Monday, March 17, 2008

In the beginning …

Pretty compelling lead for a story, wouldn’t you say? Has that air of authority to say the least. Maybe that’s part of the reason the story has lasted so long and why it still has so much pull on so many people.

More than enough has been said and written and powerpointed over the last several years about the power of story. But here’s the thing: There’s always more than one story. In this competitive environment marketing principles dictate that you need to define the narrative that serves your objective and tells your story.

Over and over, probably.

Marketers call that preferred narrative positioning. Time has shown that it’s a solid approach to communicating with your audience. Still, by its very nature, positioning implies more of a monologue than a dialogue. While your position may be what you reallyreally want people to think or feel or even know about your organization, brand, product, store, Web site, city … whatever … there is always another version of the story. Often, there are as many versions of the story as there are people telling it.

These competing narratives define what becomes the truth. Is it fact? That really doesn’t matter to the communicator because ultimately whatever people choose to believe is their truth.

Which brings us to the title of this wee small exit on the Information Superhighway. Think about a pit bull terrier.

Now, think about a Labrador retriever.

Devotees of either breed will tell you remarkably similar things about them: loyal, friendly, energetic …

Those are competing narratives for the two varieties of dog.

Now which one is dominant?

What we call the Dominant Narrative is the version of the story that – ultimately – defines how anything is perceived. It’s the lens through which any and all new information is viewed. It’s why Lab attacks don’t make the news and why pit bull attacks do.

One fits the Dominant Narrative.

One is “Dog Bites Man.”

The other is “Pit Bull Mauls!”

Fair or not, fact or not, it doesn’t matter. For those who believe it, it’s true.

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