I’m a great believer in story-telling. The wise Persian maiden Sheherezade held off death by telling the Sultan compelling stories that eventually taught him become a better man. Similarly, successful marketers tell stories to capture the attention of their audiences and “teach” them to want the products they’re selling.
Story-telling doesn’t have to be complicated. I was reminded of this recently when Max and I were buying a car. Our salesman, let’s call him Doug (because that’s his name), is warm, funny, and personable. He’s also a consummate story-teller, although he probably doesn’t even realize it.
For example, when he wanted to tell us that our new car would be very reliable, he didn’t quote statistics. He said something like this:
So you’re in Vancouver and you go to catch a taxi. Know what you’ll end up riding in? Yup, a Prius. There are hundreds of them on the road there. And some of them have been running for ten years. The taxi-drivers love ‘em because they save them so much money on gas.
On the subject of satellite radio, he said something like this:
You get a three-month trial period with this car. You probably don’t think you really need it and then one day, poof, they just cut it off. And you know what you do? [picks up the phone on the desk and speaks into it] “Hey, let’s get that service going again – I want my music!”
His “stories” made the specs and extras very personal and immediate. They helped us imagine ourselves as the car’s owners. They brought to life to what might otherwise have seemed like a well-worn sales pitch. They sold us our beautiful new Prius!
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