Why Others Will Share "Our" Story

Sure, that saying "familiarity breeds contempt" is true. We tend to take loved ones for granted, no matter how well-intended. Yet it is also equally true that familiarity breeds acceptance. Thus it is easier to stick a new idea in someone's mind if you can attach it to something that is already familiar to them. Hint: Become more frequently quoted by employing this Familiarity Effect.

Here are two ways:

1. Piggyback your characterization on top of a familiar concept or saying.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and an investor in other successful online networks gave this advice some while back: "Social networks do best when they tap into one of the seven deadly sins. Facebook is ego. Zynga is sloth. LinkedIn is greed."

2. What familiar and respected product embodies the valuable trait for which you want your product to be remembered? Plum wants to be the Netflix of baby clothes. Instead of buying clothes for your child, rent them then return the clothes when they are outgrown, and get a new set.

Here's a third hint. Let others be the stars in your story. People are more likely buy your idea or product if they are placed in a situation where they can be the experts, exploring the topic their way. Better yet, enable them to gain bragging rights, proving themselves right -- in front of others -- in their choice to buy from you or to support you.

Imagine, for example, the astonishment of the staff -- and the sommelier -- at Bone's, an Atlantic steak house when they started handing dining guests iPads at the table, loaded with a copy of the wine list. Purchases of wine, shot up 11 percent. Mused Mr. Reno, the sommelier, "With the information on the device, they seem more apt to experiment by buying a different varietal or going outside their price range. It stuns me, but they seem to trust the device more than they trust me, and these are people I've waited on for 10 years." Or, perhaps diners feel more comfortable and confident, looking at various wines themselves and discussing them at the table. The key here is that they get to be the expert. Hint: Let others take charge of your message, tweak it for their needs and thus sell themselves on it.

Entertainment mogul, Peter Guber, is a passionate believer in the power of a purposeful narrative. That means sharing a story that is meaningful to others, leaving ways for them to jump in and become an important part of that story. In Tell to Win, he gives many examples of how people love to tell others about a story in which they have a great role. Surrender your story to their re-working of it, rather than correcting them, and they will re-tell it with passion and conviction.

Organizations as diverse as LEGO and the S.F. Giants, and individuals as diverse as Nicholas Kristof and Tony Hsieh have attracted passionate supporters, in part, by letting others take over their story to re-tell it in their own way.

Surrendering your vivid story in which we can play a meaningful role can probably spread it farther, faster and in more directions than you can on your own. What story are you sharing that will pull me in? I am eager to hear it -- and your insights about now to nudge us to participate with you.