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Revealed: Hemingway's Secret to Powerful Storytelling

+ The Question That Changed Everything

Hello and welcome to the 112th edition of Fresh Salmon.

I am pleased to have you here, and if you would like to read past issues of the newsletter, please click here.

One of Ernest Hemingway's most poignant short stories is considered one of the greatest in history.

It was just 6 words…. 

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Telling a story is more about what you omit than what you include. 

Hemingway, a masterful storyteller, does exactly that in six words.

The art of storytelling has always captured my attention. My interest in this area has been growing for the past few years. 

There is no greater power than storytelling. It's how we communicate and connect with other human beings. 

Naturally, I am intrigued by Hemingway's storytelling style.

Ernest Hemingway introduced the Iceberg Theory, also known as the omission theory, as a framework for storytelling.

It is based on the principle that like an iceberg, only a small part can be seen above water, so in a story, only the surface elements (such as plot, setting, dialogue) are visible to the reader, while the deeper meaning, themes, and symbolism remains submerged, implied instead of explicit.

As an example of how the Iceberg Theory can be applied to business storytelling, let me provide five examples:

1. Inspire Intrigue with Unanswered Questions:

For example a travel business instead of simply describing a destination with facts and figures, could write —

"Last month, Sarah left for what she expected to be a typical vacation to Greece. Her return was filled with a new perspective on life, a secret recipe, and a story she couldn't tell anyone else who had been to the Aegean sunset."

2. Imply Greater Depth Through Minimalist Dialogue:

When explaining a new investment strategy in detail, a financial company could include a brief conversation between two successful investors —

"John asked, 'Have you already moved into the new wave?' Susan replied with a smile, 'Early bird, John. Remember, it's not just about timing.”

Do you know the strategy they're discussing? It's not just about when you act, but knowing the 'why' behind the move.

3. Use Symbolism to Suggest Hidden Layers:

Rather than directly mentioning the benefits of meditation for a wellness brand, you could write —

"In the center of the bustling city, there is a garden where time seems to stand still, and the only sound is the wind whispering.Though it is not located on any map, those who find it comprehend the true meaning of inner peace."

4. Highlight Emotional Truths with Understatement:

If you are the owner of a pet adoption company, instead of explaining each pet's backstory, you could share one simple moment —

"When Mike first met Bella, he did not say much. He sat down, and she slowly walked over and curled up beside him. Sometimes you choose your pets; other times they choose you."

5. Describe the Backstory Using Specific Details:

Instead of listing new arrivals for a vintage clothing store, you might write —

"The emerald dress from the 1950s isn't just a piece of fabric; it's a relic of a bygone era, worn by a woman who believed in love at first sight, danced until dawn, and always left a hint of jasmine in the air."

In each of these examples, the details provided are just the "tip of the iceberg."

They suggest a deeper story, emotion, or principle that the reader can infer, which makes the narrative more engaging and compelling.

Now your turn, go and try writing a few of your examples, and share with me.

The Single Question That Forever Changed My View on Success

10 years ago, an investor posed a question that would forever alter the trajectory of my thoughts.

"If you had the chance," he asked, eyes locked on mine, "what kind of company would you dream of building?"

Without a moment's hesitation, the words leaped from my lips:

"I'd create a powerhouse distribution channel, a bridge connecting a sea of qualified prospects directly to the companies yearning for them."

The specifics? Unclear. But the vision? As vivid as the brightest star in the night sky.

Since that day, not a single sunrise has greeted me without my mind dancing around thinking about the distribution channels.

As a marketer, it has become my north star that guides every move I make.

Fast forward to the present, To this day, I start my internal marketing deck with the quote -

The best products alone don't win; the ones with the best distribution do.

This statement isn't just an attractive quote — it's the lifeblood of my strategic plans.

As economic uncertainties loom, the stakes have risen. Every company is desperate to attract new users without draining its coffers in the quest for profitability.

Furthermore, the traditional pathways of outreach are crumbling before our eyes. Cold emails are disappearing into spam folders, and buyer behaviors are shifting.

Now, more than ever, the riddle of distribution stands at the forefront, demanding our attention, urging us to think deeper, push harder.

In light of this, I turn the question to you:

How are you navigating the intricate maze of growth in your business? Is distribution a challenge you see as ever-growing?

Interesting Thing That I Read This Week

Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Sparktoro, is one of the most credible marketers in the world, I pay attention to everything he says.

Tweet That I Noticed This Week

Wow, how did I not know about this? Did you?

What Do You Think?

This concludes this edition of Fresh Salmon.

I would like to hear what you thought of today's newsletter.

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