In the 1950s and 60s television show Dragnet, actor Jack Webb played Sergeant Joe Friday, a no-nonsense police officer. His machine-gun style of questioning witnesses and suspects often elicited stories. Joe cut them short; “Just the facts, ma’am,” is a line attributed to his character. The last thing Joe wanted was stories.
Marketing is different. Hit your clients with “just the facts,” and those facts may fall on deaf ears. The story is the star; the facts play a supporting role. Joe Friday might not approve, but your bottom line will.
In his book, Tell to Win, author and famed film producer, Peter Guber, recounts numerous examples of how stories won clients and projects. Guber is a movie-maker; he understands the importance of story: wrapping his facts in a narrative that draws the listener in. Guber describes one experience of throwing around data to try and sell a Vegas exec on a minor league baseball team – an approach that failed. Other accounts communicate how the power of story – replete with heroes, villains and challenging circumstances — persuades and converts.
Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based marketing, branding, social media and content marketing consultant. Click to find out more about Martha Spelman. If you don’t subscribe already, please sign up for Martha’s Blog: Marketing Musings and Tips du Jour. You can reach Martha directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.670.5300.