What game are we playing?

"Wait! Wait! Listen to mel ... We don't HAVE to be just sheep!" - The Far Side by Gary Larson

Welcome. We made it.

I’m supposed to sell something here. I’ve supposed to make a huge promise, then weaponise it with false scarcity, one-time special offers, tripwires, countdown clocks and all the grubby tactics of ‘digital conversion’.

But I’m not going to do that.

It’s like setting yourself on fire just because you’re cold.

It might make sense for a moment, but pretty soon we see what’s really burning. Credibility. Reputation. Trust.

All the things that elevate our business, message or personal brand.

The challenge – of course – is our evolutionary focus on short-term wins. Our brains were built to massively overweight the value of getting something right now.

That makes sense when we are starving, but it won’t feed us next week, next month or next year.

Stress-based marketing is no different. It seeks to leverage the maximum pressure, drive the maximum sales and make the maximum return right now.

And it works.

We’ve all fallen victim to those tactics. Scarcity. Deadlines. Special offers (that will NEVER be repeated.)

Then … astoundingly, they find a few more slots to fill, extend the deadlines and repeat the one-time offers for the next herd of prospects they come across.

And that’s the key of course. If you work this way, you need to keep loading the top of the funnel with people you haven’t burned yet.

It’s a business, but it’s not the kind of business I’ve ever wanted to build.

And anyway, the past 25 years have taught me something that the stress marketing gurus all ignore.

We make way more money when we have happy, long-term customers.

Not bullied. Not harassed. Not tricked or scared or stressed out.

But seen, served and respected.

A relationship that puts conversation above conversion and storytelling above sales.

Because happy customers do two things that stressed customers rarely do – they come back and they spread the word.

Conversation and storytelling. That’s how I built my first business, a digital agency with clients around the world. That’s how I’ve built this one … Stories Mean Business.

A conversation like the one we are having right now. Storytelling, like the story I’m telling right now … a story about playing a different kind of game.

It’s not for everyone of course, and that’s okay. When we are starving, it’s right to focus on the short term. If that’s the case, please go eat.

But what if we aren’t starving? What if we are looking to build our long-term business, reputation or influence?

What if we are tired of setting ourselves on fire?

Then, it’s time to consider a different kind of game.

Start A Different Game

My work is dedicated to the power of storytelling in business. Explore this site and you’ll find me practising what I preach, telling stories, starting conversations and delivering value.

The content includes tools and tactics, strategy, science and insight.

But that’s not where this game began.

Because the foundation of long-term businesses and brands comes from one place, the seed that unleashes all the potential.

The Origin Story

In a few lines, the origin story positions us, our credibility and our unique value. It builds attention, connection and trust.

Done well, it is the core of our value proposition, the ‘why’ behind our work and the foundation for a true mythology. Think about great leaders, businesses and brands … they live, tell and inspire better stories.

They become mythic figures.

And the origin story is the tip of the tip of the sphere because everyone heads open. Sometimes it takes a little teasing out, but we are all here for a reason. For each of us, there was a moment.

The challenge is crafting that story. As my podcast guest, Seth Godin would say, it’s hard, emotional work.

Which is why the path divides ahead of us.

It’s time to choose an adventure…

The Origin Story course is based on the process I use with private clients. Over seven days we structure and craft a story that resonates.

If you are ready to start playing a different kind of game, that’s the path that lies ahead.

 Continue to The Origin Story Course

Or … take a different path. Here are some things worth exploring:

Lastly, if you are time-poor, consider working directly with me on story or content.


P.S. Of course the cartoon is from Gary Larson’s genius series, The Far Side. The conversion gurus would tell me not to link to it from this page in case you get distracted, but seriously, how dumb is that advice? Go ahead. Get distracted by The Far Side. I’ll be here when you get back.