Get some tissues.
Our beloved King Charles Cavalier, the first pet I’ve ever had, died on Saturday. It hit me harder than I thought it would.
Named after my hometown, 11-year-old “Brooklyn” had a biopsy on Friday. We learned he had cancer of the mouth.
We decided as a family to euthanize him on Saturday. He was in great discomfort and we didn’t want to see him suffer.
I wanted to commemorate him somehow.
Without premeditation or planning, I shot this simple 11-second video two hours before we left for the vet. I instantly knew it would be the basis of my story. (The word “story” is important here, I’ll come back to it.)
Lucia, of course, reliably made the story come to life.
My video shows 3-year-old Elliott happily and cluelessly wagging his tail on the left. A hunched-over Brooklyn looked up at me with his sad eyes the way he had so many times before.
The first of two sentences had seven words: We became a one-dog family today. It says ‘one of these two will go away.’ (Still hard to write it.)
I approach the pups as the second sentence appears: Brooklyn Hage, Feb 19, 2007 – Feb 10, 2018 which is sad as you’re staring into the little guy’s eyes.
But the little ribbon “Good Boy,” his consolation prize, still greatly affects me. It’s almost as though we’re saying, “we have to say goodbye to whomever wins the prize.”
Then came Zachary’s tribute
My 16-year-old Zachary celebrated “Boog” in three photos and a statement on Instagram. It made me weep as I reflected on it. (Again now, writing this.)
I woke really early, like, 3:30 a.m. early, on Saturday morning and came downstairs to consider which photos or videos I’d use to tell my story.
And I found a 2007 photo we took one hour after Brooklyn came home with us that first time. I made it my desktop photo. Zachary took note.
When Beth and I came home from the vet, Zachary was sitting with the same leash his 5½-old self had held. He asked me to take the same photo.
I did. It took a while to download and send to him.
I expected a juxtaposed photo but he went two steps further. And he moved me terribly with his story.
I posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Zachary’s astoundingly beautiful tribute.”
Images and words
His photo selections tell a powerful story.
“I remember when I was little, I had this puppy.
Now, some 11 years later, I am practically a grown man. It’s not so sunny out anymore.
Before, I was unsure about the pet. Now, I am forlorn and a little lost. The animal I loved no longer lives at the end of my leash.”
He concludes with a photo taken just the day before, with a perfectly in-focus and tired “Boog” in his arms, him a little out of focus, laughing, as if to say, “Those were better times.”
Then his words.
By starting with “Tell someone you love them today,” he made his story about you.
By adding “And it was the last time he would hear it,” he delivers a message for you: Time is precious. Love, share, give while you can.
And “Thanks, Boog,” well, that just makes it too much to bear.
That evening I told him how his tribute moved me. “Then it did what it was supposed to do,” he replied.
Part of the Journey
To be fair, I promised back in Journey #2 I’d tell you about my week and Brooklyn pretty much was it.
But recognizing you didn’t sign up for “Joe Hage’s life stories,” here’s my attempt to make Brooklyn “marketing related.”
We talked about DEATH and LOVE and SEPARATION from a DOG. It’s easy to write a heart-tugging story about that.
But you don’t sell that.
You sell METAL INSTRUMENTS to HOSPITALS or EMR SYSTEMS or TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION systems.
You’ll get zero testimonials from patients who used your wound dressings.
If you’re a contract manufacturer, you probably can’t even tell us Medtronic is your main customer.
So what kind of story can you tell?
Here’s an example.
I’m on a year-long retainer with ImaCor (which is why I mention them so often).
Look at this PowerPoint slide. They used it for years. Can you tell me the story?
I had a hard time understanding it even after the team explained it.
Now I’m going to tell you the same story below. There are no puppies. It won’t make you cry.
But it will clearly show the benefit of using hemodynamic ultrasound in your intensive care unit.
Story. Story. Story.
Tell a story.
And if you don’t know how, get someone who can to help.
- How to thrill competitive lovers with one easy sex exploit: Remember how we talked about “headline generators” last Thanksgiving? I used Brooklyn to start a conversation about euthanasia in humans for yesterday’s Medical Devices Group announcement. I used the headline, “How my dog died on Saturday.
“Curious, I went to the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to see what “How my dog died…” would score.
I was surprised it only got a 73. I’ve never seen an 80.
So I got sucked into to a game of my own design: What on earth would get an 80 on this thing? I blew 20 minutes on it and here are my failed guesses).
Anyhow, you guessed it, “How to thrill competitive lovers with one easy sex exploit” finally earned me an 82 after multiple tries.
Will I ever earn an 80 on a medical device headline? The world may never know.
But you can try. It’s good practice, and it’s fun.
- The Marketoonist: I’ve been following Tom Fishburne for years. This week’s marketing cartoon about the power of searching by voice was particularly good.
- Valentine’s Day: Today I’m treating Beth to a romantic afternoon with a college counselor to start strategizing for Zachary’s college tuition. I found this video of a different counselor who shares the “Top 5 Mistakes Parents Make When Applying for College Funding.” I wonder his approach to self-promotion might make sense for your business.
Thank you for reading all that. It was a tough week.
See you next week – or sooner – if you choose to reply to this email,
P.S. To my utter shock, I expected Elliott to be hardest hit by Brooklyn’s departure. It’s too early to call it, but he may actually be enjoying his monopoly on our dog love.
P.P.S. If you’re an observing Catholic, it’s Ash Wednesday. No meat. You’re welcome.