How to communicate in a compelling manner

By shifting gears away from the now-dysfunctional approaches of the past, marketers have the chance to reshape the media marketplace, orienting it to stories that have always worked in the oral tradition—those that call people to higher purpose—according to Jonah Sachs in his book Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future. We now live in an age of “story wars”, in which the ability to dream up and spread solutions to the world’s problems depends on the ability to tell great stories that inspire people to think differently.

The era dominated by print and traditional television media is in decline and being replaced by the “Digitoral” era, featuring a “digital” culture that has revived key elements of “oral” traditions. A successful marketing message is now a compelling story which gets passed from listener to listener. But there are five deadly sins which must be avoided: vanity, authority (relying on the facts without making an emotional connection with the audience), insincerity, puffery and gimmickry.

A good story uses elements from the shared myths that hold societies together, including: symbolic thinking; story, explanation and meaning; and ritual. Effective marketers are those who create new myths, and these can be used for good or for bad. Inadequacy marketing, which involves creating anxiety and the introducing a magic solution, tends to be harmful, whereas empowerment marketing tends to be beneficial.

The book includes a number of Basic Training segments, which provide the reader with detailed ideas on how to find values for a brand, how to define your core story elements, and how to generate your stories. Although the book is directed particularly to marketing professionals, it contains guidance which will be helpful for anyone who wants to communicate a message in a compelling manner. As a reader who is not a professional marketer I was not completely comfortable with all of the author’s approach and advice, but I found the book as a whole to be well-written and helpful.

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