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43. Make Your Stories Believable

43. Make Your Stories Believable

“A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.” –Seth Godin

Let’s take one more page from Seth Godin’s book. This is a quote from “How to tell a great story,” an essay he wrote for Ode Magazine. It’s well worth reading for marketers trying to spin better yarns.

Stories don’t need to be true, not exactly. If you’ve ever heard about that time your buddy went fishing and then caught that 150 pound Marlin with nothing but a Fisher Price “my first fishing rod” and his teeth, then you should be clear on that. A story doesn’t need to be true, but in order for it to be good – it needs to be believable.

To teach anyone a lesson, or sell someone on a product, your story needs to make sense. The more people can relate to it, the easier it is for them to pick it up and spread it. The more inconsistent and nonsensical the story is, the more likely your audience is to ignore it.

That doesn’t mean that your story has to flow logically, the popularity of shows like Family Guy prove that people don’t really care about logic, what they care about is internal consistency. Your world should follow its own rules. If you have a race of all-knowing, all-powerful psychic swine roaming your streets, your hero shouldn’t be able to sing subversive, anti-swine show tunes behind them without them noticing.

P.S. if your hero is singing anti-swine show tunes, your story might have a few more problems than believability, or it might just be incredibly awesome.

P.P.S Someone really needs to leave a video comment of them singing an anti-swine show tune…I’m just saying.

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