Are we playing the wrong role in our stories?

Hero2 Think back to the days when you played pretend.  Given a choice between safety pinning the towel around your neck or being the damsel/dane in distress about to be rescued, who did you pick?

I don’t know about you, but I was all about being the "Toweled Crusader!"  (I never wore the rubber gloves, I must admit!) It was much cooler being the smart, strong, resourceful one.  Wasn’t it?

It still is today.

I’ve talked a lot (and will keep doing so) about the power of storytelling.  One of the ways that many of us tell our stories is through case studies and testimonials.  Most often, because we want to demonstrate our capabilities, we assume the leading role.  Client X was struggling with Y, but we swooped in with Insight Z and their sales tripled.

Sound familiar?  Basic story construction, right?  We have a hero, a problem/villain, a victim and a glorious solution. 

Uh oh.  If we’re the hero, guess who we’re casting in the role of victim?  Yup. Our client.

Remember that the goal of the case study or testimonial is to get prospects to identify with the clients in the story.  "Wow, if they can solve that problem, they can probably tackle mine too," is what we want them to think.

While the prospect might identify with the challenge and be heartened by the solution, do they really want to see themselves in the victim role?

If we gave them the same choice we had as kids, would they opt for hero or victim?

What if we twisted our tale in those case studies or testimonials, so that our clients were the heroes?  We shift to being the glorious solution.  (Not a bad role to play) But we give the credit, spotlight and heroine’s role to the client.  They are smart enough to see the problem and devise a solution.  And, in the end, everyone lives happily ever after.

Perhaps it’s time to re-write the stories.

* This post was inspired by a chapter in Harry Beckwith’s You, Inc.  I am telling you — you’ve got to read it!

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