The importance of building a story brand and including narrative into marketing campaigns has been discussed for decades. The idea has made a resurgence recently and is more important than ever to stand out in a world that is full of ever increasing noise. I recently had the opportunity to interview Scott Swenson about his new book, “Follow The Story”. The book is a step-by-step guide on how to build story into every part of your attraction. Scott has been creating story driven attractions for over 30 years and was part of the team that created the Howl-O-Scream Halloween event at Busch Gardens Tampa. He discusses how to weave the story through every part of your experience, from marketing to merchandise. Although the conversation centered around themed attractions and haunted houses, the story brand framework can be applied to other industries as well.
“Follow The Story” is a great companion piece to “Building A StoryBrand” by Donald Miller. Donald helped bring back the concept of using narrative and the hero’s journey to the marketing zeitgeist. The book was first recommended to me by Cedar Fair’s CMO, Kelley Semmelroth, during a brainstorming session at Knott’s Berry Farm about expanding our Season Passholder base. Donald Miller’s content is highly actionable and helped clarify us clarify our messaging to both internal stakeholders and customers. I highly recommend the book for any marketer struggling with messaging, which is all of us at one point in time. Here’s the official description: “Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides listeners with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services.”
The good and bad part about marketing, especially digital marketing, is every time I begin to feel comfortable with my knowledge of the latest marketing trends, the entire industry seems to change. Although that can be frustrating, it also keeps me energized and focused on continued education. Since I started my career 15 years ago, trends have come and gone, and even come back again. The past few years have seen the biggest changes as digital marketing spends have begun to eclipse traditional marketing.
There’s a delicate balance between wasting your time chasing the latest trends and ignoring the future altogether. I have seen great marketers needlessly pivot from one fad to another, abandoning their strategy, and driving their teams crazy in the process. I have also seen the opposite, companies and individuals, ignoring industry progress and keeping their heads in the sand until the world passes them by. My preferred approach is the one utilized by companies including Coca-Cola and Leo Burnett; continued experimentation through trial and error using 10% of my annual budget to test out new media partners, strategies, and technology.
Below are a few of the resources I utilize to keep up with the latest marketing trends.
Subscribing to marketing newsletters is my favorite way to quickly follow the latest marketing news. They provide a curated sample of industry headlines that you scan through in a matter of minutes. Unlike social media, you can read them in a distraction free environment and not worry about going down a rabbit-hole of Internet surfing.
My Disneyland Training Manuel from 1967 is one of my favorite possessions that originally belonged to my Grandfather. The “Walt Disney Traditions At Disneyland” Disneyland training guide is a time capsule that captures Walt Disney’s genius. Cast Members were originally provided the training book after they sat through the University of Disneyland orientation program. During a recent move, I stumbled across the guide again and decided to scan every page to create this PDF:
On January 31st I had the opportunity to have a 2-hour lunch with Disney Legend Marty Sklar. Marty worked at Disney for 54 years in many roles including as a writer for the first Disneyland Newspaper, writer for Walt and Roy Disney, and as the leader of Walt Disney Imagineering as president and principal creative executive. The lunch was the first of the series “Lunch With a Legend” presented by the official Disney fan club D23. Continue reading →
Theme park books, which are well written and fun reads typically combine personal stories with business insights. I recently discovered a book that does just that. So far I have kept my 2013 resolution to read at least a book a month. I recently completed a Disney Legend and Imagineer’s biography, another Disney Legend’s book on design, a fascinating book about the story behind Twitter, and a disappointing biography about Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com. Continue reading →
The Internet is a great resource for learning, but in my opinion it’s terrible for first learning how to program. Recently a few people have asked me what’s the best website to use to learn how to program. My recommendation of a book usually surprises them. The best way to learn how to program is by disconnecting your computer from the Internet and by reading a book. With this method you won’t be continuously distracted by everything the Internet has to offer, you won’t be tempted to search for simple answers on Google, and you’ll be fully engrossed in the task at hand.
I have a hard time reading fiction, which frustrates my friends to no end. I struggled to keep my interest through Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, and Lord of the Rings. I’m not denying that those are great books, because they are and I enjoyed each of them. The issue is that reading them felt like a chore since I couldn’t directly connect with any of the stories. In stark contrast, I can devour non-fiction books that tell the true stories of how companies were formed and how products were. Here are a few of my recent favorites: Continue reading →