What’s YOUR story?

Do you talk to panhandlers? How about the compulsory car-wash – you know, the guys at the corner who
swarm your car at red lights and “wash” (actually, smear) your windshield?

The panhandler and the compulsory car-wash guy are both
interruption marketers. They spring out
at you as you pass by, simply because you’re in their orbit. I bet you enjoy those interruptions, don’t
you? You’re really anxious to listen to
these guys make their pitch, aren’t you?

How about someone you meet at a conference, or a cocktail
party? Do you talk to them? Of course you do. There’s context there, some shared story,
even if it’s just the answer to “how did you end up here?”

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between interruption
marketing (the old-school ad game: “New and Improved!”, “Prices Slashed!”, “Psst! Look! Over Here!”) and permission marketing (agreeing to listen to a story – a
product message – because you have something in common with the story-teller).

Marketing used to be all about the interruption. Just getting the prospect’s attention was
enough to start the sales process. In
today’s ad-clogged marketplace, the customer is exhausted by all the
interruptions, and has gone deaf and blind to blandishments like “New and
Improved!” In fact, a marketing message
containing that phrase will likely end up in the spam folder or the trash can. As will most marketing messages that aren’t
specifically asked for by the customer.

OK, I can hear you saying “and just how in blue blazes am I supposed
to do THAT, Casey?”

You tell a really great story, that’s how.

In Seth Godin’s terrific book “Permission Marketing”, he
uses dating as a metaphor for permission marketing. You can dude yourself up and hit a singles
bar, proposing marriage to every person in the place, and you’ll certainly
accomplish something – perhaps getting thrown out on your ass, or being
arrested for harassment. Or, you can ask
one person out on a date, and if it goes well, you can ask them out again –
they’ve given you permission to move ahead with the relationship.

I’ve never been out on a date yet (and I’ve been on LOTS of
dates, trust me!) where story-telling wasn’t a key factor in whether or not
there was another date. Same holds true
for marketing a product or service – you have a great story that draws the
person you’re telling it to in, making them wish they were there? The story is selling them on you and what you
have to offer.

What’s YOUR story? Your signature story, that says why you do what you do and why you’re so
good at it? You need one that’s
authentic, that’s truly yours, and that…well, tells your story.

In today’s you-gotta-get-permission marketplace, no story
will mean no business. So – complete this
sentence: “Once upon a time….”



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