Courageous Storytelling Drives Scribewise’s Inaugural Marketing for Humans Event
BY Ashley Read
April 22, 2021

We did it! After months of planning, a few test runs and a pep rally, the team at Scribewise was thrilled to present our first half-day conference, Marketing for Humans, on April 13.

We expected the event to offer tons of actionable tips and strategic insight into marketing that advocates for the customer. After all, we had some of the best in the biz in Natalie Nixon, Michael Brenner, Gerry Moran and Bill Gullan delivering presentations. 

What we didn’t plan for is the common thread that wove all of these stories together: courage. 

Breaking the Rules 

Natalie Nixon, Ph.D., a creative strategist and author of The Creativity Leap, started the day with a fireside chat on finding your creativity and knowing when to break the rules. As Natalie told it, breaking the rules takes courage. But more than that, it takes a deep understanding and respect for the rules you’re about to break. 

Rules were made for a reason, but just because something has been done a certain way, doesn’t mean it should always be that way. 

So, let’s ask why we haven’t considered hot pink for our new corporate logo (Thanks for the reminder, co-host and Scribewise Creative Director, Lauren Milewski!). 

Keeping the Kingdom Interested 

Next we heard from social media and content marketing strategist, Gerry Moran, who opened with an all-too-fitting analogy: A king broadcasting messages to his kingdom. 

Sometimes the king doesn’t choose the ideal messenger for what he’s trying to convey, or maybe he doesn’t have the experience to tell the story convincingly. Without content and strategy working together, the king won’t win the people’s interest and they won’t hear his message. 

Telling the king his strategy is flawed takes courage. And sometimes, according to Gerry, you might find that the kingdom you serve isn’t the place for you. 

Breaking the Web Traffic Fever

Marketing for Humans got its name from a conversation we had as an agency. We believe good marketing puts the customer, prospect or end-user first. That means providing content our audience wants to see—content that provides solutions to their problems. 

John Miller, founder and fearless leader (Editor’s Note: Ha!) of Scribewise, put a fine point on this in his presentation, The SEO Delusion. We believe most businesses need a set number of qualified leads to reach their goals, rather than seeking meaningless web traffic driven by SEO strategies that attempt to game the Google algorithm. 

Further, we believe the data we collect from those folks should help us make strategic decisions to continue delivering useful content, and that the data works for us. Not vice versa. 

But, once again, we find ourselves needing a little courage. Embracing a drop in web traffic to focus on attracting higher-quality traffic can be hard to explain to the higher-ups. But we’re here to have an impact, and metaphorically pouring gallons of water into a bucket with a hole in it doesn’t accomplish that. 

Building Better Brands 

Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, knows a thing or two about change. Finch helps companies revitalize their brands without alienating their most important constituents: employees and customers. 

Encapsulating—then staying true to—your mission, vision and values ensures your brand can survive momentous changes like a merger or acquisition, as well as the test of time.

According to Bill, embracing changes like a totally new visual brand or company name takes ongoing communication between decision makers and those constituents, as well as an openness to hearing the feedback they bring to the table. 

Finding Your Voice

Women account for just under 50% of the total U.S. workforce but hold only 23% of board seats in Fortune 500/S&P 500 companies. With less representation and fewer advocates at the top, it can be hard to find your voice or promote your work. 

For our panel discussion on the experience of women in B2B marketing, we heard from five speakers—Heidi White, CMO, Navigate; Olivia Armstrong, Associate Marketing Director, Hencove; Laura Spaventa Lewis, Director of Marketing, Unusual Ventures; Jen Cohen Crompton, Writer, Entrepreneur and Speaker; and discussion leader Kaitlin Loyal, VP, Scribewise—about the challenges they’ve faced, and the way those challenges made them better leaders and marketers. 

Panelists also discussed the ways women bring emotional intelligence to decision making, often making them more skilled in “reading the room” and taking cues from the group. 

Telling the Right Stories

Our final presenter and author of Mean People Suck, Michael Brenner, started off his presentation with a hard truth: Most marketing sucks. 

Similar to the king Gerry described, sometimes the folks dictating marketing priorities are more closely aligned with sales or the c-suite than the kingdom of customers who consume your content. 

Unfortunately, that often means messaging straight from business development that lacks empathy and, ultimately, creates a drag on sales. Michael introduced us to a handful of marketers he’s met over the years who courageously challenged that concept and reintroduced empathy in storytelling to considerable business success. 

For example, Michael caught this author off-guard with a tear-jerker of a video from Amanda Todorovich at the Cleveland Clinic, who convinced her bosses to reconsider their content strategy with a look at what attracted her to the brand before she was an employee: the deep, emotional commitment of their employees to helping their patients. 

If you were able to join us for Marketing for Humans, we’d like to thank you again for your time, as well as your thoughtful questions. We are proud to have the opportunity to donate all registration fees to charities selected by our presenters. If you weren’t able to tune in, we hope to catch you at the next event. Maybe we’ll have a book club for Natalie Nixon’s The Creativity Leap? Have the first 50 registrants started reading their free copy?

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