Using “Struggle” in Training and Marketing

Finding a “Struggle”

About five years ago, I was editing my first “docu-reality” TV show and encountered a very tangible example of the value of “struggle” in telling a story. The producers had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on camera equipment and sending crews all over the country to capture stories about singer-songwriters, but when it came down to it, the most compelling story was captured on a cell phone, unplanned and never anticipated.

One of the show’s producer was travelling with an artist and the crew already at the venue when the artist’s car broke down… an hour out of the city. The performance was supposed to start in just under two hours. Added to this was the goals and hopes that the artist wanted to gain from this performance. The producer pulled out her cell phone and started recording a real-life “struggle.”
broken down car

This brought the value of “struggle” and “time” to the forefront of my creative toolset. In all of the hundreds of hours of footage we had captured previously, only now had we captured something where there was a real struggle.  Before this, there was no emotional connection for the viewer to the story.

This “car trouble” struggle was amplified by the reality that there was not an open-ended amount of time to resolve the struggle. Within an easily measurable and forseeable timeframe, the outcome would be known one way or another.

Struggle in Training

When I think of this in regards to business training videos, I’ve observed how sometimes there is a temptation to only present the solution. Sometimes it feels more efficient to present a refined process without reference to the “struggle” behind the story.

In the same way that I connected with the struggle in the story of the car breaking down, employees are more prone to connect emotionally with processes when they understand the struggle that created the processes. Maybe even more important, they tend to remember and act on them more easily.  Lastly, understanding some or all of the struggle tends to remove the tendency to feel condescended to or lorded over. When an employee understands the struggle behind a process, they have their own piece of ownership… i.e. “buy-in” is achieved.

Struggle in Marketing

The same goes for marketing. When “struggle” is perceived by a potential buyer or existing client, the emotional connection goes up quickly and it takes “value” along with it.

Struggling Yogurt

Here’s a quick example.  My family loves frozen yogurt and we visit a store near our house at least once a week. I got to know the owner over time and one day he explained that he was a mechanical engineer and over the past several years had devised a way to make his yogurt “creamier.” This was already our favorite store for other reasons. It was always clean and the toppings looked nice and neat. Once he explained this to me, I began to notice the difference when we would visit other stores and my emotional connection and value skyrocketed. I could clearly perceive the struggle and the win that was achieved.  When I compared his yogurt store to others, the perception of value contained a stark contrast.

Take struggle for a spin!

Struggle is a part of all of our favorite stories and movies. Consider taking a look around and see where it is or could be in some of your training and marketing. It’s a valuable resource that wins every time.

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