All Marketers...

Do you have a Home Depot problem?

This is what it looks like as you walk through the parking lot to my Home Depot in Yonkers, New York.

No, it’s not a nightclub. It’s a hardware store.

Home Depot has a challenge. They’re not growing the way they want to. Huge discounts were enough to completely disrupt the local market, wiping out many mom and pop competitors. But low prices all by themselves aren’t enough to get a certain part of the population to show up, especially for just one or two (high margin) items like doorknobs, or even worse, stuff like a whole new kitchen.

Walk into the store and you can see which worldview the story is tailored to. It’s not for the homemaker or the occasional do it yourselfer. No, the store is clearly designed by, stocked for and organized around people who buy in volume and, even more than that, hardware geeks.

Take a look at this picture and tell me the truth: is it exciting to you? Does it fill you with anticipation to make your way down this aisle, looking at each item and finding an amazing deal? If so, you’ve got a worldview that matches the story Home Depot tells.

Many people, though, see nothing but dread here. They see a store with no helpful salespeople, a jumble of product, none just quite right, a very very long checkout line and fear. The fear of screwing up. The fear of having to come back and return something. The fear (very real) of something big falling from the top of one of these shelves and squashing them like a bug.

Home Depot is working hard to get new customers. They can’t… not as long as they continue to tell a story that only appeals to just one worldview.

Your organization may be just like the Home Depot. You may be good at one story, you may have grown into that story, but now that story can’t get you to an audience that doesn’t have the same worldview as your existing customers. The common solution is to yell. To yell louder, or more cleverly, or in more targeted media. To insist that you have the solution to this group’s problems, that you have proof that you are better, and why oh why won’t they switch.

Save your breath. Tell a different story instead.