an  

award-winning film.



THE MARKETING GENIE 

The proof that marketing 

solutions content can  

make for a surprisingly  

cute bedtime story!

FRESH SPIN

How a side-hustle as a DJ helps 

one LinkedIn marketer hit the 

right notes. 



WHAT’S IN YOUR BAG

LinkedIn’s award-winning 

marketer, Alex Rynne.

21 QUESTIONS WITH  

KATE HOWE

The CEO of gyro talks media 

transparency, integration and 

zombie apocalypses.



CONTENT HEROES:  

DESPERATE BICYCLES

What marketers should learn 

from a pioneering punk band. 

44

60



64

67

69



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75



77

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44

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8      S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r

lot of time is spent discussing the art and craft of storytelling  

as it applies to marketing. But there’s a crucial part of the 

science behind stories that gets far less attention than it 

should. Stories aren’t just written and produced in the studio 

and creative department; they are co-created in the minds 

of the audience. And for this reason, the mindset of the 

audience you are telling a story to has a huge influence 

over how effective that story will be.



STORIES AS SUBSTITUTE MEMORIES

Neuroscentifically speaking, the way that a listener 

or reader experiences a story mimics the creation 

of their own most important and influential 

memories. And this is where storytelling’s unique 

power comes from. We don’t remember the story 

as something that happened to somebody else; we 

recall, imagine and relive it as if it happened to us. 

We apply it to our own lives.

Great stories achieve this through a potent 

memory package: a sort of mental slam dunk 

combining all of the elements that are required 

to form powerful ‘affective’ memories. These are 

the memories that we can feel rather than just 

recall. They spring to mind unbidden whether we 

ask them to or not, and they therefore have a huge 

influence over our choices. 

Stories create such powerful memories because 

they connect characters, facts and events in a way 

that satisfies our urge to make sense of things. They 

use emotion to flood the brain with chemicals that 

strengthen our neural connections and form more 

powerful associations and memories. Above all, 

they convince us that they are worth remember-

ing by aligning with the things that matter most to 

us, but doing so in a novel, attention-grabbing way 

that we’ve never quite experienced before.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT STORY?

It is the alignment with our deeper 

motivations that is the most crucial 

factor in any story’s success. If it 

doesn’t bring to mind something 

that our brain considers important, 

we won’t commit to it as listen-

ers. We won’t reshuffle our mental 

connections to accommodate it, 

and we won’t release the power-

ful emotion-derived chemicals that 

ensure it influences us in the future.

Standard, run-of-the-mill storytellers push the 

most obvious emotional buttons with reference to 

children, families and romance; but this approach 

doesn’t often translate into long-term influence. 

The brain does the equivalent of a ‘so-what’ shrug 

and doesn’t bother rewiring our memories around 

the story – because at the end of the day, it’s heard 

it all before. If you want your story to hit home, 

you either need to find a new way to address these 

A

We recall, imagine



and relive stories

as if they are 

happening to us -

we apply them 

to our own lives

T H E   B R I E F



BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE

Nico Lutkins introduces our Storytelling Issue, and explains why this is such an  

important strategy for content marketers targeting  professional audiences.

Why the art 

of 


storytelling

 

is all in the 



mindset

S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       9

themes, or you need to recruit your audience’s deeper and more personal 

motivations; motivations that are touched upon a lot less regularly.

TIME TO MINE SOME DEEPER MOTIVATIONS

This is where mindset and media choice come in. The best brand storytell-

ers (think Dove, Volvo Trucks, GE with The Message podcast or HP casting 

Christian Slater in The Wolf) don’t gravitate towards traditional broadcast 

media as their storytelling platform. They use social 

environments where we are more actively engaged 

and our personal priorities are that bit closer to 

the surface. However as audiences are bombarded 

with more and more stories, the smartest storytell-

ers will start to distinguish between the motiva-

tions and personal priorities in play on different 

social platforms. They will seek out the priorities 

that haven’t been pitched to before.

The professional mindset that B2B marketers 

aim to influence brings a lot of our deepest most 

powerful motivations to the surface. This mindset 

is purposeful, individual and aspirational. It’s 

concerned with establishing and maintaining an 

identity, achieving happiness, fulfilling potential, 

dealing with setbacks. For a storyteller looking 

to achieve real impact and standout, that’s a lot 

of emotional raw material, and it’s often largely 

untapped raw material.

INVITATION TO INNOVATIVE STORYTELLING

It’s not always fashionable to admit it, but storytell-

ing is an inherently interruptive creative strategy. 

Great stories compel us to stop what we are doing 

and pay attention. They do this by talking to what 

truly motivates us, and in doing so, they can exert a 

far deeper influence than other forms of marketing.

For these reasons, it’s very much a myth that 

storytelling is only a valid strategy for B2C brands. 

It’s just as powerful an approach for anyone looking 

to engage and influence B2B audiences. 

BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE


BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE

S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       11

Seth Godin:

The crucial difference 

between anecdotes 

and stories

Seth Godin used the example of “the 

boy cried wolf but the villagers didn’t 

come” to show how a great story 

can involve just nine words. Stories 

are universal because of the way we 

identify with them and the result that leads to. Whether they happened or not is the 

least important thing about them:

“An anecdote is interesting because it happened to you – and it’s only interesting 

because it actually happened. A story is more universal than that. A story involves 

tension, and it involves identity.

“There are wonderful stories that many powerful brands have been built around. 

They’re about identity, about culture and the change that we seek to make. What we do 

when we do great marketing is we tell stories; stories that create tension, stories that 

lead to forward motion.”



This is just a tiny sample of the wisdom that came 

our way during Season Six. You can explore more 

of it in our Sophisticated Marketer’s Book of 

Wisdom, available for free download at  

lnkd.in/marketing-wisdom

Scott Stratten:

“A few thousand extra 

views aren’t worth  

your integrity”

 

The iconoclastic marketing podcaster was stag-



gered by the number of brands who try to lever-

age the news to amp up the virality and impact 

of content. Plenty have ended up celebrating 

death and tragedy as a result, and lost the re-

spect of their audience.

Maria Pergolino:

“You don’t have to invest directly  

in AI to benefit from AI” 

The Anaplan CMO says 

marketers don’t need 

to invest directly in AI 

to benefit from it. Keep 

an eye out for potential 

suppliers and partners 

who are using AI to 

enhance what they can 

do for you. For anyone 

feeling intimidated by 

digital transformation

that’s a simple but 

empowering thought.



Jack 

Kosakowski:

“The less you 

talk about 

yourself, the 

more people 

will want to 

talk to you” 

As a marketer, it’s 

easy to assume that 

your sales teams want 

you to sell for them. The CEO of Creation Agency says this is 

the last thing that good sales reps want. They know content 

that goes on and on about how wonderful your products are 

will turn audiences off. The less you talk about yourself, the 

more people want to talk to you. Sales teams want content 

that adds value and complements what they do, not that 

replicates selling.

Pieces of essential wisdom

Season Six of The Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast was by far the biggest in our show’s 

three-year history. Here are just some of the inspiring ideas shared by a star line-up of guests:



FROM THE SOPHISTICATED 

MARKETER’S PODCAST

Dave Shing:

“Brands aren’t  

just seen”

In a voice-led world, brands will 

increasingly be heard, touched and 

sensed in other ways. What does your 

brand sound like? What’s it feel like? 

Does it have a gesture that embodies 

it? Shingy wants all marketers to start 

thinking in different dimensions.

W0RDS BY JASON MILLER

T H E   B R I E F



BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE

Ads.indd   15

17/05/2018   17:15



BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE

S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       13

T H E   B R I E F

Amanda Nelson

 

ON THE ART OF TELLING STANDOUT STORIES

e all tell stories. From 

that 9am meeting about 

a new customer win to 

reading books to your 

child at bedtime, you’re a storyteller. Yet, 

if we’re all storytellers, that equates to a 

heck of a lot of stories. As marketers, we 

must not simply tell stories; we must tell 

standout stories. Standout stories evoke 

emotion, and ideally action. These are the 

stories that inspire, excite and entertain. 

For marketers, storytelling takes 

mundane case studies and press releas-

es and turns them into interesting, 

engaging content. Storytelling works on 

any channel and any medium, wheth-

er it’s a customer quote in a Tweet, 

an in-depth customer interview on a 

webcast, or a massive ebook featuring 

the stories of 100 customers.

How do you find and tell the best 

stories? It’s all about answering the right 

questions before you start writing:

WHO’S ATTENDING 

STORY TIME?

This question is all about 

your audience. Who 

are you trying to reach? 

Understanding your 

audience is crucial to 

telling stories that your 

prospective customers 

(or even current custom-

ers) want to hear. This understanding 

helps you write in their language, address 

their needs, and tell the stories of their 

peers. Establish your audience, so you 

deliver the right message to the right 

audience.


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