Marketers that adapt their stories to the age-old dramatic structure keep buyers begging for more.

Source: The Shawshank Redemption from Castle Rock Entertainment.

When Kodak marketing executives ask Mad Men’s Don Draper to promote the wizardry of their new Carousel projector, Don takes a different tack with his own slide show, starting with images of his infant daughter. “First you bring her home from the hospital, then before you know it, you’re off to school.”

Don gently continues. “In the blink of an eye, she’s graduating college, then you’re walking her down the aisle … and you ask … where did the time go?” …

By 2025, at least half of the world’s leading digital retailers will take share by anticipating the needs of customers versus responding to them.

When Jack Welch made his famous observation — that competitive advantage lies in the ability to respond to needs faster than competitors — he was looking through a 1980s lens when concepts like smart machines, artificial intelligence, big data and advanced algorithms resided in ivory towers and science fiction films.

Responding to buyer needs after they’ve raised their hands, will soon be a losing strategy. (image: Group Futurista)
Responding to buyer needs after they’ve raised their hands, will soon be a losing strategy. (image: Group Futurista)
Responding to buyer needs after they’ve raised their hands, will soon be a losing strategy. (image: Group Futurista)

Fast forward 30 years and emerging technologies are empowering marketers with an electronic looking glass that provides previously unimaginable visibility into the buyer’s context — one in which people share where they are, what they are doing and whom they are with.

In this new world of clairvoyant marketing, brands…

In the future, robots and virtual assistants will unleash our creativity by freeing us from the mundane.

In the future, you’ll have more time for creative pursuits as bots assume the mundane. (Image: DataIQ)

Have-your-people-call-my-people is an old Hollywood expression for “I’m too important to consume my time in petty tasks like setting up meetings or lunches.”

I actually became one of these archetypes (albeit temporarily) when I went on the road with a client of mine (a senior executive at a large public accounting firm) who hired me to write a communications plan for a new corporate-wide compliance process.

Once approved, my client asked me to accompany him on a US rollout, which included seven major…


Use the Kafka Train Ride to Unlock Your Story

This simple technique will blow your mind as its exposes your characters’ motivations, hesitations, and deepest fears.

A postwar ad for the Pennsylvania Railroad

Are you an experienced storyteller having a bit of writer’s block? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try your hand at fiction — or you want to try a different genre. Either way, you’re a perfect candidate for Franz Kafka’s train ride.

Kafka wrote several volumes of short stories (many he competed before lunchtime). But, even the most prolific writers struggle to define and shape the characters of their stories. …

If you’re a consulting newbie, use these techniques to look and act like a veteran.

Source: Alberto Brandolini

Every consulting firm trains its people in its methodology, delivery techniques, and payment models. Few however, provide education aimed squarely at the psychology of how to sell and deliver consulting services.

If you’re new to the field you will learn a lot through trial-and-error. But, to save you a bit of heartache, here are my biggest learnings from three decades of consulting:

Skill #1. Act like a product manager.

Many consultants, particularly brand consultants, ask clients to buy abstract Discovery or Immersion phases where the firm’s consultants are embedded into the client’s business to learn, discover and observe what’s going on. …

Is a hyperconnected economy where having more connections, more followers, more fans, and more influence —at a tipping point?

Source: JAMA Network Open

Global connectivity, which makes it as easy to connect to people across the world, as to those in the next cubical, is one of the most dramatic developments of the modern age. But, things are changing.

Peer into the future, and hyperconnectivity has assumed new shapes, forms and business models, as consumers re-think what it’s really like to be always-on, always-available, and always-competing with other digital enthusiasts.

Contrary motion and the hyperconnected economy.

In music, contrary motion occurs when soprano voices rise as the basses descend, a technique designed to create a particular emotional response. Contrary motion also occurs in…

When technology does things we humans don’t want to do, find too dangerous to do, or solve problems we’re not smart enough to solve, will we enter a scientific and cultural rebirth?

Richard Fouts

Source: Scott Barry Kaufman

During the industrial age we learned to make things. Then came the quality movement which taught us to make things better. Now, in the connected age, we make things that work together. These however, are no ordinary things. When enabled with artificial intelligence, data science and sensors, things become able to make decisions based on changes in the environment and in the events that are happening…

The Scream, by artist Edvard Munch

Scores of investors showed Len Bosack the door when he pitched his idea (which later became Cisco). HP told Steve Jobs to take a hike when he proposed a new product to the board of directors (they thought it too radical).

As Jobs exited the boardroom he heard someone mutter, “Why would anyone want a personal computer?”

A dozen studios opted out of Star Wars. In 1876, Western Union said of Bell’s telephone: “It has no perceived value to us.” Warner brothers, when asked to consider integrating voice dialog into films said,“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”

Startups get bullish on space as earth’s finite resources dwindle.

Efforts to develop a profitable space economy are evolving as leaders from government and industry become serious about establishing living quarters on the moon. The motivations stem from earth’s limited capacity to support more residents (a UN study forecasts 8.6 billion people by 2030 and 11.2 billion by 2100).

“When we have reached similar crises there has usually been somewhere else to colonize. But, there is no new world, no utopia around the corner. We are running out of space and the only place we can go to are other worlds.”

— Stephen Hawking

Hawking’s assertion makes the space economy’s…

What we can all learn from Michelle Williams.

“Every movie I make I find kind of excruciating.” Photo and drawing: Thomas Robb

On the first day of filming My Week With Marilyn, Michelle Williams asked herself, “Why is this so hard?” It might seem an odd reaction to a performance that would later get an Oscar nod. But, being really good at what you do, even when you’re at the top of your game, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

“Every movie I make I find kind of excruciating because I’m always working at the edge of my ability. It’s what I’m looking for when I go to work. I am trying to become the edge.”

Williams credits her willingness to go to the…

Richard Fouts

Richard Fouts is the founder of Comunicado, a marketing communications company that helps brands tell their story.

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