Author and speaker Nancy Duarte has said that speakers must take their audience on a hero’s journey (YouTube video). In doing so, the speaker doesn’t assume the role of hero – the audience does. The speaker is the hero’s helper.
Spokespeople for The Coca-Cola Company announced last year their ambitious goal of doubling the company’s overall revenues by the year 2020 (YouTube video). How are they to achieve this monumental task, comparable to the doubling of a small country’s GNP? Their answer was storytelling in all of its many forms.
In his latest book, What’s The Future of Business?, author and Altimeter Group principal Brian Solis has taken the theme of storytelling and the hero’s journey, and has woven it into a narrative prescription for businesses awash in the modern morass of communications. And while he’s writing about the hero’s journey, Solis takes us on our own hero’s journey, in which we take our own customers on their journeys!
The book’s subtitle is Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences. Throughout the book, Solis looks at those experiences through multiple lenses: that customers themselves have undergone great change, and certainly, the way that they interact with brands is no longer the way it used to be.
The book begins with a quote from entertainer, Oscar Levant, “Happiness is not something you experience: it’s something you remember.” This image sets the stage for discussion of the customer’s journey with a business.
Of course, with social media, the pas de deux of customer and brand has undergone remarkable transformation in this era. Too often, though, we’re focused on how that change has come about through technology; whereas, Solis reminds us that the story isn’t about technology, but experience.
Most books on social media fall within two categories: the evangelical book that is meant to show you the light as to why you should be fully embracing social, and the tactical book, written to address specific uses of social. For marketers, the former type of book is usually “preaching to the choir,” while the latter is often out of date by the time you find it at the local B&N.
There’s a third category that I call the deep think book, which is the category I’d place WTFB. Solis provides the reader with many mental and visual models that could be of immense value to the marketer. Even if you are a total convert to the digital revolution, it’s always helpful to acquire tools in both your own work and in communicating within the organization. After all, a big part of the marketer’s job is bringing the organization into the new paradigm.
In addition to the text of the book, there is another reason why I think this book should be on every marketer’s shelf, and that is the presentation. Solis collaborated with creative agencies Mekanism and Social Object Factory to create a book that flows smoothly, pulling the reader through its challenging thinking. Words and phrases are highlighted or blown-up to fill pages interspersed with blocks of text and graphics. I liked it so much that I shared the book with my own team so that we may bring some of this approach to our own reports and proposals.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book during a book launch event, but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.