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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July Book Review: Winning the Story Wars


“People who tell and believe the same stories hold the same values. They share a worldview. In fact, a worldview is just a collection of stories about how things have come to be the way they are and what we should do about them.”  (see more direct quotes below)

1. Opening Thoughts
2.  Table of Contents
3.   Further Reviews and Summaries
4. Quotes from the Book

Opening Thoughts
If you have not noticed, I have written a lot about stories and storying.  It has shown itself to be a major breakthrough in missions.  We are learning more all the time about the power of stories to teach the Bible and also bring about transformation (Matthew 13:34).  My real interest is in the power of story to change lives.  The power of story is now sweeping across the spectrum of society.  Through discoveries on how the brain learns to the surprise power of story to move people, everyone from Bible teachers to marketers of soap are getting into the act.  But a story is not a story is not a story.  Sachs comes to us from the angle of marketing.  He describes how social media is using the story telling approach to redefine marketing.  I found the book fascinating because he gave us a glimpse of the future while explaining how the and why storying works.  Of course it comes back to how we are made to learn and process information.  This book confirms what I have learned over the past few years: Storying is a powerful tool because God created us to learn from stories.   

Table of Contents
Part One: THE BROKEN WORLD OR STORYTELLING
1. The Story Wars Are All Around Us
2. The Five Deadly Sins
3. The Myth Gap
4. Marketing’s Dark Art
Part Two: SHAPING THE FUTURE
INTERLUDE: A Creation Myth for Marketers
5. Tell the Truth, Part I: The Art of Empowerment Marketing
BASIC TRAINING: Identifying Your Values
6. Tell the Truth, Part II: The Hero’s Journey
BASIC TRAINING: Designing Your Core Story Elements
7. Be Interesting: Freaks, Cheats and Familiars
BASIC TRAINING: Generating Your Stories
8. Live the Truth

Further Reviews and Summaries
From the Books Website:  “The Story Wars are all around us — they are the battle to be heard in a world of noise and clamor. In our post-broadcast world, most brand and cause messages are swallowed up and forgotten before they reach the light of day. Just a few have been able to breakthrough this clutter by using the only tool that has ever moved minds and changed behaviors — great stories.
Winning the Story Wars is a call to arms to build iconic brands and causes in service of a better future. And it’s an invitation to see today’s marketing challenges as an adventure through a world of wonder, danger and limitless opportunity.”  Read More from the website for the book.
Google Books
Google Books has the first 80 pages on their review of the book. Click to Read


Quotes from the Book

The following are direct quotes taken on my Kindle from the book:

human beings share stories to remind each other of who they are and how they should act. 

So many of the stories that have really stuck, that have shaped culture, are about one thing: people reaching for their highest potential and struggling to create a better world. If the test of time is our judge, stories with this formula have a near-monopoly on greatness. 130

For those who seek to rediscover it, this wisdom has been preserved in the “three commandments” laid out in 1895 by marketing’s first great storyteller, John Powers: Tell the Truth, Be Interesting, and Live the Truth. Updated 175

Here’s what I think it means: the oral tradition that dominated human experience for all but the last few hundred years is returning with a vengeance. It’s a monumental, epoch-making, totally unforeseen turn of events. 236

But our new digital culture of information sharing has so rejected the broadcast style and embraced key elements of oral traditions, that we might meaningfully call whatever’s coming next the digitoral era. And while this new age will undoubtedly contain elements of both traditions—which we will explore momentarily—the digitoral era borrows much more from oral traditions than broadcast. 239

Stories are a particular type of human communication designed to persuade an audience of a storyteller’s worldview. The storyteller does this by placing characters, real or fictional, onto a stage and showing what happens to these characters over a period of time. Each character pursues some type of goal in accordance with his or her values, facing difficulty along the way and either succeeds or fails according to the storyteller’s 291

People who tell and believe the same stories hold the same values. They share a worldview. In fact, a worldview is just a collection of stories about how things have come to be the way they are and what we should do about them. A good story is therefore the fundamental ingredient in allowing humans to create a sense of us. Shared stories, shared values, shared worldview—us. And 330

what audiences really want is to see their own reality and values reflected in a message, 555

Start with your audiences and their needs, then introduce yourself as a catalyst for helping them meet those needs, and a story instantly begins to unfold: Multiple characters and, most importantly, your audiences in a starring role. Conflict between your audience’s desires and their current state. And a plot or journey that you invite them to join you on to reach those desires. 601

Here’s what the problem of insincerity comes down to: great stories are universal because at their core, humans have more in common with each other than the pseudo-science of demographic slicing has led us to believe. Great brands and campaigns are sensitive to the preferences of different types of audiences, but the core stories and the values they represent can be appreciated by anyone. Universality is the opposite of insincerity. 679

Myth Ingredient 1: Symbolic Thinking Myths are neither true nor untrue, because they exist in a separate space and time. They need not conform to the literal constraints of reality. 906

Myth Ingredient 2: Story, Explanation, and Meaning Myths provide story, explanation, and meaning in a single neat package. Take one of our most powerful myths, from which so much of our cultural history has derived—the first book of Genesis: 919

STORY: God created the world in seven days and gave man dominion over it. EXPLANATION: This is how everything we see around us came into existence. MEANING: So God deserves our gratitude and obedience. 922
Myth Ingredient 3: Ritual Stories that provide compelling explanation and meaning can’t help but hit us with a powerful moral of the story. And the first thing we do when hear 935

When these elements are brought together—symbolic thinking, story, explanation, meaning, and ritual—the building blocks are in place. But 941

Inadequacy Marketing All inadequacy marketing stories follow a simple two-step approach. Once you know the formula, you’ll instantly recognize it in marketing messages all around you. Step 1: Create Anxiety As we’ve seen, all story-based marketing campaigns contain an underlying moral of the story and supply a ritual that is suggested to react to that moral. In inadequacy stories, the moral always begins with “You are not . . . ” and plays off of at least one negative emotion. GREED: “You are not in possession of what can make you happy.” FEAR: “You are not safe.” LUST: “You are not attractive enough to be loved.” You get the idea. 1358

Step 2: Introduce the Magic Solution Faced with the welling up of these emotions, the maturing lead actor of the traditional myth would resist the temptation to indulge them. Our books and movies always tell us this is what we must do: nearly overwhelmed by the tempting power of the One Ring he possesses, Frodo must throw it into the abyss or be reduced to a monster of greed. Jesus’s final test is to resist the temptations of Satan for power, wealth, and the trappings of a worldly life. Snow White’s stepmother must renounce her vanity or be destroyed by it—which she is. 1371

Much later, I learned that good stories are structured just like baseballs. On the surface, we find the story’s visible elements: the setting, the characters, and the actions those characters undertake. 1654

Just beneath the surface, the story finds its structure in the moral of the story. The storyteller does not introduce characters and actions by happenstance. Each visible element exists to illustrate an overarching point, an explanation of a professed truth about how the world works. 1656
In a more complex story, it will be up to the listener or reader to glean it from the tale. But no matter how hidden or obvious it may be, without this underlying structure, audiences will intuitively feel that a story is just a collection of random events. Without some kind of moral, we instinctively reject a story as poorly told. 1660
And then there is the story’s core, hidden one layer deeper at the center of it all. 1663

Here we find the values implied by the moral. 1664

The values at the core of a myth provide its meaning and, unless we are looking for them, these values often remain hidden from our conscious minds. 1666

The practice of empowerment marketing is based on two of the most influential theories in the field of human growth and maturation—Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. The hierarchy of needs provides us with a vastly expanded menu of universal values you can appeal to in your audiences beyond greed, vanity, fear, and self-interest. 1670

Then, using what we learn from Joseph Campbell, you can turn those values into a resonant moral of the story and create a story structure that will appeal to the heroic potential in your audiences. 1674

And because these empowerment marketing stories function in the way traditional myths always have, calling their listeners to growth and maturity, campaigns built on these models are asserting their supremacy in our new oral 1676

Empowerment Marketing: A Resistance to the Dark Art 1679

Tactic #1: Expose Lies of Inadequacy Marketing 1710

The first tactic of empowerment marketing is perhaps the most powerful: tell a more resonant truth in the face of commonly accepted lies. 1710

Tactic #2: Speak to the Hero, Not the Child The second tactic of empowerment marketing emphasizes the power of the audience, casting the viewer as the hero with the brand or organization as a helper, speeding her on her way. 1766

Tactic #3: Forget the Consumer, Call on the Citizen The final tactic of empowerment marketing comes down to this: inspired citizens make better brand evangelists than helpless consumers. 1810

This element of Obama’s digitoral success is part of a larger pattern of empowerment marketing: brands that aim to empower tend to seek out and invest in new channels through which they demonstrate respect for their audience’s power and opinions. 1864

Inspired citizens, it turns out, don’t just make good customers. They make great partners. 1869
While everyone else was studying sick people, Maslow set out, as nobody had before, to study the healthy, mature, and “self-actualizing”—those who seemed to find satisfaction in life and fulfillment of their potential. Maslow looked for patterns in the psychologies of the living and the dead—his mentors, his students, John Keats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ida Tarbell, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, George Washington, John Muir—thousands of individuals in all. 1921

UNIQUENESS: The need to express personal gifts, creativity, and nonconformity PLAYFULNESS: They need for joyful experience As soon as I came to understand Maslow’s hierarchy, I knew I had discovered the foundation for a powerful alternative to inadequacy marketing. If we see these needs as values, as Maslow often referred 1964

to them, we find a whole new way to select a core for empowerment-based storytelling strategies. The Values at the Core of Legendary Campaigns With this palette of values in mind, let’s rip the cover off some of the marketing myths we’ve seen on our exploration to this point, unwind their structures, and peer at the values hidden at 1969

Empowerment marketing campaigns, on the other hand, rely on growth—being—needs that can never be fulfilled for individuals but must be embodied by them. To work with this reality, marketers must help audiences to see themselves as the emerging heroes of the story. Everything you need is already inside, these stories say; we can help you on your journey to actualize your potential. 2001

It’s about values and inspiration. Instead of offering to meet a deficiency need, empowerment marketers build stories around one of the growth values that are universal to human experience but rarely present at all in our consumer-frenzied media landscape.Recognizing that nearly everyone is striving for at least some of these higher ideals, empowerment marketers display these values in a way that stimulates audiences to renew or intensify their pursuit: See through the lies. Recognize your power. Push past failure.Dive into complexity. 2006

The strategy works when audiences feel uplifted by the reminder that there’s more to life than fulfilling base needs—take 2010

In Maslow’s pyramid we find a way to lay the foundations for an empowerment marketing story strategy—choosing from universal human values that stress truth over falsehood, the heroic nature of audiences and the citizen over the consumer. 2026

BASIC TRAINING Identifying Your Values You have arrived at the first of three Basic Trainings you can use to begin applying the lessons of the story wars to your brand or cause. 2031

Great stories teach truths about the way the world works and they stand for something. 2041

he doesn’t see brand communication as marketing at all but “sharing our core values with our customers.” For 2061
Brands That Embody Values Other brands will find their values effortless to choose because they are a direct expression of their offering. Amnesty International, for instance, 2063

Here’s how to begin. STEP 1 Review the list of higher-level values shown in “The Values You Want to Live.” You’ll want to capture any that fit your aspirational brand. In other words, these values need not be an expression of where you are today but where you want to—and ultimately believe you can—go. Put each value in one of the following categories: Values built into our founding story Values expressed by our products or services Values held by our leadership Values we believe will most deeply resonate with our audiences 2106

The Values You Want to Live Below you’ll find a palette of nine brand-defining values derived from the being needs of Maslow’s hierarchy. Note that they are not listed in order or importance. WHOLENESS: The need to feel sufficient as an individual and connected to others as part of something larger, to move beyond self-interest PERFECTION: The need to seek mastery of skill or vocation, often through hard work or struggle JUSTICE: The need to live by high moral values and to see the world ordered by morality, to overthrow tyranny RICHNESS: The need to examine life in all of its complexity and diversity, to seek new experience and overcome prejudice SIMPLICITY: The need to understand the underlying essence of things BEAUTY: The need to experience and create aesthetic pleasure TRUTH: The need to experience and express reality without distortion, to tear down falsehood UNIQUENESS: The need to express personal gifts, creativity, and nonconformity PLAYFULNESS: The need for joyful experience 2120

STEP 2 Narrow your field to three of these values—if possible, only one or two. Like all branding decisions, fewer inputs are usually better in the long run. But you don’t want to narrow at the expense of your authenticity. Values that align across all four categories (founding story, offering, leadership, and audiences) are ideal choices, but not always possible to find. As Patagonia’s Ridgeway put it: 2137

Thus begins the hero’s journey of Moses—as a founding story of three of the world’s major religions, it has deeply informed the lives of heroes from Jesus to Martin Luther King Jr. to many of the Muslim students in Tahrir square. Joseph Campbell was the first to map out the universal story pattern of the hero’s journey, but he discovered it only in the way that Columbus “discovered” the Americas. For millennia, it had been alive in the intuitions and traditions of shamans and storytellers around the world. “What the Shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone,” 2179

In other words, whether you’re hunting on the savannah or choosing between millions of videos on YouTube, your brain is programmed to ignore almost everything and home in only on what is most important or interesting. 2871

With an understanding of the discriminating nature of our genes, we can begin to construct the basis for stories that grab our attention and stay in our memory. This is a very different, but complementary, approach to building resonance based on myth structure. Where Powers’s first commandment, Tell the Truth, is about deeply connecting with audience’s values and identities, Be Interesting is all about getting noticed by them in the first place. 2876

The widely accepted social intelligence hypothesis tells us that the greatest evolutionary pressure for social animals comes from our need to interpret the identity, status, and intentions of other humans and to use the information we get to our best advantage. This is what nature has designed us to do. 2891
Jerome Bruner, a giant in the field of cognitive psychology, says the very structure of our brains favors attention to the weird: “Our central nervous system seems to have evolved in a way that specializes our senses to deal differently with expected and with unexpected versions of the world . . . The more unexpected the information, the more processing time it is given. 2895
Stories, in fact, are designed for just this type of situation. Brian Boyd argues that one key function of storytelling is to make us more expert in social situations, to prepare us for an unusual encounter just like this one. Stories speed up our ability to understand and respond to complex scenarios. 2910
Natural selection has solved this problem by favoring tribes where elaborate emotions and social systems have evolved to punish cheaters, build trust, and allow cooperation to thrive—in other words, to build altruism. Uniquely armed with complex language, humans have mastered this art far better than any other animal. 3008
One way that our brains have evolved to make altruism possible, with all the benefits of social behavior it provides, is by automatically paying close attention to situations where established norms are either being upheld or violated. We want to be sure that if we behave altruistically, our partner will too—otherwise 3010
Brian Boyd says such stories have been absolutely critical in human development. Before we had rigid power structures to enforce altruism—like police who arrested you if you didn’t pay for your cab—we told stories that reinforced social expectations, and reassured us that those who don’t meet them would be penalized. 3022


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