Have you ever known anyone who triumphed over extraordinary circumstances? Sure, we all have.
- Seven years ago, doctors told my youngest sister she had four months to live. She proved them wrong by fighting back hard – and today she’s back on the stage, pursuing her theatre career with a vengeance (doing four shows per year).
- In Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, Lou Gerstner recalls a time when his company was hemoraging cash, so dramatically that bankruptcy was imminent (his turnaround plan brought IBM back, even breaking its pervious performance records).
- When a couple of 18-year-olds (Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning) launched a publically available mp3 file sharing platform, it was shut down by court order (but re-emerged to re-define an entire industry).
As marketers your stories may be as dramatic as this, but you have some good ones. Stories of customers who conquered the impact of a tough situation – with solutions that you provided. Yes, you were the shining knight on the white horse. Perhaps you helped save a business, or brought a product back from the dead, or maybe you impacted a decision that sent a campaign into the stratosphere.
Whether a story features an aspiring actor, the CEO of a global corporation or a kid in a dorm room, overcoming impact creates story drama. And as ordinary humans, we tend to remember those stories.
But as marketers, we tend to omit the impact part of our tales. That’s unfortunate, because without impact, there’s no urgency to act. Without impact, there’s no business case.
If the impact part of the story is this critical, why is it so often omitted? Because it’s hard work. Stories of how your solution mitigated (or exploited) quantifiable impact takes some effort. But it’s worth the dig. If you can cite real impact, you’ll join the pool of memorable stories, versus those that are forgotten as soon as they are told.
Your story doesn’t have to have a mind-blowing, game-changing impact. One of my favorites is from the Ford Motor Company – with stories of shoppers whose full hands impact their ability to open the darn trunk …
When shoppers approach their vehicle, they have their hands full, which is why the trunk of the Ford Focus opens with a simple wave of the foot — beneath the rear bumper.
Or this one from my older brother, who has stopped blaming his children for an impact that caused him to sacrifice his favorite toy…
My sportscar became impractical after we had the twins and I dreaded giving it up, but now that I have my Mercedes SUV I wonder why I waited so long to buy it. .
Or this one from a provider of perishable goods:
My bakers collectively throw out a ton of food each day, because they can’t anticipate buyer behavior. Now, with predictive analytics they know what to sell – and when - which has increased profits in our European stores by 20%.
Hopefully you’re observing a pattern in these stories, where negative impact – is crushed by the marketer’s solution. So before you launch into your product story, take a step back and consider your buyer’s situation – and the impact it is creating on things such as productivity, time-to-market, employee morale, or the bottom line.
The higher the impact, the better the business case. The better the business case, the higher the urgency to act.
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