Master Storytelling, Not Mass Marketing: An Interview with Jay Acunzo

Eric Severstad
Posted by Eric Severstad on April 3, 2024
jay acunzo to speak about storytelling at experience inbound 2024

“Resonance over reach” is how author and consultant Jay Acunzo approaches modern marketing

With the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI), it has never been easier to crank out huge amounts of information… mediocre information, boring information, slam-your-head-against-the-wall information.

Yet, many businesses (and their marketing departments) continue to churn out mountains of content and participate on every social channel simply because that method was a staple of many marketing methodologies.

Jay Acunzo is changing that. Jay knows that a great story engages people and inspires action (when done correctly), whether that’s through a face-to-face conversation or a global marketing execution. I recently "sat down" with Jay (in a virtual room) to talk about this.

“The word ‘storytelling’ is an overused buzzword by modern marketers. It’s like a chef making ‘food’ a buzzword. Isn’t great storytelling what marketers should always be using?” Jay jokes.

Jay is an author, speaker, and consultant who hosts the brand new “How Stories Happen” podcast and is the cofounder of Creator Kitchen, a community of creative professionals.

When Jay speaks, people listen. One reason is because Jay doesn’t just have great stories to tell, he is a great storyteller. There’s a big difference between the two. Just knowing the structure of a story doesn’t automatically translate into storytelling that’s memorable and inspiring.

“In the mess is where you find your best.”

Each of us as individuals (and each business) has intriguing stories to tell, but we aren’t all good storytellers. Why not? Because it takes work and skill! When writing, for instance, you have to filter through many ideas and thoughts, a lot of which can be messy and scatterbrained, in order to craft a solid story. That crafting requires effort.

“I’m going to sit down, and make an utter mess in this document, and then I’m going to clean up the mess. That’s the work,” Jay adds.

So, can’t AI help with crafting words? Why can’t we lean on that tool to get good stories?

“I think people are trying to skip the mess in favor of using something that does the messy part for you,” he says. “But, it’s in the process of making a mess that the idea evolves or becomes clearer or gets stronger,” he adds. “In the mess is where you find your best.”

“What people are trying to do in turning to AI for the right words is we’re actually turning to AI for the thinking part. And that’s a real danger,” Jay says.

“You don’t experience stories. You experience life.”

“When it comes down to it, you don’t experience stories. You experience life,” Jay adds. And, because life isn’t exciting all of the time, we storytellers must take simple experiences and find what connects with people emotionally. That’s something, at this point, that AI isn’t able to do well.

“Injecting meaning into things that are ordinary isn’t easy,” he adds. That’s an active craft.

Obviously, moving people to take action is what marketers must do. How does storytelling accomplish that?

“Most people are trying to demand action from others. Storytellers know how to inspire action,” Jay says. “This is where good storytelling becomes effective storytelling.”

Modern marketing isn’t about reaching the masses, it’s about resonating with the select people that truly matter for a brand to succeed.

Jay’s keynote presentation kicks off the 10th anniversary of Experience Inbound, Wisconsin’s premier marketing and sales conference. His topic, “Playing Favorites: How to Compete on the Influence of Your Ideas (Not the Volume of Your Content),” promises to expand on his storytelling wisdom and advice.

“This truly is one of my favorite events in the entire marketing industry, and I’m excited to once again speak at Experience Inbound,” Jay says.

Experience Inbound has sold out in previous years, and the 2024 agenda is loaded with top-tier keynotes, fulfilling breakout sessions, and relevant topics for today’s business development landscape. Get insights you can act on right away by registering for this full-day event.

Pick your date and location (May 7 at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee or May 8 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay) and bring your team because there are too many sessions for one person to take in all of them! Click below to see the full agenda and register. 

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Topics: Weidert Group Events, Content Marketing

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