Corporations can no longer just worship the bottom line. Consumers and customers want to be associated with brands that align with their values. For business success today, your company needs to tell a compelling story that creates engagement, word-of-mouth, and brand loyalty.
The Hook gives you a proven methodology to create a compelling narrative, then shows you how to share your story with the world and get consumers and customers to listen to and remember your message.
More specifically, The Hook will teach you how story-selling can be used as an incredibly powerful instrument to:
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About the Author
To achieve a greater mastery of storytelling, sales, communication, and branding, many CEOs and Fortune 100 companiesfrom Nestlé, Google, and Nike to a wide variety of smaller businesseshave turned to veteran teacher, author, story doctor, and brand consultant professor Richard Krevolin. A graduate of Yale University, Richard went on to earn master's degrees from both UCLA and USC. He has taught both undergraduate and graduate classes at USC, UCLA, University of Georgia, Emerson, and Pepperdine. His consulting work has affected hundreds of TV commercials produced all over the world, many of which have won awards.
Read an Excerpt
A New Story Vision
The bait has to taste good to the fish, not the fisherman.
How do innovative leaders and companies hook their target markets? How do they educate, inspire, and sell their products, services, and overall brand? They craft resonant, emotionally moving stories that ignite real and positive transformation both inside and outside their companies.
They do this by telling stories? C'mon, really? Stories? Aren't they just something you read to kids to put them to sleep? And how do narratives relate to everything they teach in "B" school about cost-effectivity metrics and ...
Yes, yes, yes, you can get an MBA and employ all the best metrics in the world, but if you can't create an emotional connection with your target audience/market, then nothing else really matters, does it?
And how do you connect and engage with other human beings? Well, there's really only one way that's been proven to work with human beings over the past million years. You hook 'em with a story. Yep, you craft and share narratives!
Narratives in the digital age
In an always-on consumer world, the role of marketing needs to change from a batch process of sequential campaigns into a trading room monitoring and engaging with the ebb and flow of conversations happening in a digital space and context. It is, therefore, not just about storytelling anymore (which is a self-contained unit of beginning, middle, and end that has already occurred), but about timeless, ever-evolving brand narratives that you must create and control.
Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it. Now it is about finding a truth and sharing it. We are moving beyond traditional one-way, top-down storytelling to multi-level, interactive brand narratives. So what exactly are brand narratives?
Brand narratives must emerge from answering "Why does a brand exist?" and not from "What does it sell?" or "How does it sell?" Brand narratives are about you; they are created by you and consumers in an effort to find meaning. Brand narratives are the core of a long-term conversation with continuous engagement that always points back to the brand purpose.
These days, for brands to truly be successful, they must do more than just provide information about their qualities. They must also tell a story. And that story must align with consumer needs. In this book, I will look at how smart brands can go out into the world and create meaning for customers and consumers via the construction of brand narratives.
You will also learn about the psychological underpinnings of why a story really does persuade and influence. Exploring the latest discoveries in scientific research on brain chemistry and psychology, I will trace how we, as human beings, physiologically respond to and are moved by story. You will then learn exactly what is and isn't a "good story well told" and in doing so, you will learn how to use human responses to story to ally your company with your target audience and generate more sales.
I will emphasize this again and again in this book: A core concept about brand narratives is the understanding that your brand or product must not be the hero of the story you are telling. Instead, your brand or product must be the helpful ally that allows the consumer to reach their goals, to achieve their potential, to become the person that they were meant to be and couldn't be without your product.
Then, I will define the purpose of your brand — its own DNA — and how to translate that into a narrative form that will remain vital and engaging far beyond any label, Website, or promotional video. Understanding all aspects of your company's unique story is crucial to your ongoing and future success, both within and outside of your organization.
In the ensuing pages, I will also discuss relevant aspects of how stories fit into business systems (for example, your brand proposition, your packaging, your product sensory feel, etc.) and offer examples of real world applications across multiple industries (such as banking, consumer products, durables, luxury, mass products) and across the globe.
In this age of social media and digital storytelling, if you understand storytelling, you can dictate and manage the content architecture for your brand and, in doing so, also work to shape the story told by your customers and digital consumers. Brand narratives have the power to emotionally differentiate any brand from all of the others in the same category. I will further explore how, with the rise of social media, storytelling has now moved toward brand narratives told by many creators and constantly revised by consumers in different forms of digital communication and social media.
Finally, I will share a specific process of brand narrative construction that you can begin using immediately for more effective marketing, and I will provide real-world examples of successful narrative-driven work that has increased engagement and sales.
The rise and fall and rise of storytelling
In an age where people feel more busy and harried than ever, yet are bombarded by more advertising/media choices and product options than ever, how do you convey your company's message and ensure that it gets seen, heard, and absorbed in the way you desire?
Now, more than ever, great storytelling is necessary. However, a series of questions inevitably arise:
Has the art of storytelling been extinguished by the blinding white-hot glow of computer monitor screens and PowerPoint slides?
If story has been supplanted by technology, can it ever be resurrected?
And even if it can, why should we bother trying?
How do you find your own unique way and voice amidst the myriad storytellers out there?
Why storytelling and why now in the context of a business?
These are all valid questions. And all can be answered with this simple refrain:
The secret to successful communication, persuasion, and engagement lies in good storytelling, and this book will provide a simple, well-researched, and proven methodology to do so.
For any businessperson who cares about these things, it is imperative that they attempt to reacquaint themselves with the art of storytelling in order to ensure future success and engagement with customers and consumers.
And so I have written this book as a stop-gap — a primer on an art form that is being discussed increasingly, but one that is also disappearing and seeming ever more elusive. It is intended to serve as a sort of defibrillator paddle, if you will, to revive and inspire new life in the practice of storytelling today. It is a guidebook, a beacon of light to illustrate how you might utilize stories to enhance the success of your business, both inside and outside your brick and mortar walls.
Though I will introduce you to a sampling of helpful narrative rules and methodologies, it is key to remember that the essence of good storytelling is that your narratives must be nuanced and original, not rigid and formulaic. This gives you a competitive edge right from the start. All the rules are merely guard rails on the two-way story highway in which you will soon be speeding down on your journey into the world of creating and sharing brand narratives.
Remember: You are the one who can tell the story of your business best. You just need to be open to the fact that narratives are not born overnight nor created easily. Even the best storytellers craft and refine their stories over and over again in order to get them right. But it is you, and no other, who knows exactly whom your story needs to speak to. In this understanding of your audience lies the key to constructing the right stories well. And, hence, therein lies your power.
Let me add a little side note: Such a journey will certainly be more rousing and entertaining than a white paper, an accounting spreadsheet, or a heavy, bullet-pointed PowerPoint presentation.
"Hold on! Forget it," you say. "I'm not a natural storyteller. There is no way I will ever be able to do this."
And I say, "Nonsense! You can do this and soon you will be creating fresh and powerful brand narratives."
Being a bit hesitant here is natural. In fact, in almost every storytelling seminar I have taught during the last 25 years, three types of questions and concerns always seem to arise:
1. Question: Is storytelling a natural talent, a God-given gift that can't be taught?
Answer: No. Anyone can learn to do it effectively. I've seen it happen repeatedly, regardless of the nationality of the storyteller or their comfort level in front of an audience.
2. Question: Are there guidelines or proven methodologies that might help in the construction of a good story if someone is not a natural storyteller?
Answer: Absolutely! And I will share several of them through the course of the book so you can immediately begin telling more compelling, life-changing stories. After having led classes and workshops around the world and having written books, screenplays, stage plays, comic book scripts, speeches, commercial/advertising scripts, and even worked on opening statements and closing arguments for courtroom cases, I've noticed a series of rules that come into play every time with each individual project. Yes, there are specific unifying guidelines that can be implemented during the act and art of storytelling. When you understand the DNA of your brand, you can then craft an appropriate story to emotionally convey the necessary information in a way that will engage your target audience.
3. Question: Stories are all well and good to be used sparingly, but in the end, aren't statistics, metrics, lists, and bullet points the most powerful and effective way to market?
Answer: This is a good question, and I think the answer is simply that statistics and bullet points feel safe, especially when a lot of money is at stake. So relying on statistics instead of stories feels less risky. And, unlike statistical analysis, storytelling isn't an exact science. As a result, there's an inherent uncertainty associated with storytelling. Tell the wrong story and it can hurt you. So care needs to be taken. Yet, tell the right story, and the benefits can be far greater than the result of any statistical analysis.
Steve Jobs used great design backed by great storytelling that bucked trends in statistical analysis. He knew that if he could tell the right story about his products, he could create fanatical consumers, and he didn't need metrics to prove to himself this was correct.
A modest proposal
So here's my modest proposal: Instead of thinking of storytelling as a scary prospect, or this system as a straitjacket that will confine you, try to think of it as a wide highway that will take you where you want to go, give you free berth to go there at your own pace, and allow you to employ your own style along the way.
Maybe the best way to think of these guidelines is in terms of a metaphor. I believe the rules of storytelling are quite similar to those of a sonnet. You see, with a sonnet, at first there seems to be very little flexibility. The rhyme sequence is pre-established. There can only be 14 lines. It must be written in iambic pentameter.
But even with these constraints, stop for a moment and think of how many gorgeous and different sonnets have been written through the years. Open your mind to the freedom that exists within these defined parameters once these parameters are understood and embraced.
The new agenda for narratives
We live in a new era in which corporations can no longer just worship the bottom line of profits. Consumers and customers increasingly want to purchase and be associated with brands that practice business with responsibility and social consciousness.
Fortunately, most companies today have both a compelling story to tell and an array of innovative, game-changing products and services that are the epitome of this new emphasis on social responsibility.
But how do you get people excited about inanimate objects? How do you create the necessary awareness of your new products and services?
You do it by telling your story well.
Every company today needs to craft both personal signature stories for the founders, leaders, and employees of the company, as well as brand narratives that represent the essence of your brand to the world. In doing so, you can engage consumers in such a memorable and emotionally positive way that you then become their go-to brand.
In a nutshell, if you tell us moving, credible, and compelling stories, we will like you, we will care about you, and, as a result, we will want to buy from you. Every good salesperson knows this. And so, by the very act of buying this book and thinking differently about stories, you are well on your way to gaining a new story vision that will hook your target audience.
If your signature brand narrative is told well and truly embodies the DNA of your company, you will have a tool that helps sales and also furthers the meaning and purpose of your brand both in internal and external corporate communications.
The road to igniting transformation
You must dare to share your unique story with the world! If you transform how you transmit information about your business, you can become more effective at conveying your message and garnering the response you desire. Instead of simply offering lists, bullet points, or statistics, your job is to create innovative brand narratives that convey what you do in a more compelling, engaging, and emotionally resonant way — whether these stories are your own personal signature stories or narratives about your people, products, or services.
Through the course of this book, I will share with you tons of tips, parameters, and guidelines relating to storytelling. I will give you a good sense of how storytelling works and some of the rules that govern this realm. One small note of caution: Possible side effects of story creation can include more fun and enjoyment, inspiration, a greater sense of community, and the enhanced success of your company.
So now the ancient journey begins anew. I invite you to join me in venturing forth and taking chances within the circumscribed, but still wide, territorial berth of good storytelling.CHAPTER 2
Prof. K.'s Personal Brand Narrative
Memory is not a neutral act. Memory is an act of construction. We don't remember all the facts; we remember a group of facts that are tied together in a story that makes sense of our reality.
— Rabbi Irwin Kula, as quoted in Making Light in Terezin
As this book is about storytelling, it wouldn't be right if I went any further without sharing a personal story with you.
Once upon a time, there was a Hollywood screenwriter, storyteller, and script doctor (me) who started to notice that the principles that applied to fixing a story for the silver screen also applied to fixing a story for a CEO's speech, a TV commercial, a business plan, a manager's PowerPoint presentation, and a salesperson's pitch. It is a story about how it became abundantly clear to me through the years that the principles of storytelling, regardless of the endless diversity of stories, are universal and unchanging. It is a story about how I started teaching these precepts to businesspeople who, at first, did not think of themselves as creative, but soon showed great aptitude for adapting and applying these principles and quickly became masterful story-sellers.
Yet, I know there are skeptics out there. The "Yeah, butters" who find different approaches suspect and always seem to be saying:
"Yeah, but can this stuff really be taught?"
"Yeah, but can you really compel anyone to buy anything no matter how good your story is?!"
"Yeah, but what about ...?"
Simply put, I think these questions and comments are connected and all revolve around the issue of communication. Whether you want to write a story to sell a bar of soap or you want to write a screenplay to sell to Hollywood, it's all the same. It all comes down to the story you create.
Good storytelling is always effective. Storytelling works. Think about it. When a bunch of people are all vying for the same position, who gets the job? The person who tells the best story about himself or herself does.
When a company is in trouble, what kind of CEO is able to lead the company out of the red and keep his or her job? Why, of course, it's the CEO who can truly communicate an inspiring vision for the future of their company.
What about the best salespeople you've ever met? What common trait did they share besides good hair and nice shoes? Storytelling skills! Inherent in being a good salesperson is being a good storyteller.
Yes, I admit it. I see the world through a story lens and through narrative-colored glasses. So, now, I think it's time for me to stand up and publicly state, "Hi. My name is Richard and I am a story addict."
Yes, I spend eight hours or more a day writing my own stories, consulting with people on their stories, and writing books about telling stories. In more than 25 years of learning about and sharing stories, I have come to know — and can help you to determine — story structure, character development, creating a world, and when a story is (or is not) working. And if it is broken, I can help you fix it.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Hook"
Copyright © 2016 Richard Krevolin.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Shekar Khosla,
Further Foreword by Harry Beckwith,
Part 1: Why Stories?,
CHAPTER 1 A New Story Vision,
CHAPTER 2 Prof. K.'s Personal Brand Narrative,
CHAPTER 3 Humans and Storytelling,
CHAPTER 4 The Brand Narrative Manifesto,
Part 2: Narrative Fundamentals,
CHAPTER 5 Your Brand DNA,
CHAPTER 6 Turning Your Brand DNA Into Your Brand Narrative,
CHAPTER 7 Storytelling Fundamentals and Prof. K.'s Three-Step Narrative Development Process,
CHAPTER 8 Prof. K.'s Storytelling Rules and Tools, Part 1 — Structure, Structure, Structure,
CHAPTER 9 Prof. K.'s Storytelling Rules and Tools, Part 2 — Character and Dialogue,
CHAPTER 10 Prof. K.'s Storytelling Rules and Tools, Part 3 — The Fine Art of Revision,
Part 3: Narrative Typologies,
CHAPTER 11 Origin/Background Stories,
CHAPTER 12 Mission/Purpose/Values Stories,
CHAPTER 13 Knowledge-Information Based Stories,
CHAPTER 14 Brand/Product Vision Myth,
Part 4: Real-World Applications,
CHAPTER 15 Using Video to Share Your Story,
CHAPTER 16 Social Media and Story Sharing,
CHAPTER 17 Yeah, But if You Don't Tell it Right,
CHAPTER 18 The Magic of Story,
About the Author,