I have been marketing for a long time and have learned a few things about selling. But there is one ingredient that is so essential to success that you will fail if you don’t have it. It is the thing that makes us first stop to look. It is what draws us in. It makes us not want to stop until we have heard the conclusion. It makes us feel good as we are buying. It reassures us when we might second guess the purchase. It’s what gets our friends interested in our purchase. It is what causes others to follow in our footsteps and buy the same things. It is the story that sells.
I first heard this idea in a very old advertising book that I read years ago. I don’t have the book anymore, so I can’t remember the name. The second place I heard this was from Seth Godin’s book, Meatball Sundae. He talked a lot about telling stories and how that helped to sell things. But it wasn’t until recently that I began to understand how important it is to our success.
During the Navy Nola Week in New Orleans we went to visit the ships docked in the Mississippi River. Some of the ships were docked along side the Riverwalk shopping center. After the ships had closed for the day, we walked inside the shopping center. There is a sweet shop there called The Fudgery. We had initially passed the place and discussed getting a piece of fudge, but talked ourselves out of it.
On the way back to the food court area we passed The Fudgery again. This time one of the ladies who work there was beginning to call everyone passing by to watch as she formed the fudge. She began singing about the fudge and interacting with the audience. She drew us in and we all became participants in the making of the fudge even though we never touched it. At one point she had us raise our hand and repeat an oath. As she led us through the oath we repeated everything she said without realizing that we were promising to buy the fudge. Through the entire show she kept us engaged by promising a free sample that would be dependent on how much we participated.
At the end of the show she handed out samples and promised a discount if people would buy multiple pieces. Needless to say we bought three big pieces and complimented her on the show as we left. We now have our own story to tell and reminiscent about that time we enjoyed the show and had some really good fudge.
The owner’s of The Fudgery understand that a story well told about their product, and allowing customers to form their own story through the experience, is what sells their products. Walt Disney is probably the best example of this. When you visit the Disney theme parks you are immersed in a story and the story last a lifetime and brings you back again and again.
Another good example of this is Saks Fifth Avenue. There is a Saks located at Canal Place in New Orleans at the foot of Canal Street. I honestly cannot afford to shop there if I want to still be able to pay my house note at the end of the month. I have visited Saks many times because they validate parking for the parking lot located above it. I always feel welcomed when I go there; everyone is very friendly. As I walk through, I begin to feel like everything in the place is special; including me and my family. Often, they will have free wine and chocolate strawberries or some other thing that we would only expect during special occasions. The whole time they are creating an atmosphere that allows you to create a story in your mind that you are part of the elite. In reality, much of what they are selling can be bought at cheaper prices and personally I am a bargain shopper, but I still like to walk through there every once and a while and tell myself a little story.
One practical way to do this on your website is to take a topic and tell a personal story or a story that relates to the topic. This is what I have done in this blog post. Try to entertain and teach by example; don’t just expose facts and figures and expect your audience to be enthralled with your content.
Now, think of your own stories and how they relate to your niche. I guarantee you and your audience will enjoy it and they will come back for more.
A video of The Fudgery in New Orleans