Two days ago, I read a fascinating article on Telegraph.co.uk. That’s not too surprising – given that The Telegraph is typically a good source of interesting stories – and would usually not motivate me to write an entry since I visit the website a few times a week. But reading the article actually incented me to make an impulse purchase, which is rare for me. I surprised myself in this decision, not only because the story was able to work its way through all of the noise of my daily media consumption, but mostly because the purchase was an item that I had heard nothing about and one that was only available in the U.K.
The article, posted in the Arts section of the website, was an excerpt from my eventual purchase, a book titled The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness and written by Mark Rowlands. The story is about Rowlands’ decision to buy a wolf cub and how that decision changed the way he approached life (note: reading the article yourself will give you a far better synopsis than I could ever give here). After finding the story late Wednesday night, I was still thinking about it after I woke up and headed off to work on Thursday. I did some research and discovered that the book would not be available in the U.S. until April 2009. For many books, that would be the end. I’d forget all about it, April would come and go, and I would have moved on. But something stuck with me. So, a few dozen keystrokes later (including finding out the currency exchange rate), I had bought the book for £10 and paid £7 more to have it shipped from Amazon.co.uk.
Cutting through the noise is important. It has always been important. And as more and more people consume more and more media delivered by more and more sources, it will become … wait for it … more and more important. A good story is a great way to differentiate yourself from everything else that’s out there. Make sure you carefully craft your narrative and give people a reason to tune in. Whether you’re writing a blog, broadcasting on a radio station, selling widgets to people in Philadelphia, or trying to get your band signed to a record contract, you need to have a story. When you give people a real, emotional reason to tune in to what you’re saying, they not only hear your message, they also listen to it. My book is making its way across the Atlantic now and I’ll keep you updated with my thoughts on the complete story once I receive it and start reading. For now, re-examine your own story. Add color, texture, and layers of detail so the message is vivid and motivates people take action. Listening is crucial for success, and if you can get people to listen, you might have to start shipping your products across the Atlantic.