The summer between college graduation and starting my career I had one of the best “jobs” of my life. I was a day camp leader for an Outward Escapes camp where we took kids from 10 – 13 years old into the Oregon wilderness, but only far enough away so that we would be home by dinner. I literally wore shorts and sandals every day and had tan lines on my feet for the next 2 years. It was pure fun in the sun with a little supervision thrown in to justify getting paid for it.
Of the 2 week sessions of the summer, my favorite was the waterfall excursions as there are some 100+ waterfalls that contain swimming holes complete with natural diving formations throughout Western Oregon.
On one morning we loaded up the vans to head to a destination that was new to me with a 30 ft falls and large pool for swimming. As we arrived at the trailhead, we unloaded our lunches and picnic supplies, I set my backpack down at the top between two trees overlooking the top of the falls and the pool beneath. The clear water below looked crisp and cool in the mid-morning sun, with bright green moss covering the water-worn rocks surrounding the pool. The overspray from the falls was misting through the air and projected rainbows as rays of sunlight cut through the dense forest of Douglas Firs.
I’ve never claimed to be that intelligent and at 22 years old testosterone and the thrill of adrenaline tends to shout louder than common sense. With barely a thought, I took off my shirt, stepped to the edge, and propelled myself out into the air and down 25 feet to the water below. It was only about half way down that the idea occurred to me that there may be rocks lurking below the waters surface or that the pool may not be as deep as it appeared from the top.
I landed with a splash, much to the surprise of the other campers and counselors, who were still getting settled in, and rose through the bubbles to come back up for air. First jump done…tested and approved.
At our lunch break later that day the head counselor asked me how I could just jump without having been there before or knowing anything about the terrain or surface below the water. How did you know you wouldn’t die?
As I contemplated her question between bites of a quickly prepared PB&J and the answer was obvious – the ground around the launch site was packed as hard as concrete as if prepared by the hundreds of thousands of potential thrill seekers that had come before me. I instinctively knew that this part was safe and didn’t give it a second thought as to my personal well being.
While certainly looking back on the situation I could have put a little more caution into my decisions but there are lessons to learn about storytelling and guiding your audience or customer on a journey.
By carving out the path and setting the scene for them to take logical leaps where there may be some risk involved you allow them to experience the thrill of adventure, the risk of the unknown but with a sense of enough certainty to make the risk more calculated.
Sharing stories of past experience, customer insights and use cases, as well as sharing quotes directly from customers lets your target audience know that they are not the first to encounter this situation and making the leap may just be the best thing for them.
Craft your narrative to allow several launch points where the decision to jump becomes all the easier and they take the leap on their own with no coaxing or pushing necessary.
Dive in, the water is fine!