On the second focus group on storytelling in marketing and sales in Stuttgart on November 19th and 20th, the agenda was divided in expert talks and active workshops. For the talks, we learned from Andri Hinnen, founder and CEO of the Zurich-based Zense GmbH, Niklas Rorarius, Marketing Manager of Biotest Italia, and Prof. Katarina Stanoevska, Director of the Institute of Communication and Media at University of St. Gallen.

Andri Hinnen recommends not to simplify, but to reframe complexity.

Don’t simplify complex contexts, but reframe them to make them stick with your audience.

In his talk, Andri Hinnen shared his perspective on the nature and key factors of storytelling. For him, storytelling is too readily equated with simplifying complex contents. In his perspective, simplicity merely discards the detail that makes stories believable. Rather than simplifying, Andri proposed reframing complexity in order not to lose accuracy when telling a story, but rather benefit from the memorability of a new context, a conceptual twist – not for show, but for making the contents of the story stick with the audience.


Niklas Rorarius reports on storytelling in pharma.

Consider storytelling not only as a topic for consumer goods marketing – most of our talks originated from business-to-business cases.

In his talk, Niklas Rorarius shared his perspective on how Biotest uses storytelling techniques to communicate and raise awareness in the pharmaceutical industry. However, he was not alone to consider storytelling from a business-to-business perspective: he joins Herman Miller, Microsoft and Intel in illustrating how storytelling in business-to-business industries deals as much with the end consumer as it does with the business partner or sales structure – storytelling is about creating a pull environment.


Prof. Dr. Stanoevska presents cases of digital storytelling by curation in social media.

Use social media outlets not only to broadcast, but also to curate your stories and allow your audience to co-create.

In her talk, Prof. Katarina Stanoevska reflected upon the topic on storytelling in marketing and sales on the basis of how social media can be put to work. Her conclusion highlighted the benefits of using curation approaches in order to create topic hubs to activate consumers, pro-sumers and experts to co-create contents that illustrate the brand stories to be told. Thinking beyond social media as an outlet for stories, Prof. Stanoevska underscored the value of thinking of social media not as the final step of the content marketing communication chain, but rather the first.


A group of participants performs their self-written song based on a product’s value proposition together with Prof. Fischer and Dr. Flecker.

Develop your stories by careful data collection, reflection, and use of creative environments to generate a convincing plot.

After Dr. Johanna Gollnhofer initiated the workshop on the development on company-individual stories by illustrating her approaches to researching and constructing stories in her discipline of ethnographic consumer research, we continued the development of company story lines in Stuttgart. Here, we used both storyboarding and song-writing techniques in order to conceptualize and layout the stories. Kim-Qui Nguyen und Dr. Johannes Flecker directed two workshops in parallel in which the participants developed their companies‘ product or branding stories in form of songs and storyboarded scripts for short films. Taking into account both editions of the management focus groups, we arrived at the key learning of considering the construction of stories as deeply process-rooted, following the four steps highlighted in the introductory contribution of Dr. Gollnhofer: first to collect data, information, experiences and knowledge; second, organize and categorize the data; thrid, to interpret the data gathered and, finally, to craft a compelling story based on the collected data.

Stella Raith, one of our supporting story boarders, finishes her illustrations of a partner’s story on a service offer of the future.

We would like to thank all participants and speakers for an insightful and engaging second workshop on Best Practice in Marketing on „Storytelling in Marketing & Sales“.