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Peter Guber's magic formula for marketing success

Peter Guber's magic formula for marketing success Jodi Harris

Mandalay Entertainment Founder and CEO Peter Guber knows how to motivate an audience. The entertainment pioneer who also started Columbia Pictures, Polygram Records, and Casablanca Records is credited with green-lighting some of the most memorable movies in history: "Taxi Driver," "Batman," and "The Color Purple," to name a few. 

In Guber's keynote presentation at iMedia's 2009 Entertainment Marketing Summit in Beverly Hills, Calif., he shared some of his marketing mojo, explaining that it all comes down to persuading someone who isn't in your camp (whom he calls, the incumbent) to do something -- buy something, view something, support something, etc. And, in order to do this, you must first manage three key emotional states: fear, uncertainty, and resistance to change.

Guber explained that this task was easier in the past because change came slowly. "Now, the artist and audience are connected at speed of light," he said. But they can still be managed, according to Guber, by investing in what he calls "state of the heart technology" -- also known as good storytelling.

"All power of great leaders lies in their ability to bring their story forward and narrate that offering into a resonant, actionable, memorable story," Guber said. 

The power in the oral story
Guber explained that humans are hard-wired to relate stories as a means of communication: "It has allowed us to socially organize and use language to drive ourselves to the top of the food chain," he said. He also described what he feels is the secret sauce to narrating a story that engages, whether it be for entertainment or persuasion: emotional transportation, which is when the information is bonded to the emotion related in the story.

"In your story, you must demonstrate that you have a stake in the outcome too. To do this, you must be genuine and authentic. You must own your story before you tell it," Guber said.

So, then, if the secret to creating the "oohs and aahs" necessary to get an audience to follow your lead is to tell them a story they can relate to, what should marketers be aiming to do when crafting these stories around a brand? Guber's advice is to motivate your audience to embrace your goal interactively with great content -- a concept he refers to as M.A.G.I.C:

M: Motivate
You must have intention before you can get an audience's attention. The audience must see you be at risk with them. Once you create this, the audience will follow you. You don't need to know all the answers, as long as you are authentic, Guber said. 

A: Audience
You, as the storyteller, are the artist, and the audience is your listener. The audience expects experiences. It's all about rendering the experience to them -- not what you find interesting but what they do.

G: Goal
Every story is a call to action. Know what it is and don't try to keep that goal secret, Guber advised. "If you are authentic in what you say, it will be OK (in fact, it will be better.)"

I: Interactivity
All neural narrative is interactive, as the brain is always sending signals back and forth. Guber recommends that marketers look at every meeting as a conversation, not a speech. Your audience is more likely to remember and accept your message if you weave it into the form of an interactive story -- "It is what makes your information memorable and resonant," he said.

C: Content
"Look for good content within your own experience," Guber said. "Use analogy, metaphor, or any other device to bring it out. Look for something where emotion shines through and you can bond the story to it."

According to Guber, if you can use any of these five in your communication efforts, you'll create an emotional platform of relevance. "Your journey is moving other people's hearts before their wallets," he said.

Jodi Harris is senior editor at iMedia Connection.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Jodi Harris is the Director of Editorial Content & Curation at Content Marketing Institute. As an independent consultant, Jodi develops strategic content programs and projects for brand, media, and agency clients in the marketing, entertainment,...

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Commenter: Marvin HImel

2009, June 30

Great advice and spot on! As a Sales Trainer and Coach, I always try to integrate good storytelling coupled with emotions as a way to motivate my audience. If my presentation is tired and lethargic one day, I can see that transpose in my audience. Once I recognize that emotion, I know I need to step it up and create some energy to involve the listeners and give them an experience. I couldn't agree wtih your theory more.