TV Guide named Seinfeld the greatest television program of all time. Not bad for a “show about nothing” as it was originally pitched to NBC by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David and later self-parodied as such in an actual episode.
While the show focused on the minutiae of everyday life, its popularity was driven by our ability to relate to and like the key characters. They seemed believable, real and hilarious. We knew someone like them and even sometimes admitted our own quirks were similar.
Reality TV changed the game and continues to make an impact. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media vehicles have touched millions. Customer reviews on Amazon changed our shopping process and product placement in TV shows and movies has grown.
Each of these success stories offer evidence that we are interested in the real or somewhat real story.
When we try to communicate our message or convince others to buy ideas, products or services, why not focus on the real stuff that makes us unique? Too often people think the real story is really nothing and thus embellish things. Or they go on and on without making one strong point or leaving a key takeaway. And, listening to the customer is something most people say they do but don’t do well.
Take the time to figure out what your real story is. Why is it relevant to members of your target markets? What will help them relate? Why should they care?
Then draft your message in simple, memorable terms. Break it down to a basic, core theme—What’s in it for them? Clarity and brevity are essential.
Once you’ve developed your real story, tell it again and again. Use memorable anecdotes, ask questions and listen. Respond by matching the needs expressed with the results your idea, product or service will provide. Or as Kramer’s lawyer, Jackie Chiles, might rhyme: “Help them relate but don’t exaggerate.”
Focus on Less and More: Less talking, more listening, more real stuff. And remember that it’s not a story about nothing. It’s a story about how you can meet their needs.
David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.