1. Telling, not showing. 


One of the most fundamental maxims of storytelling is “Show, don’t tell” — and for a good reason. Rather than talking AT your audience, telling them what to do or feel, share the story so that it unfolds naturally and your audience comes to their own conclusion themselves. 


  1. Too much jargon. 


Don’t bore us get to the chorus. Too much copy can send an audience into a content tail spin. 

So in this case it’s easy to ask ourselves WHAT IS MARKETING, REALLY? And to answer that I think of a quote from Steve Jobs, “To me marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember very much about us — no company is. So we have to be very clear about what we want them to know about us.” 


  1. Too impersonal. 


It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, human beings are still driving the action. Make what you’re saying real enough so that the audience feels a stake in it.


  1. Starting from the beginning.  


To really impact people, your story should describe increasing risk and increasing consequences until the final, inevitable conclusion — but not necessarily the one that the audience expects.


  1. Lack of conflict. 


Where’s that line of tension?

Something always goes wrong in companies, particularly start-ups. 

screw-ups also present opportunities to shine through vulnerability, transparency and honesty. 


  1. Fabrication. 


For fucks sake your story needs to be authentic. People want to hear and be moved by real stories. A fake story begs for backlash, don’t be that person who has to navigate backlash haters. 


  1. Proprietary.


Don’t be stingy with your story, your knowledge or who tells it.

The best tactic here is to create an internal “story bank,” or database of stories and keep them in a singular location.


Tread Lightly


As content marketing has become the norm, tactical storytelling is on approaching being broken down to a science. But there’s danger in being overly reductionist. What makes good stories work is the same unpredictable, creative, unintuitive quality that makes humans human. Breakout success won’t follow from the rote application of step-by-step guides or how-tos. Design your strategy to avoid the seven sins above, however, and you’ll be in good shape to forge a voice of your own.




THINK big.  

Dream HUGE.  

SHOUT loud.