Two key ingredients separate market leaders from their increasingly commoditized counterparts. You may succeed but will never reach your full potential if you’re missing either of these. And if you’re able to meld the two together, you can multiply your success infinitely.
1. A product or service that delivers on its promise (bonus if the product or service over-delivers or has some wow factor to it).
2. A great story (bonus if the story is remarkable, fascinating or inspiring).
Let’s look at a few examples to demonstrate the value of each and the power of having both.
Jamaican Bobsled Team
Ingredient: A great story.
Missing ingredient: A great product.
The 1988 Jamaican bobsled team stole the hearts of the entire globe. This was an underdog story in every sense of the word.
Start with the fact that this is a bobsled team from the warm, sunny climate of Jamaica, mix in pieces of a story that includes the need to borrow spare parts from other teams just to compete and you have something people couldn’t help themselves but talk about, support and cheer for.
Do a Google search for anything related to the 1988 Olympics bobsledding and the Jamaican team dominates the search results.
Of all the athletic feats performed during the ’88 games, there was one team so amazing they had a movie made about them. Guess which one? The Jamaican bobsled team (“Cool Runnings,” 1993).
This is the same team who crashed on the third run and finished last overall in the competition. The Jamaican team found success because of its story. But it only took them so far. Imagine if the product was good or even great. Imagine if they had been in contention or won! Their success and mythical stature would have been raised by infinite multiples.
The power of a great story can get attention and build a following, but without a product to match, you will never reach your full potential.
Tiger Woods, Version 1
Ingredient 1: A great story.
Ingredient 2: A great product.
Tiger Woods had it all. Not only was he the greatest golfer ever to grace a fairway, but his story was just as remarkable.
Golf is a sport long dominated by Caucasian males. Tiger is anything but. His father is African American and his mother is Thai.
He didn’t grow up wealthy or within a former professional golfing family. Here’s a kid that seemingly had everything but the perfect golf pedigree and yet rose to the top of the sport, raising the notoriety of the game on a global scale.
His story attracted people to him. He was an example of class, perseverance, hard work and possibility. Kids wanted to be like him. Parents wanted their kids to be like him. He became the highest-paid athlete of all time with endorsement deals that even the greatest athletes and entertainers could only dream of.
Tiger would have received accolades and a following even if he wasn’t the best in the world. Like the Jamaican bobsled team, his story was enough to build adoring fans who would cheer on this kind of underdog. But the fact that he was the absolute best in class, dominating the sport took him to the pinnacle of the sports and business world.
This version of Tiger Woods is the perfect example of what happens when you have a world-class story that consumers adore and a product to match. It is where miracles happen.
Tiger Woods, Version 2
Ingredient 1: A bad story.
Ingredient 2: A great product.
In 2009, the story of Tiger Woods cracked. lndiscretions, mixed with stories which contradicted everything fans believed came to light. It wasn’t as though he began losing golf tournaments, but the story built around the product was permanently cracked. Consumers and fans felt betrayed.
The product is still the same. The product, the golfer, is remarkable by any standards and can stand on its own. Success follows when the product is excellent. But without the story, the meteoric rise once enjoyed will never be the same. It can’t be. A key ingredient is missing.
For far too many businesses, the product is average at best and there is no story. This is a formula for struggle.
For others, the product is remarkable but the story is not there. These businesses face a life of painful frustration as they sit and wonder why, even though they are the absolute best, they are average by any measurement of success.
Then you have the businesses with a fascinating story but an average product. This is a unique situation where the consumers suffer, wanting so badly to support the business and see it rise to market domination, yet they are forced just to smile and wish good luck as they spend their money with a competitor whose product is better suited to fill the need.
Take a look at your business. Start with the product and ask yourself if you’re the best option. If the answer is yes, then ask yourself if there’s anything about your product or story that people find interesting, fascinating, inspiring or admirable.
So, I ask you: What’s your story?