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How to tell better stories with your podcast featuring Park Howell

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Episode Summary

Traditional media used to hold a monopoly over public opinion Although TV radio and print are still a significant part of mass media social media has sparked many changes including an evolution in how companies market themselves

In addition social platforms have allowed every user to share their thoughts doubts discoveries and conclusions regarding all sorts of topics influencing and even shaping the opinion of those who follow them

In the digital space everything revolves around content But not just any old type of content It has to be interesting and unique content People dont want to waste their time on boring posts They want something they can learn from or something that entertains them

You may think But we are the XYZ company offering a product or a service how can we educate or entertain Well yes you can! First ask yourself what your companys mission is what you want to achieve with your product or service Why did you develop it The answers to all these questions are the key to connecting you with your ideal customer

The thing is we all turn to some product or service when we have a problem we look for a solution So heres when your company steps in You have a product and a customer has a problem your product is a solution to that problem its a piece of cake

But the customer will not know you have a solution if you dont tell them So what should you do Its simple Tell the story In fact as our guest says storytelling is a superpower only human beings possess so if screenwriters novelists or poets can evoke emotions why shouldnt businesses do the same

In todays episode of Recorded Content Park Howell the story strategist speaker and podcast host joins Tristan Pelligrino Park is also a co-author of The Narrative Gym Introducing the ABT Framework for Messaging and Communication a book he wrote alongside Dr Randy Olson Park and Tristan discuss the positive influence storytelling can have on business growth They also talk about the ABT And But Therefore framework and how it can be used to change the way companies create their content

According to our guest storytelling is a skill almost anyone can learn it all depends on how determined a person is In fact high-quality storytelling is based on simplicity Thats why he believes in the ABT framework and its success

Guest Profile

Name: Park Howell

What he does: Park is the story strategist speaker and podcast host

Company: The Business of Story

Noteworthy: Park is the host of the Business of Story podcast created to help professional services firms craft and tell compelling brand stories to drive personal professional and organizational growth

Key Insights

  • Storytelling is our superpower so lets use it for good Even when not aware people use storytelling in their everyday communication In fact storytelling is a superpower only human beings possess It is a skill that gives meaning to everything that happens to us It allows us to connect with others and build relationships Thats why companies should incorporate storytelling in their marketing strategies because people will pay attention to your products or services only if they can relate to them There is not another being on this planet or in the universe that we know of that can think coordinate and act in story So it gives us a superpower over all other living entities because we think and act in story
  • The ABT framework originated from classic Hollywood storytelling techniques Behind every successful storytelling coach are years of research and looking for the right writing formulas Park has dedicated his time learning from the best in the field So where are the worlds best storytellers In Hollywood Whats even more interesting is that Parks middle child his son went to film school at Chapman University in Orange California So as our guest reveals he asked his son to send him books he could study from Thats when he came across Joseph Campbells The Heros Journey a book that inspired him to create the Story Cycle System
  • Can anyone be an excellent storyteller A common misconception is that writing solely depends on talent Of course no one denies that some people are born writers or natural storytellers But not everyone will make a living out of it or even develop that skill Being a high-quality storyteller means loving and being dedicated to your vocation the quality doesnt come overnight and requires a lot of practice There are going to be better natural storytellers that can own a stage They just get it And thats just the way it works but thats like 10 of the world I am a big believer that you can get 80 of the world comfortable in having the impact that they want to make through their storytelling And then you probably got like 20 of them that just dont care and will never use it

Episode Highlights


One of the books that stuck out to me is Noah Hararis Sapiens Its just such a marvelous read talking about why we human beings Homo sapiens have become the most aggressive invasive species of all time So much so we could potentially wipe our own species off the face of the world if we dont do something about it

And at the core of that is our ability to assemble coordinate and act in story Primarily around fiction because you think about it You and I are going to get together I say Hey Tristan tomorrow we got to meet over at this great place Were going to have a beer but Im going to introduce you to one of the greatest rock bands I love them I think youre going to love them What do you say And youre like Well okay Cool Lets do it Everything about it is a story that I shared with you about what tomorrow could look like And I want to turn that fiction into a fact Well there is not another being on this planet or in the universe that we know of that can think coordinate and act in story


Like everything theres an evolution to it and advertising is no different I was raised on traditional media So our clients and customers own the influence of mass media Were talking about TV radio print outdoor direct mail public relations and events there was no Yelp

So once the interwebs came in e-commerce websites social media took off we all know what happened It leveled the playing field and where brands used to own the influence of mass media the masses had become the media And they are more vocal today than ever

Think about it everybody watching this you and I we get to be our own TV station radio station print production house whatever 247 from the privacy of our own kitchen table with global reach So I started recognizing as we were trying to get our heads around digital marketing and where this was all going that the amount of communication that was now bombarding us from every kitchen table out there made me completely rethink how you go about branding and communication Not only online and outreach marketing but even internally


When I looked at The Heros Journey it immediately hit me from a brand marketer standpoint Im like Look this is a map to humanity and how you communicate and take an audience on a journey Well isnt that what every brand is supposed to be doing Why dont we map The Heros Journey to business

And so instead of taking or just using his 12 to 17 steps depending on who you follow about Joseph Campbell I mapped it down to the ten steps of the Story Cycle System tried to take that complex framework and simplify it for business First and foremost by 2008 2009 to start using it for brand story strategy creation And then that complexity led me to simplicity And the more I worked on it over the past ten years the more I found a couple of other narrative frameworks that are even more important for day-to-day communication


I think why there is no more story going on in general is storytelling is difficult if youre trying to wing it If youre not intentional about your storytelling you default to features and facts and functions because thats what youve talked about your product or service You think youre telling a story but youre not Youre telling an exposition which is Act One of the story which is and and and

And youre boring your audience your prospect your buyer to death And all you gotta do is Why story Well when was the last time you were bored buying anything Its hard unless you practice it and you gotta practice it every day Thats why I didnt bail on my 10 step Story Cycle System I still use it for long-form communication and story strategy but I boiled it down to the ABT because everybody can grasp that And that gives you that functional start to build upon


We have done a lot of research Randy more than I but working with a lot of his other academic and science writers we have determined that but is the single most powerful word that triggers the limbic system because it indicates change

If you are selling anything but is the most critical word because in that ABT youre going to be talking about your customer buyer and what it is that they want but heres why they dont currently have it Therefore heres how youre going to get it Without the but you have no story because that is the complication Thats the conflict That is what arouses our attention And then we pay it off with our solution and the therefore statement


You always have that divide and because these smaller B2B marketing firms maybe they dont have a huge Salesforce Maybe they dont have a huge marketing group but even if they have one or two or three in each one of those divisions you have a divide in how they communicate

Marketing will tend to go out and do chest-pounding and talk about features and functions and how wonderful our product is Well sales on the other side is like Dude thats not what I need I need to understand what the true impact is were making in the world

So what they can do is all of them starting with the ABT learn it together And then what we found works well is to have a salesperson go and read a landing page using an ABT for marketing and have a marketing person go and write the ABT for the introduction of a sales presentation

And now both departments are speaking to the customer and buyer from the customer and buyers perspective With the but underscoring whats their problem that you are going to help them overcome And then therefore you get to talk all day about your brand At that point if youve developed enough conflict between what they want and why they dont currently have it and how you can help them get it thats where story comes in It starts with that basic very fundamental cue that works the departments together

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