Why The Wrong Way is Often The Right Way to Persuade and Teach

fire fighters

Once in a while, I share with you stories about the wrong way to market your business.


Like this story about a marketer who pretended she’d sent me a personal note when it was, actually, a message sent to everyone on her list. 


Or this story about a marketer who sent me a sales pitch disguised as a sales receipt


Or this story about a super-creepy pitch I got from a guy named Joon who said he’d been “creeping” my LinkedIn profile. 

So, why do I share these stories? Why do I focus so much on these wrong-way-to-do-it stories? 


Because we learn as much – maybe more – studying the wrong way to do things as we do studying the right way. 


I’ve long believed that. Research proves it. 


In his great book Yes! — which is what we’re reading this month in the Mastermind Book Club — Robert Cialdini describes a study that looked at training for firefighters. 


In the study, two groups of firefighters received different lessons.

One group reviewed case studies describing real-life situations in which firefighters made errors.

The other group reviewed case studies that focused on firefighters who acted flawlessly. 


The firefighters who studied others’ errors learned more. 


From Chapter 25 of Yes!: The researchers “found that firefighters who underwent the error-based training showed improved judgment and were able to think more adaptively than those who underwent the error-free training.”  


Of course, it’s not enough to describe the error and the bad outcome. You have to describe a better way, a path that could have avoided the bad outcome. 


As noted in the book, “Specifically, case studies, videos, illustrations, and personal testimonials of mistakes should be followed by a discussion of what actions would have been appropriate to take in those and similar situations.” 


That’s what I do in my wrong-way-to-do-it stories. That’s what smart managers do when training employees. 

How about you? Have you ever used wrong-way-to-do-it stories to train or persuade others. We’re discussing that and many other questions/lessons from Yes! in the Mastermind Book Club. You don’t have to read the book to participate in and learn from the conversation. See the p.s. below for more details. 

p.s. The Mastermind Book Club is live. Every month, Ted Prodromou and I choose a book to discuss. Read it if you want, but you don’t have to.

Ted and I — along with other members — will share takeaways from the book and discuss how we can turn lessons learned into business-building action.

After I press “send” I’ll be posting this email to the clubhouse so members can weigh in and share their thoughts. 

Once a month, Ted and I will host a live event for all members to get together and discuss the book. 

Go to MasterMindBook.club to join. It’s free.

Whenever you’re ready…here are a few ways we can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you’ll land more clients:

1) Follow Tom Ruwitch on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Attend our free training: “How to Harness the Magnetic Power of Storytelling…” Discover how to transform marketing from a confusing, resource-draining hassle into something that’s simple, fun AND productive. Details and registration here.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.