If you sell to people over a long period of time, the highest goal of your marketing is to upgrade someone’s thinking about your topic.
As with all real learning, an upgrade in thinking can only happen with a degree of discomfort.
It’s a lot to ask for your audience to feel discomfort. It isn’t what we’re ‘meant’ to do as marketers. But some discomfort they must feel, or else you’ll never get your point across. You might entertain, but you’ll never challenge someone’s current thinking.
I was thinking about this the other night. Linzi was watching a documentary about the James Bulger murder, which happened just a few miles from where I grew up in 1993. I would have been seven at the time. Old enough to remember it, but not old enough to appreciate how horrific it was.
Two ten-year-old boys abducted a two-year-old from a shopping centre, while his mother was distracted in a butcher’s shop. They then dropped him on his head by a canal. Later on – after being stopped by two different people – they took him to cemetery, tortured and killed him, eventually leaving his body on a railway line to make it look like an accident.
There is actually more detail to the story, which I don’t even want to write about.
Do you feel uncomfortable yet? You should.
And let me tell you, I do. As the father of a one-year-old, it’s been haunting my brain for the last few days. Not least because geographically it was very close to home. However you try to get your head around it, you can’t.
The most important stories to tell aren’t usually the most comfortable, for you or the reader. The ‘hero’s journey’ doesn’t often happen in the real world. But there’s a much deeper well of empathy and understanding in a more challenging story, if you manage to tell it.
That’s something to consider.