Well, it’s been a week where “truth” has been elusive.
Now, before the pitchforks come out, let’s put current politics aside. I’m not referring to what’s being said in the media. Rather, the elusiveness seems to be in the actual definition of truth. “What is truth?” is an exceedingly tricky question.
As marketers and content practitioners, we are not in the business of facts. Marketers should be in the business of truth. We tell stories. We are there to illuminate a greater truth.
But, there are two sides to that truth – light and dark. The light is when we use facts to help bend, shape, or shine a new light on something either undiscovered, or unrealized. The dark is of course when we ignore reality to convince ourselves, and others, of our own selfish desires.
The dark side is not reality – but what should be real. As Tennessee Williams so wonderfully put it through the voice of Blanche DuBois:
“I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be true.”
(Helpful safety tip: Drinking Red Bull doesn’t actually give you wings.)
Of course, that belief in what ought to be true turns out to be Blanche’s tragic flaw. Her absolute belief in things that aren’t real doom her to a complete breakdown and her dependence on the kindness of strangers as doctors take her to a mental hospital.
Perhaps in an unconscious nod to Blanche, Seth Godin wrote in the very first line of his 2009 book All Marketers Are Liars (which he subsequently renamed All Marketers Tell Stories): “You believe things that aren’t true. Let me say that a different way: Many things that are true are true because you believe them.”
Both light and dark beliefs make up Our Truth (capitalization intended).
Our Truth is then shaped by our deepening trust in what we see in our reality.
Trust. This is what gives us as marketers, as storytellers, as content practitioners, both power and responsibility. We shape the beliefs of our customers. We have the ability to use it to create both light and dark beliefs that will end up being truth for people.
As Seth Godin concluded in the preface to All Marketers Are Liars:
“…marketers must forsake any attempt to communicate nothing but the facts and must instead focus on what people believe and then work to tell them stories that add to their worldview.”
That last bit is so very important. What’s the worldview to which you are adding? Are you trying to change it? Or, are you trying to confirm or add to it?
And it comes down to something even more fundamental. What do you believe? What does your brand believe? Is it a dark belief, not based in fact? Or, is your belief an as yet unilluminated light, waiting to help, inspire, entertain, or educate?
We have the ability to create trust with an audience. That’s the truth. The only question that remains is trust in what?
It’s your story. Tell it well.