The Content Paradox: Depth vs Brevity / Dragon vs Grasshopper

As we each battle with our information overload dragons, we face a paradox. While we fight the dragon, we are like the grasshopper. You know the grasshopper – the inquisitive young priest who sought true understanding to complex problems. His teacher, “Master Po” providing first simple analogies as answers, then as the boy understands more – come more complex answers. Content marketing can learn from Master Po.

The Web as our “Master Po.” It has a simple answer to everything.  But as we seek deeper understanding – beyond the highest rated stereo or the best route to take, when we ask “Who is the best consulting partner?” or “What is the most appropriate software product to buy?” Master Po has that answer too.

What does Master Po do when the grasshopper seeks deeper understanding? He shares stories.

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The Tig Nitaro Story

Tig Nitaro, photo from The New YorkerOK – this is not news. 

But it is powerful.

It is the story of a comedian who was diagnosed with cancer, and within a day of finding out, she went on stage – and was wonderfully honest, funny, … and I don’t know … beautiful about it. You can read more about the story in lots of places like The New Yorker, and a great show about her on This American Life. I like an email I recently got from Louis CK – that is below.

Nothing else I can add, other than I love honesty, and this is honest.

Email from Louis CK:  Greetings to the people and parts of people that are reading this. Hi. This is Louis. I’m a comedian and you bought a thing from me. Well, I’m writing to tell You that there is a new thing you can buy on my website It’s an audio standup set by not me but another comedian named Tig Notaro. Why am I selling someone else’s comedy on my website?

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Selling Services with Stories

"Story is your path to creating faith"

For better or worse, today we live in a service oriented economy. Large enterprise consulting companies have been growing and delivering professional, IT and creative services for years. Traditional hardware and software firms are getting in the game and finding that services are the key to growth, customer satisfaction, and retention. We all have unlimited coaching services available from personal trainers, life coaches, and business coaches. Regardless of where you stand in the services world, if you are selling, you need to overcome some major hurdles before a prospect will engage

#1 - Prove you can do the job.

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Explaining vs. Storytelling for Startups – Our Response

I recently came across this blog post: Explaining vs. Storytelling for Startups from Common Craft, a explanation video production company.  We are in the storytelling business and this resonates powerfully for me. Lee’s point about establishing context, and “starting with the forest instead of the trees” is spot on. Good stories involve characters, drama and details – (aka trees). But without enough context, all the wonderful details of a story simply add confusion.  Quick story: We love This American Life – the most popular show on NPR. Often the stories you hear on that show start in the middle, then the host (Ira Glass) provides a bit of context and commentary, then the story continues. This is a very effective way to engage listeners, introduce characters, and create suspense (what is going on).
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The Power of Business Stories: Details

A great presentation and story … taught me (again) the value of a good story, and how we can all tell better business stories.

AnswerDetails – small ones

A video version of this blog post
Lets face it, every presentation has logic that ends where the speaker wants to go. They have visuals, and often (but not always) are delivered with enthusiasm. So why did this presentation by Marcus Sheridan at Content Marketing World have such a profound effect on me? There were lots of good presentations in two days. Why did I remember this one? Why I am I so passionate to follow up on its message?

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We are recommitting!  To sharing, blogging, learning,  and exploring new ways to share business stories. 

Writing stories is well covered with website text and pdf’s of case studies, company history and customer experiences. This blog will be all about business stories and storytelling – and will focus on multimedia stories.
  • Why stories work
  • How to tell authentic & compelling stories
  • New ways to produce multimedia stories
  • How to share stories effectively (in web, mobile, demand gen, social, and content marketing)
  • What is changing today & how you make the most of all the change!

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Stop Shooting Video!

Video is the most powerful medium in the world. You need and want it. But - stop shooting video! Why? Because there are better and more cost effective ways to produce compelling multimedia.

You need video.

Video is critical to cutting through all the noise. No one wants to (or will) read your website, brochure, or white paper. They want to scan, click, watch and learn. They want video. Here are a few stats to noodle on: Video increases

  • Consumption & engagement,
  • Understanding & memory,
  • Emotional connection
  • Action!

Don’t stop using video. Stop shooting it.  Shooting video is expensive, painful, and often unnecessary. For the last ten years we have been producing business videos, from all over the world, and for large and small companies like SAP, Deloitte, Avaya, Mars Air or Mentor Tech Group. All without shooting one second of video.

Just stop shooting video.

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11 Ways to Be Honest in B2B (and perceived that way)

Click, click, scan, focus, ignore, click, focus… hmmm… focus a bit more … decide if is this content is relevant, understandable, or credible. This is path we all take when checking the limitless content available to us. In the B2B world that last one: credibility – is really challenging. We are all selling – and our readers and visitors know it. So how can you be honest, credible, and perceived as such in B2B? Here are 10 proven ways:

1. Be imperfect.

This is the easiest to name but the hardest to execute. We all have managers and peers offering opinions and editorial reviews on web pages, brochures, white papers, and customer reference stories. Each opinion removes phrases that may offend, confuse someone, but also may be most fun or interesting content. Life is imperfect. People connect with and trust imperfection. If you want to be perceived as honest and credible, trust your audience and share your imperfections. If you are playing in social media, check out this article by Eric Wittlake about authenticity vs. believability.

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The Courage to Publish

Marti Konstant and Andy Crestodina

500 words. That’s it. Once I get there, I do a quick edit, add a few links and hit Publish.

That is the promise for this article. A promise to myself. But sadly – I have broken promises to myself before. Eat healthy. I had  a cinnamon roll this morning. But my mother taught me to be an optimist, so here goes.

8:45 – lets do this and make the 9:40 train.

You see, I just attended a great marketing session on blogging and content marketing. It was hosted by two great marketers Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios, and Marti Konstant of Konstant Change. After a quick intro to set context, we dove right into SEO, key words, article titles, guest blogging, linking, and all kinds of great stuff. It was wonderful – really.

And yet here I am … first with tons of article ideas. Then to make things easier, I pull up an article I started last week … Why video? – about creating multimedia without the lights, camera and cost of traditional video. It is what we do, it should be easy. But no. One page becomes two, then three, then rearranged. The message changes, and soon it’s a train wreck. No closer to a blog post than when I started.

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Scaffolding and the Wireframe: From Wacker Drive to the Web

Outside our offices here at StoryQuest, the City of Chicago is undertaking the huge project of rebuilding Wacker Drive.  It’s a complex engineering effort and it has disrupted street and pedestrian traffic for months, but we have a bird’s-eye view of all the action.  The process is pretty fascinating: pouring concrete, laying rebar, building a heavy structure that essentially floats in the air and is designed to support itself; and it’s something I know very little about having spent most of my life working in information technology.

My fascination with the building process—and secret envy of manual laborers getting to work with their hands—got me thinking about how this might relate to what I do in building websites for clients.  What I noticed looking down on the construction is that you can’t just create something out of thin air.  You need scaffolding not only to support the structure while it is being built, but to give you something to stand on.  The natural metaphor in the world of web development is the website wireframe or mockup.

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