If you’ve been around here long enough, you know we’re big advocates of using stories in your marketing. One piece of storytelling that is underutilized is talking about failure – AKA the failure your customer could experience if they don’t work with you. If you’re going to fully commit to storytelling in marketing, you have to use this piece of the process. Here’s a little about how and why…

Your prospective clients have to know what’s at stake when considering working with you. By knowing what’s at stake, they’ll feel more urgency to take action.

To remind them what’s at stake, we need to occasionally mention what failure they might experience if they don’t work with you. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. If my client tries to find a solution on their own, what might they experience?
  2. If my client uses a competitor, what might they face?
  3. If my client gives up on finding a solution, what are the repercussions?

As you explore those questions, you’ll most likely get a variety of answers – some may reflect drastic consequences while others may be brief inconveniences. Here are a couple of principles to keep in mind as you start talking about failure in your marketing:

  1. Keep it short-term and avoid the long-term. It’s far too doom-and-gloom to say, “If you don’t use my marketing services, you’ll struggle to get new leads which means you won’t get new clients and won’t be able to pay the bills and your business will close and you’ll lose your house.” Long-term and exaggerated consequences will turn your clients off to your services. There’s no room for fear-mongering in ethical marketing. Instead, keep your failures to short-term failures like, “If you don’t use our marketing services, you’ll waste your time trying to do it yourself.” 
  2. Failure should be used like pepper, not salt. Sprinkle references to the failure in your copy but don’t focus on it. Success is more likely to motivate your audiences; failure is just a tool to create that urgency and make success even more attractive.

A lot of business owners are hesitant to talk about failure because they don’t want to be perceived as negative or weak. Me too! But if we have our clients’ best interests in mind, we need to commit ourselves to show them the truth about what’s at stake.


About the author:

Julia Block is the CEO of Stratos Creative Marketing, helping business owners make sure their marketing strategies all work together to produce results and revenue.

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