Let’s Make Up A Story

“As a writer, I’m more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.”

— Kazuo Ishiguro

I had a lawyer tell me once that there are three sides to every story: the plaintiff’s story, the respondent’s  story, and what actually happened. 

You customers and followers are similarly living a triple life: the experience you want them to have, the experience they think they are having, and what is actually happening.

You are entirely responsible for the experience you want them to have, and it’s your job to engineer that experience. 

Now here’s the hard part: It is also your job to address the experience your customers and followers think is happening.

You’re going to need to deeply understand the desires of your audience; even the desires that are not openly admitted. The kind of thing people don’t write out on surveys.

And let’s get this out of the way right now: the experience your customers and followers think is happening is only tangentially related to reality. This experience is largely imaginary, and that may seem unfair to you.

They choose it for reasons you may not entirely understand. It could be imprinting from a childhood experience or interaction with a parent. It could be from something they’ve seen in movies or television, or even related to a story they heard or read.

It’s not your responsibility to create this experience, but you will need to deal with it in some fashion. If your customer’s experience is not harmful or unethical, you need to encourage it. You and your customer are writing that story together, and you want that story to be as close to  the experience you want them to have, but it might never match it completely.

Now what about what is actually happening? You’ll go a little crazy if you hang your self-worth on that hook. My advice is to ignore it completely.