The impact of college literature courses on the sales process

By Ben Bradley

When we engage with customers, we should think back to our college literature classes for inspiration.

All great stories include conflict. They include mistakes, weakness and a protagonist that changes and grows. The protagonist is the central character in a literary work. He/she is often in conflict with the bad guy or the antagonist.

You can’t have a good story without change, growth and conflict.

Story telling is the basis for building relationships. Sharing what you’ve learned, challenges you’ve faced, and the dragons you’ve slain helps communicate your story to customers.

The problem with most marketing stories? No change, growth or conflict.

At BWMG, the deals we walk away from are the ones where the client isn’t willing to open the kimono talk to customers or the media openly. Warts and all. Put yourself in the shoes of a journalist – a professional story teller. Now imagine your job is writing great stories with no change, growth or conflict. Where is the job satisfaction in that?

In talking to some of our favorite editors, we constantly hear that most press releases and marketing literature is far too focused on accentuating the positive and staying on message. Controlling the message. Too bad most controlled marketing messages and press releases get lost in a sea of sameness and “me too” messages.

So what is the risk of talking about warts and all?

This is a legitimate concern…especially for health care organizations, governments, financial institutions and other heavily regulated industries. That’s one reason we probably don’t have many banks or hospitals as clients.

But for everyone else, the risks are minimal.  The biggest risk is not talking about warts and all.

In fact, just like our favorite characters from college literature, the ones we remember are the ones with the best stories – the ones that overcame their shortcomings, grew, changed and became better protagonists. As marketers, we could learn a lot from our college professors.