Trapeze Trapeze – Web Marketing | Trapeze DAOR for Canadian Tire | Toronto & New York

Trapeze Trapeze – Web Marketing | Trapeze DAOR for Canadian Tire | Toronto & New York

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Marketing, where the rubber hits the AIR…

From ‘Rubber hits the Road’ to ‘Rubbr hits the Air’…what happened to the reputation of Marketers?

Marketers are good with stories, except when asked to justify results or explain variances to the plan, and when asked to connect corporate strategy to markets and products…well it gets even worse.

Work Smart Not Hard — A Funny Story

At a time when the great land in which they lived was impoverished an accountant and a storyteller both happened to arrive at a crossroads looking for gainful employment to earn enough to eat dinner and find a place to sleep.  The accountant verbally abused the storyteller saying that he, because of his stature and superior education, should rightfully be able to seek employment at the crossroads without passersby being put off by a lowly storyteller.

The storyteller thought for a moment and then agreed to defer to the accountant if he would answer two questions.  The accountant who considered himself superior in all matters agreed.  The storyteller first asked what the accountant would do to earn enough from the passersby to buy dinner and lodging for the evening.  “Why that is simple”,  said the accountant,  “I will offer my advice to complex financial problems.  For that advice they would have to pay greatly and to ensure that I don’t demean my profession I shall offer to any who employ me twice the work for regular wages.  Surely even an idiot would understand the value that I offer to the wise who avail themselves of my vast knowledge and experience.” 

“Will you allow me to sing a song once you have finished offering your advice?” asked the storyteller.   Hearing this question the accountant knew that the storyteller was not a threat, and was probably and idiot as he knew that the storyteller had a terrible voice.  “Of course!” said the accountant, and they both waited patiently for their first client. 

In a little while a rich man stopped at the crossroads and the Accountant approached him full of self-praise and offered his services for the very reasonable fee.  After giving the rich man some very good advice to very complex matters the accountant was about to ask for his fee when the Storyteller stood up.  “What does he want?” asked the rich man.  “He wants to sing for you” replied the accountant, and sing he did.  The storyteller’s voice was so loud, and terrible that they both winced.  Visibly angered the rich man shouted, “Where did you learn to sing, you are terrible!”  “Why the accountant of course,” said the storyteller, “I just followed his advice” he said smiling broadly.

Upon hearing this the rich man gave a tip to the Storyteller who saved him from the humiliation of the accountant’s advice and ran away from both of them as fast as his feet could carry him.  Fortunately the tip was enough for two meals and two rooms at the Inn, and of course the storyteller shared his bounty with the accountant as he was the source of both of their fortune.

The moral of this story, or rather one moral, is that numbers can only go so far and when you really have to get a job done find a good story as stories trump numbers more often than not.  The simple way this moral is often expressed is –Work Smart Not Hard, but then again it may have been an accountant who summarized it to four words leaving out the kernal of value in the story.



Chanel No5 and knowing the future

As a fully recovered accountant I have moved from someone who serves client processes to being a storyteller. Oddly enough I do this successfully by offering analytics services based on Microsoft, Cognos and Business Objects technologies in the international enterprise spaces which they occupy.

Here is how I make the link from stories to numbers with a little mantra that I call my ‘story lens’.

Story Process Software Brand KPI

Tell a story twice and it becomes a Process.
Tell a story three times and software is made to speed up Processes.
Tell a story four times and you create a Brand value.
Tell a story five times and someone creates a KPI to measure.

Anyone can point this story lens at a corporation’s value chain to obtain a clear understanding of what is happening there today and what will happen in the next 6 to 12 months.

I add two simple tools to magnify the value of a story lens:

1. Personae–build key personae with a focus on behaviours
2. Scenarios–gather stories that are the core of the financial forecasts of a corporation and its key value stream partners.

First observe which Personae are linked to a corporation’s value stream stories and determine how those Personae might change their behaviours in the next 6 to 12 months.

Next identify the key stories attached to the corporation’s financial forecast–these stories are the orginial story bucket or Scenario at the core of the financial statements.

Then modify some of the original stories according to anticipated changes in Persona behaviours and add new stories which may occur in the future, not those that are a progression of current stories but rather those that may occur due to unforseen events such as Barrack Obama being elected as the next US President. Once the new stories are combined to those in the original Scenario label this bucket of stories Scenario2.

Then consider how you would have to manage and align the business if the world unfolds according to the stories in Scenario1, or your current financial forecasts or if the world unfolds according the the stories that make up Scenario2.

To come full circle, all this is possible by working with a story or rather a series of stories and linking them to Personae.

All storytellers intuitively understand that numbers and stories are complementary and as a storyteller I must point out that at one time stories and numbers were one and indeed even today a number evokes many stories–the numbers 7 or 4 in the Chinese culture or even the number 5 in our own.

Chanel No5–the link between Africa and the western world–

In the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria the deity of love, sexuality and finance is OCHUN and her number is 5.

Coco Chanel either new and used this mythical connection or was extremely lucky. Either way the connection of stories and numbers is illustrated effectively here and others who wish more proof can research as time permits with luminaries like Marie-Louise von Franz.

though I suggest this as a first read

On Divination and Synchronicity: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance. Originally Presented As Lectures at the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich (Studies in Jungian Psychology) (Paperback)
by Marie-Louise von Franz

Stories are the core of what we are and what we do, and for those with an unclear understanding of what a storyteller means let me offer this view–first a storyteller hears a story, repeats a story, modifies a story, builds a story and finally lives a story.


Numerati and the stories behind Persona behaviours.

Marketers are just catching up to artists when it comes to understanding the value of the Persona construct.  What is a Persona and how do different Personae interact?  A simple definition of a Persona is a mask that someone wears, not to hide their identity but rather to simply and clearly indicate the behaviour that they are predisposed towards. 

Artists understand that they can wear and discard masks or Personae at will and this is explored further in and and while Artists are story focused, Marketers look for and consume numbers in their quest for selling products and ideas.

Why is it that we distinquish and divide stories and numbers?  –Conditioning, pure and simple.

If you are an accountant, actuary, economist or practice any othe commercial profession that depends on numbers consider that underlying every number, individually or in combination, there lies a story or two.

Financiers, Venture Capitalists and other Master’s of the Universe often forget that stories preceed numbers and actually manifest their forecasts.  Oddly enough once these stories manifest numbers the numerati then forget their existance and attempt to understand and influence the future with numbers alone.

You are welcome to explore the relationship between numbers, stories and numerati here and at or or to see different perspectives of links between stories and numbers, now or in the future.