A story of a boy and his wealth
On the 23rd of June 2008 at exactly 9.14am, Josh Parks strode purposefully into Barclays Bank on the High Street in Purley clutching a carrier bag.
He fidgeted nervously as he queued. When his turn came, he stepped forward and emptied the carrier bag, covering the counter with coins and notes totalling exactly £898.81.
“I’d like to open a bank account please” he asked with the broadest grin.
As stories go, it’s not a marmalade dropper, but I’m going to place a small bet that you read it.
I could have saved us all time by giving you a condensed version.
“A few years ago, a guy walked into his local bank with the proceeds from his part time job to open a bank account”.
If I’d done that, you’d already have forgotten it. Quite rightly.
The reason you like the long version is the detail. It paints a picture that makes it relatable.
The exact date. The time and place. A precise sum of money. I’ve even given him a name and described his feelings.
We can imagine ourselves in that story.
“Peter, what the hell has that got to do with us?”
Valid question. Keep reading.
Gimme all your money
Last week a letter from the Chief Executive of a national charity slithered optimistically through my letter box. He wanted my money.
“We have a national crisis. Many families are struggling to afford three meals a day. One in five families have used a Foodbank in the last twelve months”.
I’m a charitable sort of guy, but I’m afraid Mr Chief Executive left me unmoved.
Because his factual, broad-brush appeal got diverted to the wrong part of my brain. The logical part. The area that deals with which bins to put out this week. Not the part that deals with splurging irrational sums of money on causes that make me cry.
Sure, he’d described a problem, but he’d done it from 35,000 feet. There was nothing I could relate to.
What would have made me reach into the back pocket of my 501s for my Visa card? Relatable detail, that’s what. Something like this.
"In every street like yours there’s a family like Sam's.
Sam is a single mother and has two young kids. John who’s nine is an Arsenal fan and loves Declan Rice. Six-year old Annie would go without pocket money forever more in exchange for Taylor Swift tickets. Two normal kids.
But what’s not normal is that John and Annie go to school hungry every morning because Sam can’t afford to buy her family three meals a day”.
I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I’ve painted a picture that some people will relate to. Who?
Anyone who has young kids and can’t imagine sending them to school hungry.
Anyone who has young kids in their family, or in their street.
And they’ll relate because I’ve painted a picture with some relatable detail. They can place themselves in that story and so it’s going to be diverted to the same part of their brain that sent a waterfall of tears cascading down their cheeks when Bambi’s mother died.
You need to do something different if you want to get noticed.
Detailed, relatable stories are your friend.