|Deloitte's John Hagel: "Moving from Story to Narrative"|
I should be plugging my freelance writing practice right now, but I'm still digesting the slide-free presentation by Deloitte's John Hagel at South by Southwest Interactive last month, entitled "Moving from Story to Narrative."*
Most of my freelance writing practice involves reinforcing companies' marketing strategies with actionable content. So Hagel really got my attention describing how the "old" way of marketing with content—telling stories—has always been less effective than the practice of creating "narratives."
- STORIES are finite and they are about the storyteller or others, not about you.
- But NARRATIVES are more open-ended and the resolution is yet to be determined.
- Importantly, narratives invite us to participate to help collectively determine the outcome (often involving a purchase).
- "Less filling, tastes great" is a story that was once told to TV viewers. But "Think Different" is a narrative that is still unfolding for Apple product users, many of whom never saw the "Think Different" ads.
- Storytelling is an easier deliverable for me to sell, like a customer case study, a ghost-written white paper or a refresh of all the text in a web site. But identifying and nurturing a company or product's true narrative still requires the story teller's art.
- Hagel explained that narratives take root organically, growing from the actions of people, and they evolve over time. As one SXSW blogger noted, "they aren’t the product of a brainstorm session."
- Hell no, they aren't. But this doesn't mean your customers are going to write web copy for you for free, either.