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The War Over Corporate Storytelling Must End

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Just like those crazy kids with their saggy pants and loud music, corporate storytelling and content marketing feel new and alien to some of the more “traditional” players in a corporate ecosystem. (#understatement) Add in the frequently opaque ROI of digital – you know, that whole ‘what the company is supposed to get from the narrative’ thing – and its understandable that content marketers may feel like they’re at war with their own organizations. So let’s just call it like it is

In a push to corporate storytelling, you frequently need to convert your coworkers to the cause. #Irony: winning your coworkers is often harder than winning new customers.

I know I can’t be the only marketer on LinkedIn that’s been in this meeting:

Me (to client): “… Have you considered content marketing?”

Client: “Love Content Marketing! We should definitely think about that. But what we really need is some product marketing that sells directly to the decision maker…”

Enter my friend and colleague Matthew Woodget and the Trojan Horse. In his most recent post in our social dialogue, “You’re doing corporate storytelling all wrong“, Matthew argues that a full-frontal assault on institutional resistance to corporate storytelling is a recipe for disaster. And he’s right. (Did you read what he wrote?) The reality is – you need to find some way, ANY WAY, to get your colleagues to trust you enough to grant you a seat at the table. Hence the Trojan Horse. BUT, and this is a big but, I think Matthew underestimates the power of plot to erode internal resistance to change. 

“If a content marketer falls in the woods, and no one’s there to hear it, will it still go viral?”

Corporate paralysis is the threat that every content marketer faces. Paralysis born of fear of the unknown – “What if it doesn’t work?” Paralysis resulting from too many possibilities – “Should we do an app? A social campaign? A web series? There are so many paths…” Paralysis that results from uncertainty of the benefit – “So we do all this stuff, and then what?” The response, for too many: it’s safer to do nothing than to take the risk at all. If that doesn’t sound like paralysis, I don’t know what does. Which is ironic given that the only way to achieve a benefit from Content Marketing is taking action. And when it comes to story – plot is action. 

So you see, just as we need to take action to move our customers, we need action to move our coworkers, as well. And the best way to do that, to move our coworkers, is to spend less time equivocating about building narratives and more time actually executing them

What we need is more action (plot!) to get things going. Because there can be no ROI if nothing is done at all. Bottom-line: only when you stop fighting about  content marketing, and start experimenting with it, can you get on with the business of what matters: creating stronger connections… with everyone.

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