Conflict Is Story: What It Means for Marketing Storytellers

Conflict by Joe Kalinowski

Conflict is story. Graphic by Joe Kalinowski based on a photo by Gianluca Ramalho Misiti.

Without conflict, there is no story. It is conflict that defines the story.

Whenever a writer is sharing a story idea with me, I’m listening for the conflict. Specifically, what is preventing the main character from reaching a specific, desired goal. And whenever a marketer references the brand “storytelling,” I’m listening for the same things. Let’s explore…

Without conflict, the story is just a setup. It may be an anecdote or even a nice scenario, but ultimately, great (heck, even good) stories require some sort of conflict. And lest we think this applies only to fiction, this is also relative to brand stories told in marketing. Read on…

Let’s start with a story example. Everyone loves zombies, so let’s make this a story set in the zombie apocalypse. Now, consider your main character Bob. What does Bob want? Does he want to win the zombie-slaying trophy? If so, why? What will winning the trophy be?

It doesn’t matter if Bob is from present day or from the future (a guy from the future fighting zombies is a nice setup!). All that really matter is that Bob wants something and why he wants it can be clearly defined.

There are lots of different theories on story conflicts, but many educators agree there are generally four types of conflict. (Meta irony: Someone will disagree with this.) These are conflicts that work both in fiction, non fiction, and marketing stories.

The four types of conflict: Continue reading

600,000 Years of Health Storytelling (Video)

Check out my presentation on content strategy for the web. This one includes Grok the Caveman, who was the world’s first healthcare educator.

In this presentation, I discuss how our ancestors used visual storytelling to communicate health messages. Our DNA is encoded to respond to visual stories, which we should be leveraging to share health information.

This particular presentation was delivered to our internal staff at Ogilvy CommonHealth in the Parsippany, NJ office. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out my blog post “Epic Tales of Marketing Storytelling.” Continue reading

Comics for Content Marketers

comics-for-content-marketers1-smOver the past three or so years, I’ve been getting up on stage and talking about visual content marketing and what web designers can learn from comic book artists. You can see one of my decks here: “Seven & a Half Tips to Jump Start Your Visual Content Strategy.”

At the end of my presentations, there are always a few people who talk about how they’d like to check out a few comics, but they don’t know where to get started. Or that they’ve walked into a local comic store, were overwhelmed by the choices, and left without buying anything.

Hence, I’ve compiled a list of a few comics that curious, intelligent adults may want to explore. All of this is based on my personal preferences, so your actual mileage may vary. Oh, and none of these have anything to do with content marketing, except that you probably saw me speak at a marketing conference.

Or maybe it’s brain candy that will help you become more effective at visual storytelling.

Continue reading

Infographics and Visual Storytelling with Author Ross Crooks

ross_profile-511x652

Ross Crooks of Column Five Media

Better, more powerful devices have made it possible to tell better, more powerful visual stories. These days, content marketers are discovering that infographics can help express essential information and complex concepts.

Infographics (aka information graphics) are becoming an essential tool for visualizing concepts that may otherwise be locked in databases and spreadsheets. In the hands of skilled designers, infographics strap a jetpack to your data and help it reach a wider audience across multiple devices.

Data visualization is nothing new, but we’re seeing an emergence of innovative techniques for showcasing and sharing ideas. Some infographics are a single static image, while others are complete interactive stories.

For content marketers, infographics represent another way to provide value and engage with their target audience or existing customers. Brands must consider new and creative ways of creating utility, and infographics are becoming a cornerstone of strategic and tactical plans.

I caught up with Ross Crooks Co-Founder And COO of Column Five Media, an agency with offices in Newport Beach, CA and New York that creates visual stories for brands. With his partners Josh Ritchie and Jason Lankow, Crooks co-authored the book INFOGRAPHICS: The Power of Visual Storytelling, an essential guide for anyone interested in visual content strategy. The book is packed with examples and explanations that will help you get started building your own infographics. Continue reading

Epic Interview with Content Marketer Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi at window

Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing

He’s been called the “godfather of content marketing” and with good reason. Long before we were attending content-themed conferences, Joe Pulizzi was trying to convince his clients that content was the next big thing in marketing. It took a few years, but he’s convinced large and small companies to hire Chief Content Officers (CCO) to manage their content marketing efforts.

In a world where the loudest, brashest voices seem to get the most attention, Joe Pulizzi has be spreading the word in his own polite, friendly Midwestern way. He’s a power player in marketing, who hasn’t moved to one of the coasts to work at a power agency. He embraces the town of Cleveland, and if you’ve been to one of the conferences he hosts, you’ll see that Cleveland embraces him right back.

From his early days in custom publishing all the way to being a publisher, Joe Pulizzi is living his craft. He heads the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which was named one of the fastest growing companies by Inc. magazine. CMI is an emerging media powerhouse with a voice in every channel. And consistently, that voice sounds a lot like Joe Pulizzi.

His collaborators and partners, including celebrated speaker Robert Rose, are a who’s-who of marketing gurus. His Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland is one of the must-attend shows for anyone in marketing, not just in the vertical of content marketing. It’s a fun, smart event that reflects the collective charm of the entire CMI staff.

As an author, Joe Pulizzi has published three smart, actionable books on the topic of content marketing. Each is fresh and vital, but Epic Content Marketing is the work of a mature, intelligent ambassador for the entire industry. If you haven’t read it yet, order it from Amazon and put it on the top of the stack on your nightstand.

If Johnny Cash was The Man in Black, then Joe Pulizzi will surely be known as The Man in Orange, due to his citrus-inspired wardrobe. If nothing else, he is consistent in his visual branding.

The book is as unique, colorful, and quietly awesome as Joe Pulizzi himself. It further cements his position as one of the most influential thought leaders in marketing. And if you know this business, that’s saying a lot.

Joe shared some thoughts in an email interview about content marketing, publishing, and the future of content marketing. Continue reading

Brandscaping with Author and Marketer Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, brings personality to marketing.

Andrew Davis is the guy you want on your marketing team. He’s smart, passionate, funny, and has an uncanny knack for nailing it.

His book Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships captures the essential rules of modern digital marketing. And if you had to distill it down to just one idea, it would be that marketing isn’t for loners. These days, you have make some friends and try new things.

And Andrew Davis is very good at identifying good partnerships and great marketing. In his book, he writes about large and small companies that are discovering new customers, simply by thinking beyond their traditional owned, earned, and, well, whatever campaigns.

He is like your favorite coach who both applauds you for reaching a new personal best, but also suggests that you can do better. He deconstructs successful campaigns, admires the work, and then suggests clever ways to make it even better. He’s smart, nimble, and it comes through on every page of his book.

But Andrew Davis is more than a writer. He’s also a surprisingly good speaker. When I met him this year, we were participating in a series of videos for Content Marketing Institute.

At Content Marketing World 2013, Andrew delivered a presentation on Brandscaping: The Secret to Unlocking Bigger Content Marketing Budgets and Driving Faster Results, and was the highest rated presenter at the conference. Not bad, considering the marketing legends at the event.

Despite his non-stop speaking schedule, Andrew found time to participate in an email interview with me.

BUDDY SCALERA: First, can you tell me what your book Brandscaping is all about?

ANDREW DAVIS: Brandscaping is all about leveraging the audiences of others to more effectively and efficiently sell your products and services. Essentially the entire book asks you one question: who already has your next customer as their current customer? Thinking this way opens up tons of new opportunities to work together, creating content that both your audiences will find valuable.
Continue reading

Snikt! Wolverine Infographic Claws Way to Successful Content Strategy

Wolverine Infographic Cropped

Wolverine Infographic Cropped. Click for full-size image.

If you haven’t yet seen it, there’s a terrific infographic featuring the popular Marvel Comics superhero Wolverine. Much of the world became familiar with the Wolverine character through his portrayal by Hugh Jackman in the X-Men movies.

But Wolverine was a fan favorite, ever since his introduction in Incredible Hulk #181 (1974). The character exploded in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s and continues to be an A-list character in the comics and on the silver screen.

I discovered an infographic on Gizmodo.com and was impressed with the way the designer managed to incorporate the right amount of design, text, and layout to this rather complex character.

This was no average fan. This was a pro designer at work and this infographic was quickly going viral. At the bottom of the infographic was a cleverly placed URL that drove you to a website where you can buy costumes.

Yep, you guessed it, there are even costumes of Wolverine. This was a fantastic example of visual content marketing in action. They knew who the audience was, what would draw them in, and how to get them to their target website.

Two of the architects behind this content marketing campaign were Kate Willeart and Mark Bietz. They sat down for a brief email interview to discuss their content strategy tactic from a marketing perspective.  (Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series. Check out Part 2.)

 

BUDDY: To get started, can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?

Kate Willaert

Kate Willaert

KATE: My name is Kate Willaert, and I’m a graphic designer for Fun.com (and its sister sites HalloweenCostumes.com and T-Shirts.com). My job includes web design, creating t-shirt designs, and designing marketing materials such as infographics.

MARK: I’m Mark Bietz, VP of Marketing for Fun.com and I lead the marketing strategy here.

 

Just for context, there’s this great infographic that painstakingly details the costumes of the Marvel superhero character Wolverine. At the bottom is a URL for HalloweenCostumes.com. Can you describe how this project came about?

KATE: The Wolverine piece is actually the third in a series of superhero costume infographics I’ve designed, which previously included Iron Man and Superman. The inspiration came from an infographic I saw comparing the cost of Batman and Iron Man’s estates — their suits, their houses, their cars, etc. You get to the bottom of this infographic and see that it’s by an insurance company. I thought that was really clever. Continue reading

Interview with Content Strategy Author Ann Rockley

Ann Rockley and Buddy Scalera photo

Ann Rockley and Buddy Scalera at the Intelligent Content Conference 2013

Despite being a relatively young industry, content strategy and marketing owes a great deal to certain pioneers who helped shape essential concepts. Their names pop up in blog posts, at conferences, and on bookshelves because they are the true thought leaders of this evolving discipline.

Instead of becoming a fond footnote of the content strategy industry, pioneer Ann Rockley has continued to evolve with fresh, relevant insights. Her book “Managing Enterprise Content,” is, quite frankly, required reading for everyone who wants to work in content strategy.

After several years of hearing about Ann Rockley, I was fortunate enough to meet her at the Intelligent Content Conference 2013 in San Francisco. (I spoke at the conference and delivered a scintillating presentation called “Channel Agnostic Content Strategy for Happy Marketers.”) Later, Ann and I exchanged a few emails, and she was kind enough to grant me an email interview.

Fair warning. You will probably have to read this interview once, then read Ann’s book, then read this interview again to get the full impact. Ann’s very smart. I was just trying to keep up. Continue reading

Interview with “Likeonomics” Marketing Author Rohit Bhargava

Author Rohit Bhargava

Author Rohit Bhargava with his second book “Likenomics.”

Every once in a while, you read a business book and it becomes obvious that what you’ve been doing is…wrong. You know at that moment that you need to start doing things differently.

I had that feeling the first time I read “Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back” by Rohit Bhargava. At the time, Rohit was a co-worker at Ogilvy and I was reading the book as a professional courtesy. I mean, sure, he was a smart guy, super nice, and seemed to understand marketing, but I wasn’t expecting much. Most marketing books are bland and theoretical. Short on insight and long on catchphrases.

But Rohit’s book was different. It was clear that Rohit had taken great pains to write a book that went beyond basic theories social media and marketing. It was an insightful, actionable book that is as relevant today as when it was published in 2008.

In his second book, Rohit tackles a range of marketing topics. The umbrella concept of “Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action” (2012) is “likeability,” but that’s just part of the story. He shares case studies and anecdotes that reveal why believability and trust are so powerful for brands. Continue reading