We’ve been watching a programme on television called Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away. The programme follows a team of bailiffs, or ‘High Court Enforcement Officers’ as they visit people’s homes to collect debts.
It’s deeply addictive; you can’t help but watch what happens.
In one episode, the team visited a house on a council estate in Liverpool. At first, nobody appeared to be home. But just as the debtor’s car was about to be towed away, the debtor emerged from the house clutching an iron crowbar. After threatening the bailiffs, he smashed the windscreen of his own car.
(Yeah, because that’ll help with your debt problem!)
There are storytelling lessons in all this. The programme is laced with intrigue, and the threat of conflict. Conflict and intrigue go hand in hand if you want people to continue reading a story. Every ad break is preceded by an intriguing event. The boyfriend of the debtor shows up. Somebody tries to talk to the bailiffs through the letterbox.
Another thing that comes across is how well the bailiffs maintain control of every situation. They follow clear procedures, and never raise their voices. They’ll always try to negotiate or work with a debtor, rather than seize property.
When you’re marketing your business, your situation isn’t a whole lot different. You’re either in control of the conversation, guiding your audience down a particular path. Or you’re not in control, winging it as you go.
Most people pursue particular marketing tactics simply because they see other people having success with the same tactics. The better approach is to first identify what you want people to do next, at each point in the conversation.
I explain this in my book, The Marketing Nurture System. If you still need a copy, details are here. It’s in print and on Kindle.