Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Live at MPB2B: Comedy and Storytelling

Last updated on October 23rd, 2016 at 02:59 pm

It is almost guaranteed that at a conference you will meet someone who inspires you, whether an attendee, or a speaker at one of the sessions.

The Marketing Profs B2B Forum is no exception. This inevitably happens to everyone. Someone says something that totally resonates with you, or makes that light switch go on.

This year, because of my move to B2BNN, I wanted to spend some time on writing and storytelling. I was inspired by two sessions at MPB2B this year.

Last year I took home valuable insights from Ron Ploof, inventor of the StoryHow Pitch Deck, and Doug Kessler, Creative Director at Velocity Partners. This year, Tim Washer and Bobby Lehew were the show stoppers for me. My brain is delightfully full.

Creative Writing: Lessons From the Comedy Writers’ Room

Corporate writing need not be boring. “Be in a state of play,” Tim Washer said in his session on comedic writing.

There are lessons to be learned from the comedy writers’ room; different ways to entertain, keep your audience interested, and be funny.

The Hard Left Turn

Tell a serious story, BUT throw a diversionary punch line as a curve ball. (Though technically a curve ball wouldn’t be a “hard left”)


Take two unconnected ideas and put them together. Brainstorming, we, the audience, provided two such things… apathy, and Shake & Bake. Yes, this conjured images of Ricky Bobby in everyone’s minds. This absurdity becomes comedy, when you tell the story straight.


Put something where it doesn’t belong. Think paper shredder, in a Shakespearean production.

mpb2b tim washer

There is also much to be learned from Irony, Sarcasm, Hyperbole, Contrast and Patterns. The biggest advice I have heard (repeatedly) for marketing, is addressing your customer’s pain. You need to show empathy. This goes for comedy writing as well.

Start with the pain point, and explore what would happen if there were no solution. To make it funny, or ridiculous, exaggerate the notion to the Nth degree. The same can be done with industry pain points.

Explore the consequences of the unexpected.

mpb2b tim washer

Be sure to follow Tim @timwasher.


Once Upon a Time: Enchanting Secrets of Creative & Compelling Storytelling

This was the last session on Thursday, and the room was packed. Ultimately we, as marketers, are all storytellers, but we can all use a refresher with Bobby Lehew.

Though we sell the features and benefits of our products and services, we buy on what makes us feel good. We buy because of the stories, they are the “shortcut to the heart of the customer.”

Best practice is to tell authentic stories, about authentic customers. When we watch a movie, or see a television commercial or digital ad, we project ourselves into the role of the protagonist. Keeping all of this in mind, when did you last consciously think about the type of story you’re writing for your customer? Did you consider the point of view? Is your customer the hero of their own story? Do you subscribe to Vonnegut’s 8?

These are lessons quite easily forgotten, that Bobby reviewed in his session.

The question for marketers however, is where to find these stories. Here’s where:

  • Customer quotes – job/project bids
  • New customers – where did they come from? How did they hear about you?
  • Meetings – within the four walls, and group conversations
  • Returning customers – why do they love you? What are you doing right?
  • Mistakes and recover – sharing failures makes us personable
  • Individuality – what do you do well, or differently?

One of the examples Bobby gave of someone “doing it right” is UPS. Logistics isn’t typically the most exciting topic. This puts a different spin on it, by telling a story.

If you can make people laugh, cry, or feel, you will be successful.

“Companies with the best stories win.” – Alan Hall, Forbes

mpb2b bobby lehew

And follow Bobby too @bobbylehew.

(Yes, you have to do selfies with those who inspire you. It’s an MPB2B requirement)


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