Use the Sabiki Principle to Give Every Story a Hook That Resonates


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April 13, 2016 12:11:04 AM

Sabiki rigs are one of the most fascinating tools I’ve ever seen used in fishing. They consist of anywhere between six and ten small lures with individual hooks, all attached to one fishing line and rod with a sinker at the end.

If you’re not much of a fisherman, a typical fishing line has just one hook to catch one fish. So why would you want a line with ten hooks? Well, for ten fish, of course.

In ocean fishing, small fish are often used to catch bigger fish. A sabiki rig is a great way to catch these smaller fish, six to ten fish at a time. Each hook can catch a fish, which is much more efficient than catching one bait fish at a time.

The Sabiki Principle

I shared the sabiki anecdote on a recent episode of The Fizzle Show, but not because we talk about fishing. Instead, we were talking about the importance of storytelling.

As humans, we’re hardwired to connect with the elements of story. In fact, we’re so hardwired that we tell ourselves stories about the decisions we make, the things we buy, and the people we spend time with.

But when you’re on the other end of the story — as storyteller — the responsibility of making the story resonate with your family/friends/readers/audience rests with you. This is even more true when you decide to step up and lead. People look to you to tell a story about why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Whether you’re raising children, leading teams, or selling a product to your customers as an entrepreneur, story matters.

We talk a lot about the importance of story for entrepreneurs here at Fizzle. If you’re starting a business, your brand should have a compelling unique selling proposition. But this is true if you’re trying to spread an idea or teach your children an important lesson as well. You need a reason for people to listen up and take action.

Different people respond to different stories, which can create a challenge for the storyteller. How do I tell a story that resonates with people who have different motivations and values?

That’s where The Sabiki Principle comes into play. Every story needs a hook. A thing to grab the person on the other end and spur them to action. And even better, every story can have many hooks.

One Story, Many Hooks

This often confuses people… “I thought the experts say if I’m talking to everyone, I’m talking to no one?” they say.

Yes, your story should have an audience. Let’s take dog beds for example. Who’s the audience? Dog owners who love their dogs.

But remember, not every dog owner has the same values and motivations. So what is a storyteller to do?

First, a great storyteller has to know the moral of the story. Maybe the moral of the story for Cozy Cama dog beds is that “Every dog deserves to feel at home in their bed, just like you.” Great! Many people would love the idea of that.

That won’t be enough to get a dog owner to buy a bed. After all, if I’m going to pay $200 for a dog bed, I’m going to need to convince myself that it matters enough to take action. I need you to hook me.

Here are five ways to hook a dog owner and allow them to tell themselves a story about your dog bed:

  • Our dog beds are made from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, with non-toxic finishes
  • Our dog beds come in custom sizes and finishes to match any size home and any style of decor
  • Our dog beds are designed to work with human pillows so your dog can rest as easy as you
  • Our dog beds have a lifetime warranty, which means if it’s breaks under normal use, we’ll replace it, no questions asked
  • Our dog beds come with hand lettered engravings so that your pet knows she’s right at home

The Right Hook for the Right Person

If you read each of those hooks, they relate back to the moral of the story, but they appeal to people with different motivations. Every single one of these hooks could be true about the same dog bed.

But if one buyer cares about sustainability above all else, they might not care as much about engraving. They might order only because you’re using the most sustainable, non-toxic materials you can find. Another consumer might tell himself a story about a dog deserving monogrammed everything just like his daddy. That might make a dog owner feel like he loves his dog more while he could care less about what kind of wood you use.

Both of these people want their dogs to feel at home in their beds. And because of that, you hooked them with just the story they needed to here to take action.

This principle works across the spectrum. Raising three infinitely different children? What’s the hook on why they should eat their vegetables? Teaching a classroom of children? What’s the hook that will get them to engage in the learning? Leading a team? What’s the hook that will make them feel inspired every day they show up for work?

Every story needs a hook. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop there. Use the sabiki principle to make your stories resonate.

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