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If you want to connect with customers and show the value of your products – share compelling stories. Sharing stories about sparing someone pain, overcoming adversity, or making good from bad, captivates your audience. There’s room to brag about your accomplishments, but if you want to capture someone’s attention, share the good AND the bad.

What Makes Others Want What You Have?

While traveling this month, I read a couple books about… traveling. These weren’t guidebooks or travelogues – they were personal experiences. First, I read Bill Bryson’s 1998 book, “A Walk in the Woods,” about hiking the Appalachian trail, then John Steinbeck’s, “Travels with Charley” – a log written in 1961, recapping his time crossing America in a truck with his dog. Both books shared harrowing mishaps and every possible danger, from Steinbeck beginning his trip by nearly drowning in a hurricane, to Bryson suffering exposure on Mt. Washington. Bryson begins his book sharing, “The woods are full of perils – from rattlesnakes and water moccasins and nests of copperheads; bobcats, bears, coyotes, wolves, and wild boar…” Neither author held back in their descriptions of the difficulties they encountered, but despite their travails, I wanted to join them. What did they do to make me want to risk my sanity, health, and happiness to pursue a similar adventure? They told both sides of the story and the truth was compelling.

What Story Can You Share?

One of the keys to both books – besides the authors being darn good yarn spinners – is they spoke the truth in all its ugliness. Had I read some upbeat everything-is-perfect travel guide, would I have been moved to want what Bill and John had? I don’t think so. It was exactly because they talked about the down and dirty that made the moments of beauty exquisite. They didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear – they told me the truth, and in telling the truth, they led me to understand how they were impacted. They talked about obstacles overcame, hidden treasures, and how they were changed by them. I wanted what they had.

Begin With the Truth

Do you think anyone totally believes collateral materials that only talk about how great everything is? When you look at similarly written brochures… do you buy into them? What about salespeople who only tell you what they think you want to hear? Rather than wax poetic about how wonderful everything is, why not share a case study based on solving a problem or an obstacle you overcame – how you handled a nest of copperheads?

Life isn’t perfect and neither are you. Which is more compelling, a company that only shares perfection, or one that shares challenges and how they were handled? Whether you’re face-to-face, on social media, or writing marketing content, let your customer know what obstacles you face together, where the hidden treasures are to be found, and how it will change them for the better. Tell your story from the beginning, not the end. Are you a story teller? What’s your story?

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