Alan O’Neill is the head of marketing at Optimal Workshop in Wellington. He recently won two tickets to attend the Dreamworks and Te Papa event “Exploring Digital Storytelling” for This is his story (well, review).

“Meet passionate animators, hear their stories, and learn what it takes to bring bright ideas to the screen.”

This was the description of the event I recently attended in Te Papa. Sounds exciting! Sounds like something a marketer could use—bringing ideas to their website or application. It has the same goal, just on different medium. Yep, so as the kiwis say (I’m Irish), I was keen as.

Okay, let me tell you what I learnt.

The setup of the event was a 20 minute presentation from each of the three heavyweights in the animation industry, and then a Q&A session—questions sourced via #TePapaTalks.

Kelly Cooney, DreamWorks Animation SKG Production Manager

First up to talk was Kelly, who went straight into showing us the very entertaining scenes that never made the cut of the Shrek movies. These scenes were funny, witty, fast moving, and well constructed. But Kelly emphasised the importance of iteration. Even though these certain scenes worked on their own, when they tested the movie out with what the tech industry calls usability participants, they saw that these scenes did not work in delivering the story as a whole. So they iterated and tested till they got the story right. Marketers; You can obviously see how this would work for us. Testing all the pieces of communications is vitally important to understand if you’re heading in the right direction. I shared this blog with another marketer, before we (Nicole) hits publish. And even after, we still get the opportunity to iterate and repurpose the content.

Mario Wynands, Managing Director and Co-founder, PikPok

PikPok is a digital publisher across mobile, tablet, and desktop platforms. Mario talked about the importance of experiences. Every touchpoint the audience has with your story needs to give a good experience. And that experience should ride along with your story. 100% agree with this statement. A good experience with your website or application is a marketer’s best asset. Without it, you might as well be selling used razor blades. If your service is needed, and you provide a good experience, your job as a marketer is so much easier. We need to ensure that these good user experiences are taking place throughout our whole business (customer support, email marketing, application, website etc.). Get involved! Here’s a beginners guide to get started.

Wayne Stables, Weta Workshop

The last talk by Wayne and the Q&A session was very entertaining but they focused on the animation industry and case studies—less on storytelling. Example of the type of questions asked through Twitter; #tepapatalks Coffee or energy drink for intense deadlines?

Learnings for marketers

Overall I really enjoyed this event. As a marketer, you use any opportunity you can to learn new methods and process to engage your audience. Sharpening you toolkit is essential in the tech industry, as channels and technologies are continually changing. If you want to increase traffic, time-on-site, conversions etc—you need to stay on top of new methods. This strive for learning new things, has sometimes clouded my view on what really matters. At the core of each of these new technologies, is a human (or marketer 🙂 ) creating a story.

A good story shapes emotions, directs actions, and ultimately helps you achieve business goals. So learning how to create good stories and experiences should always be on top of our reading lists.

Please share in the comments below any links about good storytelling. I’m still learning. Thanks!

Header image credit:  John Strang and Leo Chida, Dusk

Posted by Nicole Williams

I'm a marketing geek with a passion for tech. Previously, I was the marketing manager for SilverStripe (open source CMS and cloud PaaS) Currently, podcaster and blogger for and founder of Wellington Marketing meetup. Currently exploring Europe and living the dream! I'm always up for a chat about marketing and I love sharing my experiences so that others don't have to learn the hard way.

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