Saturday, November 14, 2009

Information + EMOTION => desired action!

Now that’s an awkward title for an article, and I believe most would agree with me, but symbols could be quite powerful and I’d like to “think outside the box” (or is without a box now!?) and do differently. So that’s my title!

STORY 1: There are over 5 million unemployed youths and graduates in Nigeria today, and we believe government, individuals and organizations have a compelling moral obligation to tackle this escalating economic predicament that threatens the persistence of the Nigerian state. We have many graduates that do not have jobs, and are wasting away by the millions. At the last count, over 5 million graduates were found to be unemployed. If nothing is done about this, then we are at risk of failing as a nation and branding ourselves as a classic reference for a failed state where nothing worked, most were downtrodden and remained perpetually at the rear of the social ladder with no hope of redemption.

You would agree with me that this is quite an interesting story (partly true and maybe worrying too), that warrants light-speed attention and planning and ought to jump-start all parties into instant action! If you would rightly observe, this story is quite familiar and does not seem to have the edge required to challenge the intended audience, by force-shifting their transmission from the deplorable “Parking” state to “Drive”, or better still “Turbo Drive +” (for those of us that drive Mercedes, and I’m not talking about v-boot here).
Many would probably sigh, think for a few minutes, discuss with a few friends, unanimously condemn the situation together and then utter the expected statement – God is working, things will get better by God’s grace – AMEN, and that’s it! We move on to the ‘real’ issues of life.

……but we’ve been using this same christianese phrase for donkey years, though I think it’s hypocritical and has yielded little or practically no result – infact, things have gotten worse, but we still keep saying the same thing. Maybe God should be held responsible, or what do you think? Or could it be that the responsibility is really ours, and that we’ve just found a convenient way to shift it to someone up there who we all know hardly speaks audibly, at least in physical terms). Now I’m starting to get emotional, and I’m digressing too.

Let’s get back to the main point! STORY 1 doesn’t linger, doesn’t stick in the memory of the intended audience, and definitely produces little action.

STORY 2: Chukwuemeka is a bright young student who read Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate at Ahmadu Bello University. He graduated with honors, completed his mandatory NYSC Youth Service program in Abuja, and subsequently returned to University of Jos because he was not retained where he served, and could not secure a job after several unsuccessful attempts at tests and interviews. He could not afford the fees for a Master’s degree and since he had no one to look to for help (His father is late and his mother sells vegetables in the village), he resorted to selling telephone recharge cards. The odds of him getting a good job are fast declining, given the fact that most employers have age limits and would always prefer to employ “fresh” minds.

Ladies and gentlemen, there were 2 million examples of Chuwuemeka in Nigeria in 2000, but today, we have at least 5 million. Chukwuemeka is your cousin, your neighbor, your recharge card vendor, and maybe your brother. Tunde had a similar experience as Chukwuemeka, but has since resorted to Fraud and armed robbery. I do not pray for this, but at this rate, there’s a good chance your son could grow up to become just like Chukwuemeka, or worse still Tunde. What we do right now will determine what happens next.

Wow! So this is what is really happening, and there’s a good chance my son can become like this??? The answer to that is………..well……………, YES!!!!

Those are the kinds of questions that would race through the minds of those in your audience, and I could almost guarantee that you’ve just successfully launched your “Network Marketing business”. People will talk even more, and many will certainly ACT. Remember what we really want is for people to


Stories are real, personal and they stir up emotions, hence everyone can relate to them. Statistics and theories are real too, but they are impersonal and unemotional. At best, they make us exclaim WOW…...but that’s where it ends.
How we love to quote the stats and present data, but they seem to never work when they stand just by themselves.

Next time you want to communicate and get results, tell good stories and support them with the stats.