Remember that story? The one that sounded like every other story you’ve ever read? Yeah, me neither.
Generic doesn’t get mental space. It’s like candyfloss – gone and forgotten in seconds but you’re still hungry. So how to elevate your writing to a place that’s more than fairground candy?
Unexpectedly, the answer comes from the Silver Screen.
My mama is a die-hard crime junkie. For real. I am completely confident that if I ever get murdered she be on it like white-on-rice and the police will not know what’s hit them. Not that I’m planning on being murdered ya know, but still it’s comforting to know my mama’s got my back. Mess with me you, mess with my mama. We’re Italian don’t you know. You have been warned.
Anyhoo…there’s not a detective novel she hasn’t read or a show she hasn’t watched. (as I type she has Murder She Wrote, NCIS and Rizzoli & Isles cued up and ready to play). Cute, Amy but what the fishsticks does this have to do with business?
A ton, as it happens.
Because, as Mama Biondini would say, there are only so many ways you can murder someone (at least in 45 mins with ad breaks).
So? It’s all been done before.
And because we are all naturally drawn to similar types of programmes we’ve all seem the same stuff in different places. And yet, we all have our favourites. Our “love-it-so-much-I’ve-got-watch-instantly”. Our have to have it on DVD (and Netflix).
Whether or not the Butler did it isn’t the point. We don’t watch for the murder (I hope). We watch for the story. The relationships. How did the butler do it? Why? How does the team work together to get justice? What challenges have to be overcome for good to win? And most importantly what’s the latest in the lives of our heroes/heroines? Who kissed who? Who’s been dumped? Is X still talking to Y after THAT thing? The Butler? Sorry, babe, but the Butler is not the point. Never was. It’s the hook. The promise. The get the juices excited, get people talking about it. BUT it’s not why people keep watching.
Strip away the precinct and people would still watch.
People are fascinated by people.
We connect to people, to their stories.
So yeah Police drama’s do well, so do hospital ones, prison ones, political ones, out-of-space ones, school ones and historical ones. You feeling me? Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
It’s not the “thing” it’s the connection to the characters.
It’s that we like them, know them, trust them (sound familiar). We connect to and invest in them. So we keep watching. And they become part of our story too. And the fact that the latest murder seems kinda familiar is besides the point.
Because these people, are our people. We are in it with them rootin’ for them.
Back to Mama. Die-hard crime junkie? Defo. But that doesn’t mean she watches everything. She might watch the first one (or at least until the first commercial break) but to keep her coming back it’s got to connect with her on a level beyond the murder. It’s got to make her care enough to come back. And what makes my mama care is different than makes another crime junkie care. It’s also why we watch reality shows. We are indulging our need to connect to and find people like us (or people we want to be like) through tv. And we do this with more than just tv, we do it everywhere.
What does this teach us?
It’s never about the thing.
Ever. If you make it about the thing, you make it generic and you turn your awesome thing into a commodity.
Think about it, there are more than 2 brands of cola in the world but people will tell you if they are Team Coca-Cola or Team Pepsi. Because that means something to us. The Coca Cola brand means something. The Pepsi story connects. Yes, there is the taste and the quality but in this day and age those things are expected.
The truth is. It has been done before. But not by you.
It’s your flavour, that adds depth and attracts your people to connect to you. It’s who you are, that allows people to hear what you’ve just said (even though they’ve technically heard it a few times before).
It’s not the message, it’s not what you are selling. It’s you.
You make the difference. And if you edit yourself out of your writing and out of your business, no one will be able to hear you.
Because whilst you see professional and just like the template said. Your people? The ones you desperately want to help? Yeah, them. They just see the internet equivalent of beige wallpaper. In a warehouse full of beige wallpaper. Even if they click through to your stuff, they’ll click away. Why? Because you can get beige anywhere.
What to do?
Look beyond the thing. Look at how it becomes a part of your clients’ lives.
- How does it touch them?
- How does your story weave into theirs?
- How does your thing make their life easier?
- Where can you add in some more you?