If you’ve been following the soap opera saga of British royalty Harry and Meghan, you know they generated some explosive content. Apparently, they were surprised at the reaction of their many readers and listeners.
You’re not royalty and you’re not famous (except maybe within your niche). You think you know how to talk to your followers.
So you tell a great story and … ouch! It didn’t go the way you expected.
Maybe they departed your list in droves. Or they didn’t laugh. Or they seemed shocked into silence.
Any business owner – or anyone who shares a story – can get reactions they totally didn’t expect.
One way I work with clients is to plan stories so this won’t happen.
Here are 3 reasons why your audience might be surprised (and 3 steps you can take to avoid this outcome):
1 – They’re seeing (or hearing) your story in an unexpected setting.
Psychologists use the term “noise” to describe anything that interferes with transmission of a message. Noise can be loud sounds, of course, but it can also refer to visual disturbances, such as poor lighting.
When you send out a message with a clever subject line, your readers see an email in their inbox with several others. You may have a clever, original line. But even the most original ideas may turn out to have copies and imitators.
One day my email inbox contained not one but THREE different messages with the word “unsexy” in the subject line. The topics were completely different…unsexy ways to get more clients, unsexy ways to write an email, and…well, you name it.
Each sender expected me to respond to the word “unsexy” with curiosity or even a wry smile. Alas, my thought was, “Oh no…another one!”
The best way to avoid this response is to avoid cleverness in favor of straightforward, value-driven content. Focus on the message rather than the style and above all, avoid anything that might remotely be considered “cute.”
2 – You’re too close to the story.
When you’re excited about a story, you don’t look for flaws and falsehoods. When you expose your story to the light of day for the first time, you may be shocked at the reaction you get.
“I didn’t see it that way,” is a common comment.
This seems to be the reason the Harry & Meghan story exploded.
3 – You didn’t manage expectations.
How do you want your audience to see you? What marketing style will you choose?
The best way to manage innovations is to identify your story archetype – the foundation of your marketing – and remain consistent with all your content creation. If you’re not familiar with the story archetype framework, you can download a free report here.
If you’re an Innovator, your promise is, “I have a solution to that problem you’ve been desperately trying to solve…and I’m the only one who’s got it.” You tell stories about the way your innovation helped real people.
If you suddenly decide to share a story about your emotional life or your checkered past, your audience will feel like they’ve been hit by a flying object.
If you’re a Role Model, your audience expects to hear personal stories – your promise is “If I can do it, you can too.” They won’t expect a story about how your exotic vacation. They won’t react positively if you apply strong language to show you’re “out there.” They won’t expect an email completely devoid of reference to you and your own work.
What are some stories you’ve told that drew a surprise reaction? What would you do differently?
I go into a little more depth on this topic in Episode #91 of the Strategic Storytelling podcast.