How To Establish A Story Worth Telling

Originally published at

When you have spent the best part of 12 years playing AFL football in Australia, you develop a distinct appreciation for how a story might be told differently.

Both your own and others.

Because in football, as in life, we often don’t get to elect which stories about us become the 8-point headline.

Or to control the subsequent level of amplification such headlines might receive.

But with the benefit of hindsight you start to see that we can shape how others feel about us by hard work and humility.

The redemptive power of being real, transparent and treating others well.

Many small companies still struggle to fully comprehend how these rules might apply to them. And which part of what they offer as a business or service will most resonate with their potential audience. So they tend to overload their websites and social media with bucket loads of information, even though much of it will go largely unread.

Of course the source of much of this unnecessary content is that web designers are keen to please the people who pay their invoices. So they shape their advice so as never to offend the client and to increase billings. Building and adding more and more content and bells and whistles into the scope when a simple, real sentence could potentially throw the bigger punch.

For example imagine walking down a street and seeing this.

“Occasionally we make great sandwiches” chalked outside a café.

It draws you in immediately in a way that has little to do with rational logic.

Because, before anything, we respond to things as human beings and most of us have an antenna for the unvarnished truth of a single 5-word line. Can you imagine anyone who tried such a sandwich ever being particularly disappointed?

“Occasionally we open 10 minutes late as my obsessive wife is running overtime cleaning and re-cleaning our only guest bathroom.”

With this gem you don’t have to even know his wife’s name to know you are going to like her. Because she doesn’t open the front door of whatever business they happen to run before considering if the only bathroom is hospital clean and ready to go. It is this attention to detail that enables small businesses to sometimes outpace their larger competitors.

I recently meet a lovely man in his early sixties with a kind face. His personal grace made it that much easier to hand over the car keys and surrender whatever amount of money a engine transmission overhaul might cost.

Much as we might think Google search makes us all experts on everything, we will continue to rely on others for those rarest of things — real service and truth.

So here’s my truth.

Being an ex-AFL footballer gets me in the door, but hard work and humility gets me clients. I’d rather be the guy who thinks he’s not smart enough and reads three hours every night than the guy who is smug enough to think he need not read at all.

Which is why we will focus on brands and small businesses that are often poorly serviced by large agencies but nonetheless have interesting stories to tell.

I often think the best brands eventually are comfortable in their own skin. They eventually know what they are and, by definition, what they are not.

I’m smiling as I write this.

Troy Simmonds

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