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



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SMQ Issue3 digital
Dünyanın 13 Ən Yaxşı Riyaziyyat Məktəbi, BİOKİMYA, BİOKİMYA, Airbnb Pitch Deck, magistrimthn, riyazi mentiq

HOW DOES IT END?

The end result of telling a story is to 

convey a message. If you want your 

audience to feel something, or take 

action, keep the ending in mind with 

every word you write. For instance, if 

your goal is to tell the story of how your 

product addressed a business challenge, then the story should 

end with the customer result, including real ROI numbers, so 

it’s tangible, believable and honest.



WHOSE STORY ARE WE TELLING?

As humans and brands, we tend to talk about ourselves; howev-

er, storytelling is not the place for this. The more you can tell 

the stories of others, the more engaging and interesting you’ll 

become. Telling the stories of customers, partners and employ-

ees will get more interest than a story about your brand, because 

you’re creating a person-to-person connection with your story. 

Your reader should relate to the story. Make it about them.



WHERE DO YOU SOURCE THE STORY?

If your story is not about you, then where do you get the infor-

mation? The best place to start is with your audience. If you’re 

telling customer stories, reach out to your customers and ask 

them to share their stories. Start with those customers that 

enjoy talking to you. These customers leave product reviews, 

speak at conferences about you, and answer questions about 

your product on Twitter. This is your low hanging fruit.

Interview and record the conversation. Have a planned list 

of questions going in, and a transcriber on standby.



HOW CAN THE STORY BE SHARED IN OTHER WAYS?

Consider how you can slice and dice a story. Start big and 

broad, with all of your supportive assets driving back to that 

bigger story. 



W

Give your stories the impact they need by answering these 5 questions



STORYTELLING 

CAN TAKE THE 

MUNDANE 

AND MAKE IT 

INTERESTING

Amanda Nelson

is Director, 

Community 

Marketing at 

Salesforce.



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Ads.indd   15

17/05/2018   17:18



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

 The best 

 TED Talks on 

 Storytelling



S

You can search each of these fascinating  

storytelling talks by name at 

www.TED.com, and 

in the process you’ll find more related inspiration.

torytelling is no simple, off-the-peg 

strategy. As these TED talks reveal, it’s a 

complex and nuanced art, a fundamen-

tal aspect of being human that can drive 

powerfully positive, or powerfully negative results. 

Stories engage and inspire, but they also manipu-

late and mislead. That’s why learning to challenge 

the stories you hear can be just as important as 

learning to tell new ones. Here’s our hand-picked 

selection of the best TED Talks on stories: why they 

matter, how to construct better ones and where 

they might lead us in the future:



WHY STORIES MATTER

Need convincing about the importance of story-

telling for marketers? Try Yuval Noah Harari’s talk, 

T H E   B R I E F



Gearoid Buckley explores the best TED insights on the 

science, meaning and potential of stories



What explains the rise of humans? The answer  

(no prizes for guessing) is stories, but not necessar-

ily, the type of stories you’d expect. Harari explains 

how our ability to create new fictional realities is 

what separates us from animals, and has given 

birth to companies, brands, nations, even money. 



HOW TO TELL A GREAT STORY

Much has been written about formulas for the 

perfect story. Andrew Stanton, the writer behind 

Toy Story and Wall-E, rejects some of those ideas 

and embraces others in a hugely entertaining talk, 



The clues to a great story, that’s a must for anyone 

looking to make an audience care. In a world where 

marketers face intensifying competition for atten-

tion, this is an essential guide not only to creating a 

great story, but making that story count.

STORIES THAT TRANSFORM?  

OR STORIES THAT LIMIT?

Stories have the potential to free our minds, punch 

holes in preconceptions and generate empathy 

that crosses nations and cultural boundaries. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens. 

In 


The danger of a single story, Nigerian author 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores how single, 

dominant, stereotypical stories can be used to 

reinforce power relationships and disenfranchise 

whole groups of people. It’s a theme continued by 

Turkish-born novelist Elif Shafak, in her talk on 



The politics of fiction. Both of these authors argue 

passionately against a world with preconceptions 

about the types of stories different people should 

tell. As Adichie puts it, stereotypes aren’t wrong, 

they are just incomplete stories. You won’t change 

people’s perceptions by conforming to them.



THE VALUE OF CHALLENGING THE STORY

Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on 



The unheard story  

of David and Goliath is not only a brilliant 

telling of a story you thought you knew, but also 

a masterclass in looking at established stories 

from different perspectives. Don’t just accept the  

narrative around your category. There is often 

a more unexpected, profound and illuminating 

story hiding below the surface.

THE FUTURE OF STORIES

As the media landscape evolves, what new forms 

will storytelling take? In 

The visual magic of comics

artist Scott McCloud shares some fascinating 

insights on how to evolve storytelling techniques 

when the creative canvas keeps changing.



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

Andrew Monu grew up on the receiving end of ignorant profiling, and promised himself never to let 

bias affect his own judgments of people. He explains why that’s such a difficult promise to keep



hen I was 19, I was rollerblading in a near-empty car park, 

practising doing circles and going backwards. That was a big 

manoeuvre for me back then! I was really starting to get the hang 

of it when a loud voice broke my concentration. “You there!”

It was a woman’s voice coming from the tennis court next to the 

car park. At first I wasn’t sure that she was addressing me, so I carried on 

skating. In the corner of my eye, I could see the woman signalling to her 

tennis partner to halt the game. She was now walking across the tennis 

court towards me. Her voice became more and more irritable.

“Yes, you! You there!” She banged her tennis racket against the mesh 

fence of the tennis court. “What do you think you’re doing?”

At 19, I’d already been subjected to enough ignorant profiling to know 

what she was getting at. A black kid, especially a young black man, could 

only have been up to no good, despite every indication to the contrary. 

I stopped skating and looked up at her. Despite my anger, I somehow 

managed to stay calm and to keep my voice even. These are the words 

that came out of my mouth:

“I was actually trying to steal your car.” I said, nonchalantly gesturing 

around the car park. “Which one is it?”

The woman was dumbstruck; rooted to the spot 

like I’d just served an ace down the middle. Take 

that! I thought. I had said to her face what she was 

thinking all along. I turned away and carried on 

skating in the same spot. Now I’d love to tell you 

that I did a little mic drop and that was the end of 

it, but that’s not how this story goes. Five minutes 

later, I was pushed up against the door of a police 

car with my hands held behind my back by an 

officer. My guess was that they’d called the police 

before the woman had even started talking to me.

I was angry because this woman simply didn’t 

see me for who I actually was. I was a studious, 

hard-working kid, who had never stolen anything. 

She didn’t ‘see’ me. She didn’t even bother to look. 

And so she saw something else entirely, a work of 

fiction based on her own prejudice.

I’m telling you this story because of a promise I 

made to myself. I told myself that I would never be 

that person at the tennis court. I would never jump 

to conclusions about people. But twenty years later, 

I have broken that oath many times over. I carry 

bias in almost everything that I do. We all do. But 

the more I work on managing my biases, the better I 

get. Why am I telling you this? I hope that by admit-

ting to my preconceived ideas, I can help others to 

be more aware of their own, and that’s a vital part of 

building an inclusive workplace.

HERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT I TRY 

TO REMIND MYSELF ON A DAILY BASIS:

You bring the bias with you 

I believe strongly in the importance of being 

yourself at work. It’s  non-negotiable. But while it’s 

important for my personal wellbeing, bringing my 

true self to work can come at a price for those who 

work with me. I have bias. Both conscious and 

unconscious. Whether it’s during that interview 

where I decided early on that I wasn’t really feeling 

the candidate. Or how I assume that the middle 

class, death metal-loving white guy has nothing in 

common with me.

The bigger you are, the bigger the impact

The more power and influence you have, the more 

damage your bias can cause. When John Amaechi 

OBE came to speak at LinkedIn recently about the 

importance of discussions around race and inclu-

sion, he used the funny analogy of how managers 

are like giants who tower above their employees. 

The point stayed with me: we must watch where we 

tread as we will have a lasting impact on our teams 

- good and bad.

WHY BEING 

CONSCIOUS OF 

YOUR BIAS

IS THE FIRST STEP

W

T H E   B R I E F



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S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       17

Stop thinking that this doesn’t  

apply to you

Many of us believe we’re too ‘enlightened’ to be 

biased. We have travelled, have a diverse group of 

friends and are liberal at heart. Things like racial, 

gender or sexuality bias are problems that belong 

to past generations, right? Sorry, but not true. 

This isn’t about overt prejudice. It’s about how 

you inform your decisions, which can be harder 

to unpick. There are dozens of reasons why I 

carry bias. It could be my African upbringing, my 

immigrant experience or my professional life.

Here’s an interesting test to see what might be 

shaping your bias. Write down the 10 friends who 

you trust the most in the world. And you can’t 

include family - no cheating. Then break down 

their key characteristics such as ethnicity, educa-

tion level, class, sexuality. When I did this, it opened 

my eyes. Although I pride myself on the fact that my 

closest friends are mixed racially and socio-eco-

nomically, every one identifies as cisgender and 

heterosexual. I don’t occupy as diverse a piece of 

the world as I thought, and I need to change that.



Don’t ‘tut’. Pick up the litter around you

John Amaechi OBE talks about how tolerating bad 

behavior is like letting litter build up around the 

office. He points out how many of us just ‘tut’, when 

colleagues say inappropriate things about our 

female, gay, white or black colleagues. Just like litter, 

we view each instance as ‘too small’ an issue and we 

let it go. And before we know it, we’re surrounded by 

it. And that becomes part of our culture.

Be open to uncomfortable 

conversations

I’m not saying that bias is good, but denying its 

existence is so much worse. It gets in the way 

of meaningful conversations that could lead 

to better understanding. Acknowledging that 

you’re not perfect makes you more open to 

learning. Hopefully, that means that I can feel 

comfortable telling my white colleague that I 

don’t appreciate the term ‘colored’ without him 

thinking that his card is marked and without me 

feeling like I’m now viewed as someone with a 

chip on his shoulder.

Bias is not someone else’s problem. We all have 

a role to play to create a more inclusive workplace. 

That’s why I volunteer as part of Embrace, LinkedIn’s 

Employee Resource Group. The aim of the group is 

to overcome unconscious bias and build a sense 

of belonging by embracing cultural, national and 

ethnic diversity at every level of our organization. I 

hope that one day this becomes the new norm and 

the group becomes redundant. Until then, we have 

some work to do. Together. 

“I’M NOT SAYING 

THAT BIAS IS 

GOOD, BUT 

DENYING ITS 

EXISTENCE IS SO 

MUCH WORSE”



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This is a great time for any B2B marketer interested in 

accessing original thinking and inspiration. Here are 50 blogs 

that I wouldn’t want to be without:

W0RDS BY J



ASON MILLER

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S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       19

SEO


It’s one of the fastest-moving areas of marketing and a  

skillset that every marketer needs. These blogs will help to 

keep you where it’s at on search trends:

1.

 BLIND FIVE YEAR OLD

Blind Five Year Old is an SEO agency and blog run by AJ 

Kohn. The name comes from a tried-and-tested SEO philos-

ophy: treat search engines like they are blind five year-olds. 

It’s technical but very authoritative and a must-read if you’re 

passionate about search.



http://www.blindfiveyearold.com

2.

 SEARCH ENGINE JOURNAL

Mixing news, tips and tactics, this is applied search marketing 

wisdom with some great insights for marketers.

http://www.searchenginejournal.com

3.

 BACKLINKO

Link-building is still a woefully under-appreciated art in 

SEO and content marketing. Brian Dean’s blog dispenses 

much-needed, practical wisdom that can make a real differ-

ence to your content visibility.

https://backlinko.com

4.

 TUBULAR INSIGHTS (FORMERLY REELSEO)

If you’re planning a role for video content in your strategy then 

you need to follow this blog. It’s where you find the real juice 

on what works and what doesn’t,  in both the technical and the 

creative sense.

http://tubularinsights.com

5.

 MOZ

The grand-daddy of all SEO blogs, founded by the legendary 

Rand Fishkin. It will keep you on top of all the latest develop-

ments in search, with plenty of inspiration mixed in.



https://moz.com/blog

6.

 SEARCH ENGINE LAND

More news-focused than the other SEO blogs that I follow, this 

one gives me absolute confidence that I’m on top of everything 

I need to know.



https://searchengineland.com

7.

 SEO BY THE SEA

I think of this as a living encyclopedia of search. It takes 

a research-led approach to SEO issues as they come up, 

combing through published material from the search engines 

to piece together how things actually work.

http://www.seobythesea.com

T H E   B R I E F



5

3

I was updating my Feedly RSS feed last month as part of a 

digital spring clean, and two things struck me: firstly, I follow 

a lot of creativity and marketing-related blogs; secondly, I 

wouldn’t want to be without any of them. Here are the 50 that I 

follow most religiously. I believe any B2B marketer will benefit 

from making space for them in their feed:



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

Marketing and 

advertising

From content marketing to demand and lead generation and 

proving ROI, these are the blogs I turn to for industry news 

and inspiration:

8.

 CONTENT MARKETING INSTITUTE

From the ups and downs of working with content agencies to 

the nuts and bolts of building a content calendar, with plenty 

of top-level tips on formats from podcasts to webinars: this is 

a feed must-have for content marketers. You’ll find plenty of 

great in-depth resources too.



http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/blog

9.

 CONVINCE AND CONVERT

Jay Baer is one of the most entertaining, original and insightful 

voices out there on content. His blog stands out for its focus on 

linking content back to the bottom line. You want evidence, 

numbers and ROI? This blog will help you deliver them.

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/blog

10.

 SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMINER

Your ‘guide to the social media jungle’ delivers a regular flow 

of ‘how-to’ posts that answer some of the most pressing practi-

cal questions you’re likely to have as a content marketer.



https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com

11.

 MARTECH

There’s a great mix of technology-related content on here, 

including broader issues of how marketing and tech intersect. 

The real value, though, is in the podcasts: practical insights 

from real experts on different emerging platforms.

https://martech.zone

12.

 COPYBLOGGER

Copyblogger founder Brian Clark is one of the pioneers of B2B 

content marketing. This blog reflects that legacy: packed with 

resources (the podcasts are particularly good), but also explor-

ing all aspects of what it means to be a content marketer today.

https://www.copyblogger.com/blog

13.

 MARKETING INSIDER

Michael Brenner is the author of The Content Formula and one of 

the most widely shared thought-leaders on LinkedIn SlideShare, 

which makes his blog an essential addition to your feed.



https://marketinginsidergroup.com/blog

14.

 MARKETING LAND

Broad-ranging, authoritative and current, with around five 

new posts a day on average: Marketing Land is a great source 

for the digital marketing news that you won’t necessarily get 

from the mainstream marketing press. It’s not afraid of a good 

strong opinion either.



https://marketingland.com

15.

 MARKETINGPROFS

Any blog associated with my friend and mentor Ann Handley 

is guaranteed to deliver smart, alternative opinions that are 

sharply expressed. The MarketingProfs blog doesn’t disap-

point. Add it to your feed and you’ll find a regular stream of 

alternative perspectives on life as a content marketer. You’ll 

also get a heads up on MarketingProfs’ new resources (some 

of the best in the business), as they’re launched.



https://www.marketingprofs.com/opinions

16.

 KISSMETRICS

Metrics and analytics remain a blind spot for many content 

marketing strategies. This blog is on a mission to remedy that. 

It focuses on the outcomes you need and then works back to 

explore the techniques that can get you there.

https://blog.kissmetrics.com

17.

 INTERNETMARKETINGNINJAS

Great name, and a very canny blog approaching internet 

marketing from an SEO perspective.

https://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/blog

18.

 AIMCLEAR

It promises “digital marketing news with side of snark” and I 

honestly can’t think of a better description for what AimClear 

serves up. It’s a living example of how you can pep up content 

by stirring a bit of attitude and energy into it.

http://www.aimclearblog.com

T H E   B R I E F



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S o p h i s t i c a t e d   M a r k e t e r       21

19.

 ADAGE

AdAge is still one of marketing’s most authoritative 

thought-leadership brands, and that’s reflected in the heavy-

weight line-up of columnists on this blog.



http://adage.com/blogs

20.

 ADLAND

Savvy, smart and plugging you straight into the creative 

side of marketing: I get a regular top-up of creative inspi-

ration from Adland.



https://adland.tv

21.

 ADRANTS

Out-there opinions, occasionally off-message, and always 

interesting whether you agree with them or not: that’s what 

you get with this blog.



http://www.adrants.com

22.

 OGILVY ON OUR MINDS

Tapping you straight into the thinking of a global agency, with 

perspectives and practical advice from across different markets.

https://www.ogilvy.com


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