Why storytelling matters: the Forward 2018 Conference

“Create extraordinary customer experiences everywhere your customers are.”

This was the theme with which Skyword CEO Thomas Gerace (who also co-authored Storynomics) kicked off the company’s recent Forward 2018 storytelling conference in Boston. By the end of the day, no one had any doubt that stories are the way forward in content and marketing.

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Some of the most memorable moments and takeaways from the day:

Eastern Bank‘s story of impact and responsibility had quite a few people considering a bank switch by morning’s end. So many brands have a heart-driven story of why they do what they do, and Easter Standard’s new campaign beautifully encapsulates its commitment to the people it serves. Banks and heart don’t typically easily live in the same sentence, but EB seems to have found a way to fix that, and much of it was rooted in the question: What does it mean to do good? The bank’s answer: Good isn’t just what you are, it’s what you do.

Lynda Berry danced, sang, and shared her wisdom on how to find our inner creatives and storytellers. Some of her favorite collaborators – the children she works with – have a natural knack for seeing where the pencil takes them, and her touching poems encouraged everyone in the audience to get a little bit free. Because the creativity that emerges from that freedom is the stuff we remember. More than data, more than reasoning or persuasion, stories are the things that stick.

Wes Moore, the day’s final speaker, told his own story of overcoming barriers both internal and external – and cultivated the type of empathy our world needs a little (ok, a lot) more of. He shared the story that became the foundation for his book, The Other Wes Moore, discussing two Baltimore boys who shared much more than just a name growing up – but ended up in very different places: one on the stage at Forward 2018 inspiring a roomful of storytellers, another in prison. They’ve since become friends through many letters and prison visits, and the Wes in front of us is determined to make sure that his counterpart’s story doesn’t get lost and serves a purpose.

Among the most notable life lessons he shared was this simple idea:

“We are not the products of our environments. We are products of our expectations.”

The physical takeaways: Storynomics, a great read on the power of storytelling, co-authored by Skyword’s CEO, and a storyteller’s notebook so no good idea goes unwritten.

The bottom line: Storytelling is the best marketing.

Thanks for a great day, Skyword.

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