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Ditching the Script [AMA Recap]

From creating Facebook posts, to writing a radio spot, to knowing what to share on Instagram – our world is demanding constant content with sparks of creativity. But what happens when you hit a writers’ block? When you’re just not sure what to share or what your consumers will be interested in reading or watching?

At a recent American Marketing Association luncheon, Jolean Olson, Director of Development for Scenic Road (a marketing agency focused on creating powerful content through video and other visual methods), shared fourteen tips to answer those questions. Her goal is to help those creating content to dig deeper into strategy and storytelling, which results in a better connection with consumers. These tips help us promote our brands’ authentic message.

Olsen noted that according to a recent Nielsen study, 92% of consumers want advertising that feels like stories. Here are Olsen’s tips for making that happen:

  1. Give the converting stage its due. Ideation is the hard part of storytelling. As Olsen put it, “You sometimes feel like you can’t swim when you once knew how.” Be patient; take time in the process to solve it with novelty and relevance.
  1. Really listen. To consumers, employees, everyone around you – what do they want to know?
  1. Seek your universal truth. Don’t move on in the creative process until you’ve answered what the universal truth to your message is. Olsen had us watch this video and discuss what we thought the universal truth was


Our ideas included: hard work pays off and everyone loves an underdog, among others. This clip proves that the best stories have a journey. Even if you only have 60 seconds in a commercial, take your consumers through a journey experience.

  1. Look for a theme. This will help focus and guide your strategy.
  1. Change the channel. You can’t always create new content, but you can repackage old content in new ways. Think about how you would tell your story if you had to differently (taking content from Facebook and translating that onto a blog) and find inspiration in that process.
  1. Speaking of inspiration, look everywhere for it. Olson quoted Bono in this tip, “Beg, barrow – just don’t steal.” Most creative ideas were sparked by something already created, then simply reimagined.
  1. On the other hand, look right in front of you. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from your own employees and customers. Tap into them as a resource. Olson noted that there is no company in the world like your company because of the unique people who work for you. Tell their stories.
  1. Get feedback. See what other people think to determine whether you should pursue an idea or nix it. They may be able to build something better off of your idea.
  1. When telling your story, details are your friends. Think like a journalist by explaining every part of the story – the who, what, when, where and why. Also, be clear and concise so people understand the details.
  1. Learn to spot magic in the moment – what makes us real and human? That can be a magical thing that we often look past as ordinary. Tell those stories.
  1. Pull back the curtain. Share behind the scenes so consumers feel involved with your brand. For retailers, this can be employees food prepping in the deli before it opens to customers or bakery workers icing specialty cakes. This may seem ordinary to your business, but to outsiders, it’s interesting.
  1. Add humor. Everyone loves to laugh and smile.
  1. Find the eye candy. It grabs eyeballs so consumers pay better attention to your message. “Today your images can’t just be good, they have to be great.”- @JoleanOlson. Everyone has access to a camera on their phones now, along with tons of apps and filters to make them look pretty. Your challenge is to make yours standout.
  1. Be real. Authenticity matters. At the end of the day, be you. Tell your story.

Olson’s key takeaways: Storytelling engages and gets results. We all feel like the good ideas are already taken, but if we look for inspiration everywhere, we’ll find it.

Why do I work at AWG? “I work with an amazing team that values creativity and innovation. I enjoy tackling new opportunities and challenges each day that, of course, always involve food!” -Cara