CommonSense Blog

Storytelling, more Art than Science

By Jon Maron | Feb 09, 2015

As I finish my first week at W2O I’m keenly aware that every client, every employee, every intended customer and audience is touched by technology every day in some way. And, it also strikes a chord with me that we are witnessing the end of an era in technology as well. The filing of chapter 11 by a landmark in technology, RadioShack. Yes, change is inevitable.

But would we have the technology we have today if we were stuck with the original ‘RS Walkie-Talkie’ or if they never sold you your first RC car? Or, even better, if Jobs and Wozniak had not gone to RadioShack for some of their first transistors and diodes? If the salesperson there hadn’t been explicit about what would work and what would not? It’s human interaction that drives innovation and change, the desire for something better, more useful or new. However, innovation, just to create something new, is useless if it’s not intuitive. In other words, if it’s really cool but too complicated to use, or really SIMPLE but not interesting, no one will care.

New media is innovative, it’s all about digital, algorithms and code. Yes marketing is changing, segmentation has taken on a whole new meaning when we think about people’s digital footprint. But is it intuitive? What hasn’t changed? Marketing and communications still depends on emotion, need and simplicity.

The questions I’m faced with in relation to the tools available today is, are they simply enough to explain and understand to the end user or client? Do they truly understand the need, value and why they should care about the new services available to them? In other words, does the emotional response resonate, rather than is it just pure logic – zero’s and one’s.

Marketing, communications, advertising and public relations are still fundamentally the same as they were a generation ago. Our business is as much about art as it is about science. Analytics, insights-driven content creation, and thought leadership only work if people care and you can explain the “wow behind the how.”

The “wow” part brings me to why coming to W2O Group is such a great opportunity. The “wow” means storytelling. Since drawings on caveman walls to the modern digital content, one thing drives purchase consideration: the story. The analytics that W2O offers are like no other in the industry. They help write the narrative, create the story and offer sound business strategy and inform better media planning and communications. Having come from the client side of the business recently, I know how hard this is to do in-house.

W2O finds the right people in the right places to tell the story to. As I like to say, sounding the intended audience where they work live and play with more accuracy and better insights than any group I know.

My approach is based upon both sound business planning and creative design strategy. I use analytics and insights that assumes pure rationality and objectivity for ROI measurement. It’s clean, economic, results oriented and assume most answers are simply right or wrong just like many of the tools we offer. But, augment it with a designers approach based upon iteration, human interaction and experience (the UI and UX if you will) for services, ideation, products and brand. It’s always a bit “messy” and instinct is as much a part of the decision process as research or facts.  Answers are not always about right and wrong as much as they are about better or worse. Failing faster comes to mind for me here. Art vs. science.

It seems odd to me that marketers and agencies alike are beginning to think that traditional media is dead. It’s not dead. It’s just metamorphosed into something different, more unique, and more complicated even. But let’s not let those old forms of storytelling go the way of RadioShack, where the human, emotional side of the business that helped launch Apple receded, leaving only aisles of cables and tiny drawers of diodes: technology, with no narrative.

*Posted also on tWist Mktg’s blog.

Jon Maron