When writing for strategic influence, whether your outcome is intended to be the sale of a product or service, the adoption of an idea, or a certain outcome for your political candidate, you must begin with knowing your mythology.
No, I'm not talking about ancient Greece. When I say “mythology”, I'm referring to “story”.
I believe great marketing-and thus, great influence-starts with great stories. I'm not alone in this thought.
Seth Godin writes in his book All Marketers Are Storytellers, “Either you're going to tell stories that spread, or you will become irrelevant.”
All the ground-shaking movements in history started with great stories. Our ancestors sat around the hearth and told stories that transmitted their values, their ideas, their wisdom and faith.
Jesus taught primarily through the telling of stories.
John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King all told stories that moved people to take action. You don't have to agree with the ideologies of any of these people, by the way, to get the benefit of what I'm saying. All I'm attempting to do is point out the power of the story as a form of persuasion.
It's important to understand that the story must be true. Telling lies simply won't work, not to mention the fact that it's wrong.
Before you begin your next writing project, whether it's the book you're working on, the sales material for your website, or the next speech you're giving, become aware of the stories you're telling (or the ones you're not telling that you should be). Here are some qualities your stories (or mythology) should possess:
- The stories you tell must, first of all, be true.
- They must be told in the service of others. The goal of your story should be to impart something to hearer, not to manipulate them.
- Your stories should appeal to emotion. No matter what people tell you, they buy your ideas, your products, and your services based on emotion-not based on logic.
- Your stories should be told quickly, and in an entertaining fashion. In today's world, people have limited patience for long-winded stories.
- Don't hit them over the head. The more subtle your story, the less overtly self-serving, the more you allow your reader to come to their own conclusions… the better.
So, what stories are you telling? Are they the right ones? How do you know?
Something to think about.