Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

Chicago Cubs Corporate Storytelling Lesson

chicago cubs corporate storytelling lesson

This post originally ran on November 8, 2016. One week after the Cubs first World Series Championship since 1908:

The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. I’m sorry… I just can’t get over that. It’s a dream come true for me. It’s also an incredible lesson for anyone marketing a business. Storytelling is what drives passion, passion is what drives devotion. Which is why corporate storytelling is so important, and you can do it using a big budget like the Cubs or through a series of low cost videos. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

My Cubs Story

Like all Cubs fans… I have a story. My mom took me to my first game at Wrigley Field when I was six-years-old. From that day forward, the two of us made a point of attending at least one game together every season. I think we only missed it twice when I was a TV news reporter working away from Chicago.

mom-and-bIn 2013, we added a new component to our tradition. My mom and I took my daughter with us. It was a wonderful day at Wrigley, and we envisioned the three of us going to many more games together over the years.

Unfortunately, a year later we found out my my had lung cancer. A few months after that, she was gone. That game in 2013 is the last we attended together, our 36-year tradition was over too soon.

img_0299-1One of the conversations we repeatedly had over the years is what it would be like around the city when the Cubs finally made it to the World Series. We talked about how amazing it would be the see the Fall Classic at Wrigley. So… no surprise… as I attended Game 5 with my wife and as the Cubs were winning their first championship in 108-years just days later, I was thinking of my mom.

I tear-up now just thinking about it.

I’m Not the Only One

That’s my Cubs story. And if you’re wondering why so many Cubs fans were so emotional when Anthony Rizzo recorded that final out, it’s because my story is not unique. There are countless fans with similar stories that elicit that type of emotion, that type of passion. A passion passed down from one generation to the next… for over 100-years.

All of us together make for a devoted following. The Cubs feed off of our personal stories. They take them in, and turn around and give them back to us through their content. Countless videos during this playoff run have been focused on reminding every Cubs fan of their personal stories.

It’s a classic case of why you as a marketer or business leader should be sharing your stories.

How Corporate Storytelling Helps Your Business

Stories bring us together. You might not know me, you might not be a baseball fan, but now we’re connected. We’re connected because you have a special tradition you shared with your mother growing up. You’ve lost someone to cancer. You share a bond with someone through a sports team or a music group or an artist.

Chances are there is something within my story that reminds you of something within your own story. By sharing my story, it reminds you of your own, and it connects us. That’s what storytelling does, and it’s why people in PR and marketing need to push their companies to share stories.

If it relates back to the company, great… but it doesn’t have to. Feature employees and their stories. The more stories you can tell, and the more stories seen by your customers, the greater chance they’ll build a bond with your business.

Storytelling Ideas

Maybe you share the hobbies of each of your employees? How about telling people about how you came up with the idea for that latest product? Are there any special traditions the company or employees enjoy every year?

Anything is fair game. The more stories the better. The idea isn’t to inform people with important information. It’s to build bridges. Connect with them on a personal level.

The more you can connect, the more authentic the engagement, the easier it is to sell.

That’s what storytelling can help you do.

–Tony Gnau

How Storytelling Sold My Beat-up Mazda

How Storytelling Sold My Beat-up Mazda

Highlight any text or photo to tweet or post to Facebook.

Storytelling is something I strongly believe in, and I’ve written about how it’s more than just a buzz word. Well, I recently put storytelling to the test and it didn’t disappoint me.

Mrs. G and I recently sold our car… a 2002 Mazda Protegé. It is… a working automobile. The car isn’t a hunk of junk or anything. The interior looks nice. It runs great. We took really good care of the engine, but it does have its fair share of dings, scratches, and rust. It’s not exactly the type of car that jumps out at you and says, “Look how awesome I am. You know you want to buy me.”

Avoiding the classic corporate video mistake

As a video producer, it should come as no surprise that I decided to create a video to help us sell the car. I started thinking about car videos I’ve seen in the past, and I decided right away I was going to go in a different direction.

Most sales videos for cars make the same mistake a lot of corporate videos do. They focus on facts and figures. Car videos list off things like the number of miles on it, horsepower, 0-60 times… heck… even how many cup holders are inside. Do you think any of the facts and figures about our beat-up Mazda Protegé would wow people into wanting to buy it? Me neither.

Video isn’t about the facts, ma’am

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It’s a good thing then that video isn’t about facts. It’s about emotion. Videos should tap into viewers’ emotions and storytelling is a great way to do it.

The goal I have for most of the videos we produce at T60 is simple. We want viewers to walk away from each video feeling good about the company featured in the story. We want them to feel confident in that company’s ability to do the job… whatever that job might be. However, in the case of the Protegé video, I decided to tug at heartstrings.

I’m not going to tell you the story here. You’re better off watching the finished video for yourself. The behind the scenes scoop on the story is that I’ve wanted a new car for years, and I had been plotting to get rid of the Protegé as soon as I could. Only… when the time finally came… I felt very sentimental about the car. That sentimental feeling is what inspired the whole video.

Storytelling is only the first step

Of course, producing the video is just the first step in the marketing process. The next thing I had to do was to promote it. Of course, I posted it to YouTube. Mrs. G and I used Facebook to send the video to all of our friends and family. and I posted it on Google+.

mazda cmo tweetI also targeted influencers. I sent a tweet to Mazda’s Chief Marketing Officer, Russell Wagner, but the one that ultimately made the difference was… our mechanic.

That’s right, I sent the video to our mechanic. It’s a good lesson in who influencers can be. They don’t have to be a bigwig. It would have been great if Russell Wagner had retweeted the link to my video, but our mechanic has influence as well. I figured he’s tied into the local automotive community. Why not tell him?

It was a smart move because guess who bought the car? He did. A week or two after I contacted him, he called me to see if it was still for sale. Turned out he wanted to buy a car for his girlfriend, so he shared the video with her… and that’s all it took. She was sold… and so was our car.

That’s the power of video. That’s the power of storytelling.

–Tony Gnau

How-To Help Tell Your Company’s Story

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This month’s vlog focuses on an important topic. How-to help tell your company’s story.

It probably sounds so simple. As a matter of fact, you may have told people about your company or job a million times. But are you telling an effective story? Are you telling a story that resonates with people? That will keep their attention? That will endear them to you and what you do?

See… there’s more to it than you think. In the vlog, I give you an example of how your story can be found right under your nose, or in this case on a bookcase, as well as a good way to get started.

–Tony Gnau

How The Fortune 500 Uses Storytelling

How The Fortune 500 Uses Corporate Storytelling

Microsoft Kinect for XBOX 360
Photo: Mike Loomis

Ever hear the old adage… if you want to do something, study those who do it well. That certainly goes for marketing, and without question the best and brightest in marketing value storytelling. That’s why it’s so important to bring a storyteller into your business.

Whether you hire someone to be a full-time storyteller at the company, or bring in someone from outside the business to occasionally help. A storyteller can communicate with customers and prospects in a way that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.

Microsoft features people behind the products

That’s what Microsoft does. The company’s Chief Storyteller (glad to know I’m not the only one with that job title), Steve Clayton, was recently featured at He talked about corporate storytelling and the four P’s… people, places, process, and products… and trying to incorporate two into each story.

So… instead of creating a story about the new Microsoft Kinect that was all about the video game device and its latest features, he and his team featured the man who designed the hardware and took the audience into the model shop where products are created and tested.

I love stories like that… behind-the-scenes… taking us to places we can’t normally go… introducing us to the people who put their passion into their jobs. You walk away from a story like that with a new appreciation for the product.

That’s why storytelling is so effective. You can highlight a product’s features all day long. You can list all the services your company offers. None of that connects consumers to the company. Stories like the one from Microsoft help build that connection.

Disney lets us in on how the magic happens

It reminds me of another company… Disney. I know, right? Who knows more about storytelling than Disney, and one video I recently saw really stands out.

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Disney’s World of Color has become a must-see event at Disney California Adventure. It’s a light show like no other that includes illuminating Mickey Mouse ears worn by audience members.

It would be easy to sit back, flip on the HD cameras, and let the show speak for itself. Disney goes another direction. Its team tells the story of how the ears work and how they transform the show.

That’s interesting because what the video does is transform the way we see the show. We sit back in wonder about what our eyes are seeing and, now that we know the story behind it, we wonder at how it all works.

Unleash the corporate storytelling behind your business

Here’s what you need to know about each of these examples. They might come from two of our nation’s most recognizable companies, but even small businesses have interesting stories to tell.

That’s why every company needs a storyteller. It’s easy to walk around your business with blinders on. You see what you do everyday and it doesn’t seem special. A storyteller can look at it with a fresh set of eyes. They can take what you do everyday and turn it into a series of stories that will help your customers identify with you.

Storytellers can help you connect with your customers. Connecting with customers will help you sell your products and services.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 12 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.

WestJet Christmas Video Captures Emotion

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When it comes right down to it, the thing video does better than any other medium is capture and communicate emotion. If you ever needed an example, the WestJet Christmas video is it.

The idea for the production was simple but bold. Have a Santa Claus ask passengers prior to their flight what they want for Christmas. Then, dispatch Westjet team members to buy the gifts and have them ready when the passengers arrive at their destination.

That must have been one heck of a pitch by the marketing staff. It’s a home run idea. An expensive one, but a home run idea none the less.

It was a sure hit because the idea was bound to elicit emotions. Laughter, tears, shock… you name it… the concept was custom-made to generate those types of responses. Capture it all on video and put it into the hands of a quality storyteller, and you have the makings for a terrific video.

What businesses can learn from the WestJet Christmas Video

What business leaders need to takeaway from the WestJet Christmas video is just how impressive the power of video and storytelling can be for their company. As an American, I had never even heard of WestJet before this video. It’s a Canadian Airline. Now, thanks to this video the company is on my radar.

I know what a lot of small business people are thinking. The takeaway is to dream-up a big idea, back it with a big budget and you can produce an awesome video. Don’t fall into that trap.

You can do this for your business. You don’t even need the “big idea.”

Think differently about emotions

The mistaken assumption a lot business people make is they don’t have emotional stories to tell. That’s just wrong.

Anyone who feels that way needs to broaden the way they look at the word, “emotion.” Say that word and talk about video and many people immediately assume it means you’re trying to make people laugh or cry. Both are fantastic reactions to get from a video. In the case of the WestJet Christmas video, the audience gets both. Like I said, home run.

Here’s the thing though… those aren’t the only emotions that should matter to a business producing a video.

One definition of emotion according to Merriam-Webster is “a state of feeling.” What if the majority of people who watched a marketing video produced by your company walked away feeling good about the business? Feeling confident that you’re a quality company? Believing you can get the job done?

From a marketing perspective, would you be happy with that? I sure hope so. There are all sorts of positive emotions your videos can elicit. You don’t need to get a laugh or shed a tear for videos to be a success.

Okay smarty-pants, where do we find these stories? 

Do you have team members? How about customers? If so, then you have stories to tell. You just need to start looking for them.

Every one of the people who works at your company or hires your company has a story. They all have stories that relate back to their jobs and your business. Telling their stories allows your customers and prospects to get to know the people who are serving them. The more they get to know the people at your company and the people you serve, the more they’ll want to buy from you. It’s human nature. We tend to buy from people we like.

Sounds good but still struggling with how to do it at your business? Ask for help. Start contacting experienced storytellers who can help you bring those stories to life and put them to work for your company.

You don’t need a home run idea like the WestJet Christmas video. You can have video success with the stories already populating your company.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 12 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.

Top 5 Reasons Storytelling Is More Than A Buzz Word

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Storytelling is a pretty big buzz word these days around PR and marketing. Here at T60 it’s more than a trendy topic… it’s what we do and what we’re passionate about. Always have been, always will be.

The question is… why? Why do we love it so much and why is storytelling so en vogue when it comes to all the different types of marketing videos (updated 7/14/14) you can produce?

Why storytelling?

Storytelling can do a lot for a business. It holds important attributes that make it a terrific way to communicate. Here’s our top five reasons why storytelling is more than a buzz word…

  • it’s a great way to sell stuff without sounding like you’re trying to sell stuff
  • by incorporating information into a compelling story, you capture the audience’s attention and make them more receptive to your messages
  • storytelling helps viewers retain the information
  • after people watch something they really enjoy, they tell other people about it
  • storytelling is a natural for the social media world. Video storytelling in particular is easily shared and among the most popular content on the web

Are you sold on storytelling? Well, this is the tricky part. While anyone can tell stories, not everyone can tell them well.

I stink at spreadsheets. I can use them, but it probably takes me twice as long to put one together as Mrs. G. She loves them… has fun building them… and is the Excel Queen.

Storytelling is the same sort of thing. We all have the ability to do it, some storytellers are just better at it than others. Mrs. G’s strength… among MANY things… is handling numbers. Yours might be something else, while mine is storytelling. That’s worth considering when planning your corporate stories.

Storytelling starts with perspective

As professional storytellers, we just see things differently than most people. I’ll never forget walking into former Illinois State Senator John Millner’s office for the first time. He wanted a video to help viewers learn more about him.

The Senator was telling me about all the laws he had sponsored when I noticed a toy truck on shelf. That one observation completely changed the direction of the story we would tell (SEE THE PROFILE VIDEO). That’s what sets storytellers apart from others, they find stories everywhere.

Put your storytelling in the hands of someone like that and you’re bound to find out why it’s more than just a buzz word.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 12 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.


Your Title Impacts Video Storytelling

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An important part of video storytelling is focus. Not keeping the camera focused… keeping your story focused.

Northwestern football provides us with a great teaching opportunity. Fitting, right? Great school… alma mater to website consultant extraordinaire Brian Bender at Net Elevation (plug, ding!).

Anyway, NU produces a terrific web series called, “The Hunt,” which details the team’s quest to return to the Rose Bowl. A side note… the last time the Wildcats played in Pasadena, T60 client Jeremy Hogue of Sovereign Healthcare (double plug blog post!… ding, ding!) was leading USC to a victory over the Wildcats.

Learning from Northwestern

Okay… so… Northwestern does a great job of taking us behind the scenes. We get some flavor of campus life, as well as action on the field. It’s good stuff. It’s professional and well-produced.

Having said that, we can always find some room for improvement, and this lesson is great for business, PR and marketing leaders to note. NU’s latest video is titled, “The Student Athlete.” Like all the videos in the series, it looks great… the problem here is the storytelling.

If you watched the video without reading the title, you’d think it was a recap of the team’s game against Maine. Read the title again though… “The Student Athlete.” It isn’t until the end of the video when we get a mini-feature on one of the ‘Cats players talking about what he does in the classroom.

Actually, it kind of feels like a throwaway piece because we don’t really learn anything significant, and that’s a shame because highlighting how hard these athletes work in the classroom could be a GREAT story.

Video storytelling takeaway

The lesson is simple. Keep your video storytelling focused. If your title promises viewers something, you better tell that story. If what you deliver isn’t what the audience is expecting, how likely do you think it is they’ll watch your next video?

Focus your storytelling and deliver on promises.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.

Don’t Forget This In Your Video Storytelling

Don't Forget This In Your Video StorytellingWriting this week about a couple of things we should all know but sometimes lose focus on. Yesterday, I blogged about knowing who you are as a business. Today, it is knowing your audience and how critically important it is for your video storytelling.

Both of these were themes talked about during last week’s “Evening with an Expert” put on by ChicagoAMA. One of those experts was Chris Young, Senior Director, Global Menu Strategy for a little company you might have heard of… McDonald’s.

Chris found it a little funny speaking at a marketing event because he isn’t a marketer. He’s a food scientist, but deciding what’s going to be placed on McDonald’s menus means understanding how to market those items… pointing out it’s important to ask a simple question.

“What do customers want?”

That’s a question we should all ask ourselves when it comes to our businesses, so why is it that many companies forget it when it comes to their marketing videos?

The problem I find with some business leaders is that in an effort to prop-up their company, they produce a video that’s designed to make themselves feel good… not their viewers. They have all sorts of things they love about their business, so they do their best to cram them all into their videos. That’s a mistake.

Let your audience guide your video storytelling

The first question you need to ask yourself when you start a new video project is… how do we serve our audience? Take a look at the elements you’re considering for your video. Think about them from the audience’s perspective. Do they impact viewers’ lives? Why should they care? Is this something that’s going to grab the audience’s attention?

If the audience isn’t interested, they’re not going to watch, and getting an audience to watch is the whole point of producing the video.

Remember, your video projects aren’t about padding the egos in the C-Suite. Your videos need to be about what the viewers want.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.

Take a Porsche Storytelling Test Drive

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You don’t need a spoken audio track to make an effective marketing video, but you do need good storytelling. An American Airlines video remains my favorite example, and since seeing it I love highlighting similar videos.

The best of the best are often high on style but still manage to tell a good story. The not-so-best of the best… just high on style. Case in point… Porsche.

I saw a friend post something on Facebook yesterday about the Porsche 918 Spyder. I love cars, so I Googled the car and found a video of its lap around the Nurburgring.

High on style

The German Nurburgring… much to the chagrin of the BBC Top Gear guys… is the benchmark track where many cars are tested. The video starts well… music, the car being prepped. It moves on to the track with lots of cameras tracking the car’s run. It finishes with the lap time and a celebration. No spoken audio traffic, and almost a good story. Almost.

Here’s the problem, why is everyone celebrating? Clearly, it must have been a good time. I then did another Google search and found out that it’s the first time a street-legal car has broken the 7-minute mark.

Storytelling lesson

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone who watches your video might not know what you know. The produces for Porsche all knew this was a record-setting run, but they didn’t take into account certain audience members (cough, cough… me) might not. That’s a good lesson.

You know your business inside-out. Sometimes that can cloud the information you put in a story, or how you even go about telling the story. Watch the Porsche video. Now imagine starting it with an aerial of the track, some music and an on-screen graphic… Nurburgring, Germany: a production car has never completed a lap in less than 7:00.

The video takes on a whole new meaning. Even if the audience already knew that fact, all it does is add to the anticipation that we’re about to see something special.

The things you think might be obvious about your business, might actually be the key to driving interest.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.

We’re Debt Free And You Can Be Too

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Video production is what I do, but if you ask me what I am I would quickly respond… I’m a storyteller. Today, I’m treating you to a story that has nothing to do with video, but it might be my most heart-felt post to date. It’s a journey Mrs. G and I started four years ago when we got engaged, and it took an exciting turn at the end of last week.


Okay, we’re not totally debt free. We still have to pay-off our mortgage, but other than that we have no more debts and it feels awesome. No student loans, no car notes and we don’t have a single credit card to our names. Zero. Zip. That goes for our business as well. T60 has actually been operating debt free for two years already.

This all started after I popped the question to Mrs. G and we really began digging into what would be our combined finances as a married couple. Katie had a little credit card debt and a student loan. I had some personal credit card debt, business credit card debt… and a whole lot of stupid.

I think I was probably like most Americans. See something pretty, want something pretty, put pretty thing on plastic because me no have money right now to buy pretty thing. Stupid.

We visited a financial adviser… very adult… and he added up our newly combined debts. My heart fell into my stomach. HOLY SH$$$! I couldn’t believe the total. He suggested paying it off before doing anything else, but it was so much. We needed a plan, and that’s when Mrs. G’s sister suggested we read a book, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

The book changed my life… period. I’ve never been a math guy. My buddies used to literally taunt me in math class because I’d ask so many questions. I’m a creative guy… I don’t do math.

Dave’s book and my math nerd wife solved that problem for me. Dave’s baby steps (video) to getting out and staying out of debt gave me the framework I needed, and monthly budget meetings with Mrs. G and her spreadsheets (she’s the Excel Queen) did the rest.

Sacrifice to win

We sacrificed buying things we would have liked, rarely went out to eat, held garage sales, down-sized to driving one paid-for and… shall we say… seasoned car, dumped cable TV (ouch), and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.

And a funny thing happened along the way… our perspectives changed on life and money. Saving for the future became more important than spending in the present. We learned to be content with what we have. We discovered a more frugal way of living that agreed with us.

It’s not to say there aren’t luxury items we’d like… there are. Those desires just don’t rule our lives any more.

You’re dying to know how much we paid-off, aren’t you? Well, after some thought Mrs. G and I decided it was a bit tacky to announce that here on our business’ blog. I’ll just say it was a lot and was slightly worse than the national averages for personal debt. We were “normal.”

Well, no more. We’re not going back. I won’t sugarcoat it. It was hard at first, but it’s doable. Meaning you can do it too!

I just can’t tell you how good it feels not to be normal.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.