If you’re like me, you’d prefer that things just run smoothly.
That everything would just work the way it’s supposed to.
Perfectly understandable — at least for me.
But this begs the question: if that’s what we want from life, then why do we hunger for conflict in our entertainment?
Why, in short, do we demand DRAMA?
For instance, take the perfect game.
Whether it’s Football, Baseball, Soccer, Hockey, or whatever weird sport you prefer, we don’t really want a one-sided massacre from a match-up we go to see.
That’s not entertaining.
So no matter how much we imagine the joy of gloating about the 70-to-nothing beatdown our team gave their team, it’s not a game we’d actually watch.
In fact, it would be a game we’d leave at half-time. Or the second period or the 5th inning or whatever.
What we want — what would actually keep us in our seats, cheering, chanting, and praying our little hearts out — would be a game with plenty of reversals, last-minute reprieves, and a nail-biting, nick-of-time victory.
In short, we won’t stand for a walk-over. We need a conflict. A hard-won battle.
And it is the same with novels, movies, short stories, and TV shows. We need — in fact, we demand — conflict, tension, and drama.
So what does this have to do with advertising?
Your ads’ audience simply won’t believe a story without conflict — without some amount of sacrifice, loss, reversals, or lessons learned.
But most advertisers want nothing to do with that in ads they’re paying to put in front of customers.
They want the highlight real. The walkover. The no-brainer, “choose me, ‘cause it’s obvious” storyline.
You say you’ve got the best quality and the lowest prices and you always deliver perfect service? And you’ve been number one in your industry from day one with a perfect 5-star review score? Mirabile dictu!
Yeah… not buying it. No one’s buying it.
What they will “buy” is the idea that you had a painful lesson to learn in your past that put you on the path you’re on today.
They will believe that the person who once mattered most in your life set you on a mission that, despite the difficulties involved, you’ve been on ever since.
They’ll believe that your whole worldview (or professional understanding) got flipped upside down, ass-over-tea-kettle — and now you’re a forever changed business owner.
In short, they’ll believe conflict.
Better yet, they’ll believe you can help them with the conflict they’re experiencing.
Because a story without conflict offers nothing to learn from. Nothing to profit from.
Story is nothing less than a flight simulator for life, after all.
And life is never without conflict.
So what all of us want is a way to navigate that conflict to victory — however hard fought or narrowly won.
That’s what story is supposed to give us.
And if you think about it for half a second, your business exists to help people with a conflict of sorts in their own lives.
The reason customers come to you is precisely because things aren’t going as smoothly as they’d like.
Or because they foresee a future where there are significant bumps ahead.
They either have or anticipate having conflict and want help.
Whether it’s the conflicting need to get an eye-popping engagement ring without breaking the bank, or to fix a must-have central AC unit without getting taken for a ride, or to figure out how to deal with a parent’s failing health, there’s some part of your business that’s inherently dramatic in nature.
And no one wants help winning a gunfight from a guy who’s never been in one — or learned the hard lessons of how to win one.
Make sense? So what’s in your advertising? Are you telling the hard stories where conflict taught you a valuable lesson and shaped who you are today?
Or are you pitching conflict-free propaganda that no one believes and most people tune out of before half-time?
If it’s the latter, and you’d like to get help transforming your branding from an ad guy who’s learned lots of hard-fought victories…