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How to make your marketing alive in the moment

December 21st, 2010 · 3 Comments · All Posts, TreyPennington

Marketers can learn much from storytellers. Over the past several of years, I’ve been studying storytelling and encouraging marketers to adopt the mindset of storytellers. One essential element of storytelling, though, seems to be uniquely in the domain of storytelling. It’s something Connie Regan-Blake calls “being present in the moment.”

Whenever I encourage companies to use video, blogs, and yes, even Twitter, for storytelling, my good friend, Sean Buvala, who IS @storyteller on Twitter, says, “Always remember, those are only shadows of an experience, not the experience itself.” Sean agrees with Connie: storytelling is a right-here-right-now-together experience.

Storytelling IS a powerful experience. When I attended Connie’s storytelling workshop in Asheville, North Carolina, I caught a glimpse of what she and Sean call “present in the moment.” All participants paired up for a story exercise. Connie asked us to focus on an experience with an animal. At the end of the exercise, I was taken aback by how close I felt to my partner. Even though we had known each other for less than 15 minutes, we both felt we shared a unique bond that made us FEEL like friends.

In that moment, educational background, life experience, material possessions, fashion, and every other possible factor of “class” made no difference whatsoever: we were simply two human beings caught up in “the moment.” The content was nothing profound; the sensation was unforgettable.

Connie says this is the paradox of story: “story takes us to another place, yet when it’s working, it makes us really present in the moment.” Herein lies the challenge for marketers. Almost by definition, and maybe even by default, we marketers deal in the world of mediated experiences: there’s something (usually media) between us and the people we seek to influence. How can we use media (mediated experiences) to create “fully present in the moment experiences”?

I’m hoping some of you have some profound comments you’ll share to shine some light on the possibilities. At the moment, I’m both fascinated and perplexed by the notion of using media to create right-now-together experiences. It’s possible that events hold a key (i.e., focusing all media on getting people together face-to-face; though I do realize that won’t work for everyone).

Connie offers a final thought to fuel our pondering on the topic: she says for her, being present in the moment includes “breathing together.” She adds, “though we’re experiencing story individually…there’s a sense of connection…even if we don’t know [each other], we’re in community, listening together.” Aha! Now, how can we, as marketers, create opportunities to “listen together.” Hmm…

Trey Pennington


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