The Power of a Compelling Story

What does it take to ignite a wildfire? If you remember Smokey Bear, you know the answer is one little match. Add a light breeze and before you know it, a spark turns into an inferno.

That’s the same effect that content marketers seek when writing materials for the web. In fact, anyone with a message to spread hopes their story will light a fire. They dream of inspiring passionate advocates to share through word of mouth, social media, and major news outlets.

In reality, most messages aren’t received with such a welcoming embrace. But sometimes, conditions are just right and a compelling story takes hold. When this happens, the message is likely much more than a stale corporate communication. The successful story touches a deeply personal, emotional chord. Those that hear it feel transformed, usually for the better, and inspired to take action.

That’s what happened earlier this week when I read a story from Jill Konrath. Maybe you haven’t heard of her, but I’ve been following Jill for a while. As an expert in sales training, she shares practical advice on connecting with prospects in a an approachable, down to earth way.

Like many authors and consultants, she blogs, tweets and does all kinds of things to spread the word about her expertise in sales strategies. I see her frequently on webinars with companies like HubSpot and quoted on sites like RainToday as her digital reach grows.

While I enjoy  Jill’s messages, none have stopped me in my tracks like her personal story, which I first saw in an email titled “This is the most important blog post I’ve ever written.” How could I not open that email?

Come to find out, Jill’s story is not about sales at all. It’s a deeply personal message, a must-read in my opinion, about how technology can disrupt lives.


Based on current counts on her blog, it looks like Jill’s story has been shared over 4,000 times. Probably more, if you count the times people like me handed over their phone or tablet to a friend or loved one saying, “You need to read this.”

I’m sure Jill didn’t share this story to increase her visibility. On the contrary, she was able to use her online presence to help others, telling a true and cautionary tale that just might save a life.

The power of social platforms extends well beyond their ability to help us drum up business. People use social media because they appreciate community. They want to connect in meaningful ways that enrich their lives, and those of others.

That doesn’t mean all social sharing needs to be personal. People want to expand their horizons and grow professionally as well. The secret to a message that spreads is finding the underlying appeal, whatever the topic.

What’s the value behind your story? How will telling it, or sharing it, change people? Will they be better off for reading it, or will they wish they had those minutes back?

When you  share a story that taps into human desires, ambitions, fears or passions, people will share it. They will feel compelled to tell someone, anyone, everyone, about the important message they just heard.

Whether you use video, a blog, social media or even traditional channels to communicate (maybe even all of these), make your message matter.

P.S. I encourage you to take a moment to read Jill’s story, it could save your life.

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