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Podcast Ep. 58: Carla Johnson on The Importance of Storytelling for Professional Services Firms

by Good2bSocial • July 31st, 2018 • Podcast

In this podcast Carla Johnson, founder of Type A Communications, speaks with us about the art of storytelling for professional services firms, the challenges of innovation within these firms, and how digital transformation has impacted the client experience.

Podcast Show Notes

Carla Johnson, founder of Type A Communications, is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author. Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries, leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action through amazing experiences. Her work with Fortune 500 brands set the stage for the latest of her seven books, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing.

Connect with Carla on Twitter or LinkedIn

What is the art of storytelling and how can marketing professionals use it?

The art of storytelling is getting people to rethink what they think they know and getting them to look at it from a different perspective. The goal for marketing professionals is to rethink what they do to get clients now and to consider what they could do differently. This is especially important today in a customer-driven society.

A lot of times professionals just wish clients understood the truth of the process. Storytelling for professional services firms can help them effectively explain their processes in engaging and helpful ways. A lot of times lawyers like to write as if they’re writing a law review article, but this doesn’t help educate potential clients in the way that storytelling does. If someone who reads your content was going to give it a ranking, how would they rank it? And how much of it could they turn it around and repeat what they understood?

How storytelling can help law firms differentiate themselves

If you look at what law firms say to differentiate themselves – they all draw from the same pool of words, which only reinforces how they’re the same. It’s important to tell a different story and behave differently as well. It’s essential to keep that human voice in what you do. Professional services are so focused on people, but often professionals keep their content sterile. Case studies which explain your results as if you’re telling a story are a great way to humanize your experiences.

What are courageous marketers?

Courageous marketers are those who are willing to rethink the work that they do on a regular basis. Everyone gets into an autopilot mode when they’re busy, but courageous marketers are able to stop and think about the work that they’re doing and where they need to be. The more that we can talk about how individual marketing activities relate to overall business objectives, the more marketers can do for their companies.

The challenges of working with professional services organizations

The biggest challenge is that they think too small and they don’t understand how they can take ideas from bigger companies and be just as innovative. There’s always an excuse for why you can’t do it. You don’t just want to copy and paste what others are doing, but you can benefit from uncovering the essence of what made a particular marketing campaign successful. Then, relate it into your own work. Within the legal industry it can be frustrating when law firms want to copy each other without thinking beyond that. You can be creative and think a little bit harder to make concepts your own.

The modern customer experience and the effect of digital transformation

The modern customer experience is something that starts from the first question someone has. This is the first opportunity that companies have to set themselves apart. Traditional customer experience starts when someone is looking for the solution to their problem and companies begin pushing their products and services on them. However, the modern customer experience starts much earlier and often companies don’t want to take the time to invest in this early stage of the client relationship. Yet, companies that do are far ahead of competitors because they are top of mind when the client is finally ready to make a buying decision.

Marketers and companies start to put metrics in place that often emotionally detach them from their client relationships. It automates processes that should remain humanized. Professional service marketers need to have contact with clients to get better insights beyond the data. Digital transformation has put too much emphasis on technology and not enough on the clients.

How can clients help marketers with innovation?

It’s important for clients to keep pushing the kind of work that they get from professional services firms. It’s easy for marketers to keep to the same routine of what they have done, but they sometimes struggle with change. If you don’t have clients that push you to innovate, it’s a disservice to you. Clients who consistently ask for more show that they believe that you’re able to grow with them as a company.


Innovation and storytelling for professional services firms can feel overwhelming, but you can take baby steps to get there. You implement innovation through small changes and over time you can encourage the people at your firm to change their behavior and how they think. 

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