Storytelling

by on November 6, 2012


When selling, it helps to tell a story. A story that resonates. A story that is believable. A story that is easy to share. Don’t just tell me what you’re offering. Tell me why you’re different.

Shane Company does a fantastic job at this. Their radio ads are the longest-running continuous campaign in the history of radio. In these ads, their founder, Tom Shane earnestly talks about “your friend in the diamond business”. Not only does Shane sound like a local guy I can trust, but he gives me a plausible explanations for why I should shop with them. He doesn’t say “we’re cheaper”, Shane says “we buy our diamonds direct and pay cash so we get a better deal”. He promises they won’t pressure you and then backs it up by explaining that their sales team are not paid on commission. Shane even encourages me to shop at other stores first so I can compare the difference!

The are hundreds of companies making shirts. Apparel is a tough market and it’s nearly impossible for a new entrant to stand out. But Ministry of Supply didn’t just make a better dress shirt. They made a shirt from outer space. They told a story that grabbed our attention. And thousands of people paid in advance for the chance to get their hands on one.

Walk into a Louis Vuitton store. They’ll tell you the whole story of how Louis Vuitton designed a better trunk with a flat top instead of a rounded one. They will tell you how each product is carefully hand crafted and how their bags are perfect for every occasion. But at the end of the day, they’re not selling bags, Louis Vuitton are selling a feeling. The most important story they’ll tell you is about the feeling you’ll have carrying one of their bags on your arm as your friends watch in envy.

The French Laundry is a restaurant in Napa Valley. Several times, it has been named “the best restaurant in the world”. But the French Laundry isn’t just another fancy restaurant. They have their own gardens where they grow their own vegetables and spices. Every day, they serve two different nine-course tasting menus, neither of which uses the same ingredient more than once. They not only give you a lovely meal, they serve you a memorable story to go along with it.

The best brands and businesses understand how to tell compelling stories. Don’t just tell me what you do. Tell me why.