Can you handle the truth?

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This Thursday can’t come fast enough. Why? It’s the final episode of Serial – the podcast with such a humongous following I’m surprised it hasn’t broken the internet.

Serial is a documentary that examines the case of Adnan Syed, an American teenager who was convicted of killing his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, back in 1999. Now serving a life sentence at the Baltimore State Penitentiary, Syed has always sworn he’s innocent. So is he telling the truth?

You only have to look on Reddit to see how far the debate has gone. Suddenly, everyone thinks they’re a super sleuth. There’s a whole army of amateur detectives out there, digging around for lost public records and clogging the web with their outlandish conspiracy theories. Some are even investigating the investigator who’s investigating the investigation.

But why all this debate? Well, it all comes down to the evidence – or lack of. Whether you believe Adnan is innocent or guilty, one thing’s for sure: the state prosecutor’s case raises a hell of a lot of questions. Trying to work out what happened is like trying to keep hold of sand. No wonder there’s so much doubt in people’s minds.

So what can we learn from this? If we want people to accept our story without question, we need to give them cold, hard facts. Not woolly testimonies. Not subjective opinions. Indisputable evidence.

The same principle rings true for branding. It’s easy to make a big claim about why we’re different or why consumers should buy our product over someone else’s. But if we can’t back this claim up, our story won’t stand up to scrutiny.

That’s where the evidence comes in: stats, specifics and real, concrete examples. Every time you make a big claim, make sure you balance it with some tangible proof. Back up, link up and leave nothing unsubstantiated. The best way to persuade people to buy your product over someone else’s is to leave no room for reasonable doubt.

And if you haven’t listened to Serial yet, do it. Do it now.

 

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