Imagine you are clinically obese and your doctor has urged you to change your lifestyle. So you’ve vowed to find a personal trainer and get started.
One personal trainer says, “It’s time you wake up and face reality — you’re fat and going to die if you don’t lose that weight. My 10-week program will save your life like it’s saved the lives of thousands of others. Get started today.”
A second personal trainer says, “You deserve to live a happy, healthy life, because your family needs you. But you need to address your health in safe, smart ways. That’s why we do what we do — we love helping amazing people like you thrive.”
Both trainers are telling you the exact same narrative: “I help people like you lose weight.” But each is telling you a different story. One challenges you. The other encourages you. One tells you what to do. The other invites you in.
Do you see the difference?
Which personal trainer would you choose?
Some say that if you want to get prospects’ attention, go negative. Threaten their security. Scare them into paying attention.
I recently facilitated a strategy session in which some executives suggested their company “be more provocative” in order to get attention with its marketing. Which led to discussion about how they could reveal mistakes prospects were making that could sink their organization.
Sounds a lot like the first personal trainer, doesn’t it?
You and I market and sell in a very crowded, noisy marketplace. It’s incredibly difficult to break through the clutter, which can make gimmicks to get attention sound like something worth trying.
Think twice before going negative.
I believe — and I’ve seen good research that suggests — that aspirational narratives are more effective over the long-run than negative ones.
Design your stories to be personal, aspirational and participative.
- By personal I mean that they speak to “you” not “us” or third persons.
- By aspirational, I mean that your stories look forward to what can be, rather than simply dwell on what’s wrong today.
- And by participative, I mean that you invite your prospects into the story. After all, it’s ultimately their story, not yours.
Your clients (and you) deserve a story worth pursuing.