Marketers, take a lesson from Hollywood: Don't forget the story.

Movie people already know what marketers still need to learn: The audience has to care. It doesn’t matter if the film is a comedy, sci-fi or an action film, it won't work if the audience doesn't care about the story and the characters. Great technology and special effects couldn't help films like John Carter and Water World overcome weak stories. In contrast, films like RockyJuno, and Little Miss Sunshine were financial successes despite being low-budget and relatively low-tech. The audience connected with the story. 

The industry pushes marketers to be technologists and data scientists, forgetting that technology and analytics don’t make customers care. Story does. A powerful marketing automation technology stack can't overcome a brand story no one cares about. Marketers need to remember that the key role of marketing is to tell the story about where the customer and company stories intersect.

Key to telling the company story is getting out from behind screens. All marketers -yes, the marketing technologists too- need to spend time with company founders learning the company history. They need to work side by side with employees from across the company. They must engage with customers across the end-to-end customer journey. This foundation of marketing cannot be outsourced. Even an agency skilled at developing story cannot replace the long-term work of an empathic, story-driven marketing team.

Marketing can succeed with a great story and minimal technology. Marketing can't survive long with great technology and a story no one cares about. Get the story right. Use the technology to support that story.