Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story

How do you turn a great product or service in to a "cool" one? It is an age old problem … and we can often ask can you MAKE something cool or is there something about "coolness" that just IS? (I am happy for ANYONE to answer this question!)

Actually, it also strikes me that for something to be "cool" there is no prerequisite of quality. For example, I have owned cool motorbikes but they have been questionable on a number of other fronts — reliability, safety etc. But there is no doubt that they were cool. Harley Davidson is another great example in this space … they are difficult to handle, weigh a ton and (until fairly recently) have been plagued with reliability problems. But they stand triumphant at the pinnacle of cool.

What I love about Jeremy Gutsche’s ( presentation on Slideshare is the way that he unpacks "cool". He cites Rule #1 — Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story.

My thinking is that there is ONLY this one rule. This means — keeping the message simple, hitting hard with the title and capturing "cool" … making your story a "must tell". By way of example, Jeremy talks about a very expensive hamburger with two outcomes:

  • Good positioning — "the world’s most expensive hamburger"
  • Viral positioning — "the $5000 hamburger"

Of course, it is not so simple … as you can see from the presentation. There is a challenge that must be mounted at a number of levels. "Cool" places innovation at the centre of the product development lifecycle — and we all know how difficult true innovation can be to achieve. But STORY INNOVATION is a relatively cheap way to test and drive your market. You can start small and grow it. You can employ social media and cheap widgets to kick start your efforts. And you can do it from your bedroom or your home office. Sure you need a product … but that is just the beginning … the hard work comes at "storytime". And for that, all you need is your imagination.

Quick test — Look to the right of your computer screen. What is the first thing you see? Write FIVE WORDS describing the TREND that delivered this item into your life. Quick. Don’t think. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Time’s up.

Quick check — Do your five words capture the emotion and personal journey of the item? If so, great … you win the chance to guest blog here. Drop me an email and tell me your story!

2 thoughts on “Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story

  1. Hi,
    I liked your post. I agree that quality is no necessity for coolness. However, I do believe that knowing your customers to a level that no one else does make the difference. Use that knowledge to solve a problem one problem and do it so the solution is easy to use. That will create a cool product.
    The temptation will be to add features etc. to please all, but that should be avoided as it will dilute the coolness.
    It’s also important to understand that the definition of cool is defined by your target group. What’s Martha Stewart cool isn’t trendhunter’s. So, just because your not a trendhunter hit, doesn’t mean your product isn’t be cool.
    But, just having a cool product isn’t enough. Your target group has to know about it. That’s where the communication comes in. Again, the focus has to be on one message, targeted exactly at your audience. The target again is not to have your story everywhere (even though it would be nice to have), but to have your story seen by those who matter to you most.
    With all the products and stories out there, I guess more and more it’s either you’re cool or you’re irrelevant.

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