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Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  842 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Trying to get your message heard? Build an iconic brand?
Welcome to the battlefield.

The story wars are all around us. They are the struggle to be heard in a world of media noise and clamor. Today, most brand messages and mass appeals for causes are drowned out before they even reach us. But a few consistently break through the din, using the only tool that has ever moved mi
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published June 19th 2012)
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Mal Warwick
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A Brilliant New Book on Marketing Destined to be a Classic

If you’ve never seen the wildly popular online videos The Story of Stuff and The Meatrix, do yourself a favor and check them out. These two outstanding examples of the marketer’s craft embody the insights revealed in Jonah Sachs’ outstanding new book, Winning the Story Wars.

For years now, everyone involved in marketing, fundraising, communications, social media, or any related field has been intensely aware that the key to successful mes
Rob Fulton
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is great. The first half of this book is about the concept of storytelling using his unique formula, building a memorable brand and how you can avoid sabotaging your story with learning what "The Five Deadly Sins" of story telling are.

The next half of the book is so meaningful in the approach to jumping from what Jonah calls "inadequacy marketing," to "Empowerment Marketing."

This one BIG idea, is worth the price of this book alone. When I read that I changed our video sales letter scr
Grace Rose
Jul 18, 2012 is currently reading it
I think this book is going to really rock my world. I just listened in to a webinar yesterday given by the author, and based on that, I'm pretty sure the book (which I'm only about 20 pages into) is going to be incredibly informative, useful, and uplifting. Will report back! ...more
Jewel Miller
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Author's description of how humans relate to stories felt so true it was as if he was reminding me of information that I had forgotten rather than trying to teach new material. Extrapolating that into the world of marketing was very eye opening. ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Strong start to this book. Great concepts. Liked the principles as well as the chapter on sins marketers are committing. Thought the tie in for business could have been a little stronger.
Matthew Kaboomis Loomis
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for all Marketers. Filled with advertising campaigns from history that illustrate the author’s points, this book takes you on a journey—a battle between “dark marketing” vs. the new enlightened marketing that is more effective in today’s digital world—you start out soaking in the stories, and then in the last third of the book the author teaches you the steps to applying this new marketing strategy to your brand (or a client’s brand).

If this book is not already c
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: grad-school
3.5 stars. Good marketing techniques book with nice examples and great takeaways. I’ll definitely be referencing it in the future. Good for grad school!
Sep 02, 2020 rated it liked it
A marketing book for idealists. The author shares compelling stories and significant failures that convey his convictions quite well. His approach to building a brand based on a significant and real story is also quite interesting.

But I don't think it's very practical for many marketers. Very few companies choose to fundamentally align themselves with doing good, being significant and are willing to make the effort to really connect with their audience. Of course, quite a few extremely succesful
Solomon Mark
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Winning the Story Wars is an Impressive book. Its a book about branding and marketing. Arthur Jonah Sachs explains about how a Story plays important role in marketing. In old day humans are always obsessed with stories. We share our thoughts or information using storytelling. In those days leaders or mentors used to share ideas and in Digitorial world we call them as Marketers. In this Digitorial era marketers uses social media, Television and internet for branding and marketing their products. ...more
Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sachs wrote a marketing book with a twist. He offers a compelling story for marketers to change their marketing tactics from treating them as passive consumers, to empowered doers who act as brand heroes for your company.

Sachs argues that by combining story and myth we can create truly revolutionary ad campaigns that move people towards action. In order to this the company should follow John Powers three rules to marketing: tell the truth, be interesting, and live the truth—in other words, pract
Rajiv Chopra
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: current-history
This book had much promise, and did partially deliver on the promise. There were some very good points about the art of story telling, and myth, and I think that Jonah started well.

I like the concept of the book and, in many ways, he was very smart to focus on the art of story telling through marketing messages. These now dominate our world. Shorter messages have dominated our world, and we have forgotten the art of writing, reading, the telling of, and the listening of a finely crafted story.
Christopher Clark
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
The irony of this book (or I suppose hypocrisy might work too) is he preaches his 'myth' or 'stories' that he believes, and uses that as examples. His stories are of course the typical left wing chicken little stuff. Of course, Glenn Beck is mocked, not that I am a fan of his, but it's a leftist book. Too bad, because I like the book's premise. It would be nice to see an objective account of this premise. ...more
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
The reviews I read prior to reading this book, made me expect a very different kind of work. Maybe the story wars were being waged in the reviews. I ended up skimming this title. I think I was not the target audience for this title.
Hannah Mason
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although a few years old, this is the best text on marketing that I’ve read.

It does the usual things: summarizes the history of marketing, gives examples of the best and worst marketing campaigns up to the book’s publication date, and provides a guide for how to make your own marketing better.

But this is a different sort of marketing book, too. It doesn’t just tell you how to use marketing to persuade people to buy stuff. It is, really, a book about empowerment marketing.

It comes from a persp
Patrick McGlone
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Bridging the gap from old-think broadcast messaging, advertising, & marketing to the new world of social media is daunting, but necessary. Consumers are more savvy than ever, and the hard sell of old will not work on a broad audience anymore. People can find and share information much more easily than ever before. Jonah takes an old technique (word of mouth marketing) and provides tips and techniques to explain how to use it in this new digital world to not just improve your bottom line, but als ...more
Brad Henderson
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read!

The premise of this book is a war between what Jonah calls Inadequacy Marketing vs Empowerment Marketing.

He denounces all of the gimmickry of modern day marketing that uses sex, fear, manipulation and everything else a business possibly can to get you to buy their product. This he calls inadequacy marketing.

In contrast, the idea of empowerment marketing consists of inspiring your customers to reach beyond themselves and to fulfill their potential and create
Ingrid C
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Positive things about this book:
I work as a Content Specialist and sometimes in my role I struggle with the "content creation process", because I'm not sure if what I'm going to produce is going to be valid for the audience, this book comes with a specific process that seems to make sense. The concepts and ideas were clear and I'm definitely more excited and encouraged to put in practice the guideline/training that comes in the book.

Not so positive
Very few times I felt like skipping through th
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you've read Donald Miller's popular Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen or spent any time with Dan Harmon's "Story Circle," most of what you'll read in this book will be familiar to you.

If you haven't, "Winning the Story Wars" is a fantastic introduction to the archetypes and classic narrative arcs that have defined effective storytelling for millennia.

Either way, this book is a well-organized and engaging look at improving your copywriting. If you work in c
Misha Gericke
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I'm taking more of a responsibility for communications as opposed to only creating content, I've started doing some research on what a good communications strategy actually looks like.

I really liked this books approach to it because I come from a storytelling background and can feel the impact that communications as story can actually have. I really appreciated how the book gave me a framework for thinking about things like branding, taglines, etc. in an accessible way.

Previously this level
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seth Davis
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting take on marketing and building a brand. It's hard for me to rate the book without putting the suggestions within the book to practice but it seems like a good method. It had a lot of political undertones in my opinion that were somewhat distracting from the book's main purpose. All and all a decent read. ...more
Christine Whitmarsh
Jul 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
The story lessons at the beginning were great, but then he lapsed into politics (yes, I know ostensibly it was "storytelling examples" but really now...) and lost my attention. I love story to the core of my being but in books like this, where there is a clear reader promise of learning, I need it to be clearly coupled with content/knowledge. ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Engaging perspective on how stories are now an integral part of marketing. I liked the way the narrative flowed with stories, very appropriately, intermingling with the research part, which made the book so much better. I listened to the audiobook and I have the printed edition, which I will use as documentation for future storytelling research.
Harding Young
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A compelling strategy for not only engaging in, but winning the story wars.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
4 stars to the first half. Marketing
Barb Stuhlemmer
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Better the second time - there was just too much to take in while driving. I had missed a lot the first time through.
Great insights into how we use story to manipulate and influence others.
Taylor Newill
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
engaging book, how to be a better storyteller
Jan 16, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meg Greer
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for anyone in communication or who has a heart for story. Those who tell the best stories really do rule the world.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
I don't often want to buy the marketing books I read, but I will definitely be Amazon Prime-ing this book. Winning the Story Wars is part social science inquiry, part instruction, and part manual/workbook on how to market causes in the age of digital and social media.

The basic premise of Story Wars is that there is a lack of stories in American culture that expand our ability to see ourselves as part of a larger purpose. Sachs proposes that American marketing, since post-WWII, has been filling
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Jonah Sachs is an author, speaker and viral marketing trailblazer whose work helped spur the 21st century values revolution. Sachs’ pioneering new approaches to digital media were critical in bringing the ideals of social change—such as equity, empowerment, responsibility, transparency, and advocacy—to the forefront of business and popular culture.

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“Using Maslow’s insights, you can define higher-level values appropriate to your message, brand, and audience. Then, using what we learn from Joseph Campbell, you can turn those values into a resonant moral of the story and create a story structure that will appeal to the heroic potential in your audiences. These models show us a clear alternative to the dark, limited view of human nature inspired by Freud and brought to the marketplace by men like Edward Bernays.” 4 likes
“vanity sets in when you love what you’re selling so much that you assume everyone else will too. You start to believe your idea will sell itself if you can just reach out and tell people about it. You’re wrong.” 3 likes
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