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Scenes, Summaries, and Emotional Connections

by Hank Barnes  |  May 2, 2017  |  1 Comment

This week,  a couple of things caught my eye as I continue to prepare for the Gartner Tech Growth and Innovation Conference and my clinics on positioning and storytelling.

First, one of my new colleagues, Nick Toman from CEB (is now Gartner), shared this Think with Google article on moving from promotion to emotion. My over-simplified summary: you get attention in B2B by connecting with individuals emotionally–focusing on personal struggles and aspirations in a business context.

Second, Andy Raskin has a great article on Medium, The Stinky Cow Principle: How to Tell Stories that Make People Trust You.  In it he talks about the difference between just telling a summary versus setting the scene.


Check them both out.

But then you can put them in practice as you tell your customers’ story (or future story).

Think of the scene as the customer’s situation.  But make this personal.  How is this getting in the way of someone, or maybe a group of people, achieving their goals and aspirations?  How is it frustrating them?  Create the scene so that your audience can feel what others are experiencing.     A scene, that connects with personal emotions, will get attention.

Then you can continue to build out how the scene evolves to a better future with the help of your company, your products, your services.   You don’t have to reveal all the details–that can come in a future chapter.

We’ve become fixated on summaries or short value propositions.  We feel that shorter attention spans demand shorter statements. Unfortunately that approach takes all the emotion out of the equation.  There is no scene.

Start with the scene.  Condense it if possible, but don’t turn it into a flat, boring, all about you summary.    Bring it to life.

See if that gets you the attention to tell the rest of your story.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: b2b  b2b-buying  scene  storytelling  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Scenes, Summaries, and Emotional Connections

  1. Good article Hank. I’d add that you make a story emotional by making in concrete. Putting a real person in a real situation. If you make the scenario feel real, then the customer get’s the virtual experience of being there. They subconsciously process the experience, come to a conclusion and that subconscious decision is communicated to our conscious mind via an emotion

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