“We’re Still Pretty Shit At Storytelling”: We Are Social’s Regional Managing Partner

“We’re Still Pretty Shit At Storytelling”: We Are Social’s Regional Managing Partner

Apparently, marketers are still “pretty shit” at telling stories, and at a Vivid Ideas event this morning at the MCA, B&T discovered how to ramp up the narrative for marketing purposes.

We Are Social regional managing partner, Simon Kemp, and Decoded head of APAC, Chris Monk, gathered at the museum to tell creatives and coders alike why machines just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to telling stories.

But they did bring data to prove their point, and showcase just why humanising your brand is the way to win a customer’s heart.

“Stories are 100 per cent fundamental to what makes us human,” Kemp said. “All of our lives are stories. Everything that makes us human comes back to storytelling.”

“Mere facts alone don’t tend to arouse any interest in us but once you turn it into a story, that’s when you capture our attention.”

Monk added, “Stories have a way of activating parts of our brain. Now, data can be considered quite a dry subject and getting people excited by big data can be quite difficult.

“But with something called neural mapping, if I tell you a story and we did a brain scan of both our brains, we would see the same bits of brain being activated. We remember stories for longer due to the active chemicals released in our brains when we hear them.”

“Stories are shared experiences. So when you get into the social aspect, the idea is about neuro-coupling,” Kemp added. “That feeling when you start to feel like you click with someone, you’re on the same wave length as someone.

“And this real ability to synchronise our emotions and ability to drive empathy is where you start to build trust. And trust is at core of building successful business.”

But, at the end of the day, Kemp said “we’re still pretty shit at storytelling”.

So the boys had 10 top tips to fix this problem, and craft the perfect brand story:

10 steps to get better

  1. Have a clear purpose

“An awful lot of advertisers don’t make it clear why they’re telling story – they just do it,” Kemp said. “You’ve got to understand what’s in it for the customer.”

  1. Relevance

“How will you make your story relevant to your audience? Which of their desired outcomes will your story help them achieve?” Kemp asked the crowd.

“That’s what, as marketers, we are looking for. “The story is not just about us.”

  1. Always start strong

“The best movies and the best books, always start by convincing you that all the time you invest in a story will be worth it,” Kemp explained.

“It sounds obvious but when you think about a YouTube ad with five minutes of shit that you want to skip, it makes sense.”

  1. Be authentic

“We are all drawn to true stories; the truth matters,” Kemp added. “As businesses we can’t bullshit.”

  1. Use emotions

Monk said as a brand you need to “appeal to senses not just facts and sense.”

“If you can give people something they can relate to, it activates crucial parts of the brain and draws them in.”

“Stop with the functional broadcast nonsense and go with emotions,” Kemp stressed.

  1. Keep it simple


  1. Remember to add some drama and mystery

“Consumers need the connectivity that sparks people’s brains and make them feel like their time spent with your brand is an experience,” Monk said.

  1. Make it sociable

What is it that’s going to make people feel like they’re a protagonist.”

  1. Don’t tell the whole story

“When you’re telling the best story, always leave gaps,” Kemp said. “When you’ve left that ambiguity and people can interpret own meanings, that triggers the part of brain that lets people fill the blanks in with their own ideas

  1. Leave people wanting more

Leaving people with a cliffhanger is one of the best things about storytelling,” Kemp said.

“We’re so obsessed with telling everything about our brand in 30 seconds, and we’re doing ourselves a disservice.”


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