What’s the art of telling a great story?

Answered by: Tien Tzuo, CEO, Zuora

Category: Marketing and Sales

I remember a moment when I was an 8-year old Cub Scout camping and sitting with people around a campfire, telling ghost stories. I couldn't come up with a story. I wasn't born a storyteller. But in my early 20s, I did sales for a couple of years and I found myself just presenting two-three times a week. It's a lot of practice. If I could live another life, I would be a reporter. Let me tell you why. People ask how we came up with the subscription economy concept. It was month three at the company and a reporter friend asked me what we were trying to do. We are still in stealth mode. He knew that Salesforce disrupted Siebel and at the time Zipcar was kind of disrupting GM and Netflix was disrupting Blockbuster. It was early 2008 and after I talked for 20 minutes. He said, "Okay I got it."

The next day he wrote a blog post and it was headlined "Powering the Netflix Economy." I admire the journalistic instinct to delve into a story, distill it down and turn complexity into something we can all read and understand in a rapid amount of time. We loved the Netflix tagline but we thought, we're going to get sued right? So we eventually came up with the Subscription Economy and ran with it. But in the end, you've just got to practice. At Zuora, we have this weird in our marketing team where we love to break down movies and extract the storylines. Then we see with our efforts if we're trying to tell the Avengers story or the I am Legend story or the Social Network story because we're trying to breakdown our messages to a common story that we all can see.