From time to time, I receive books from authors who are hoping I’ll like the book enough to write about it. This is one of those times.
I write (and read) a lot about brands, story, marketing, and strategy, so when I get a book on one of those topics, I’m generally inclined to read it.
Such is the case with Peter Guber’s upcoming book, Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.
Mr. Guber has worked as a high-powered movie executive, political fundraiser, and a university professor, and he shares personal experiences from his life to show how stories sell ideas and move people to action.
The book isn’t about marketing (at least not outwardly). Or how companies can use stories to move the customers to action. But after reading it, the reader will have plenty of ideas that apply directly to telling any narrative, including brand stories.
Why do stories convey information more effectively than a recitation of facts, numbers, or other figures? Guber quotes Robert Rosen, the former dean of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television:
“Stories put all the key facts into an emotional context. The information in a story doesn’t just sit there as it would in a logical proposition. Instead, it’s built to create suspense.”
Among the many stories Guber shares is one about how Lynda and Stewart Resnick (owners of Teleflora, FIJA Water, and POMWonderful) spent more than $200,000 for a string of imitation pearls worn by Jackie Kennedy. So why did they do it?
“…owning them gave Lynda the right and ability to analyze and copy them, right down to ‘the sterling silver clasp and the three little cubic zirconiums and the silk cord and the seventeen coats of lacquer.’ More than 130,000 of these exact replicas sold at $200 apiece, for a net profit of more than $26 million—all of it told and sold through story… ‘The promise of the story has got to deliver. If it doesn’t deliver, who would care?’”
Lynda tells Guber: “I don’t do companies that don’t have a story, because if they don’t have a story, they don’t have a business.”
Tell to Win is jammed with stories from and about Bill Clinton, Deepak Chopra, Steven Speilberg, Pat Riley and many others—all to illustrate how stories work to motivate, inspire, and sell. In fact, there are so many interesting stories in the book that sometimes it feels a little disjointed as you jump from one to the next. But all in all, it still makes a pretty good read.
One more quote from the book (from Steve Denning) that relates to telling stories in a marketing environment:
“The goal of story telling is to get the listener to take over your story. You want your story to become their story. Then they’re going to create a new story from your story. It’s going to to be adapted, changed, adjusted.”