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They Buy Your Story

Core Differentiator, Marketing Using Your Story, Small Business Marketing, Unique Selling Proposition 5 Comments

I had always appreciated art, but never collected it. Then I went to Las Vegas with a friend and we stopped into an art gallery to appreciate some art without any intention of making a purchase.

We were both attracted to a lithograph that had additional gold leafing and work done to the piece by the artist, it was a real beauty. A sales person came over and asked if we were familiar with the artist. “No, no”, we replied (uh oh, a sales person is going to try to pressure us!). So, she stood there and told us his name, his geography and why he was one of her favorite painters. All of his paintings told a story through the sybolism of various objects in the picture. She had met with him many times and had heard his story for each of the paintings they sold, first hand. She gave us a couple examples for the painting we were looking at, which were, well, rather intriguing to my friend and me.

Next, she said, if we would like, she would take the painting into a room where we could see it better and not be interrupted (as had happened a couple times during her story telling), if we would like. We were on vacation, we thought. No where to be and we were learning something new. Sure. Which room?

We met her in a room that had black walls and was very dark where she placed the painting under a light that brought out all the colors and brilliance, the beautiful art filling the room. She started at the top and described what each of the symbols meant in the picture and how collectively they told a story that had religious messages, good vs. evil, and current cultural mores conveyed through various objects and techniques. We were spellbound and related completely to the message the artist was sharing (now that we knew what it was).

She left the room and brought in another of his paintings we had been admiring and told this painting’s story. Once again, we were connected to the piece. Initially by the pure beauty and colors, but the bond, the real connection came from knowing that everytime we looked at that piece of art, it would have its aesthetic value and then the deep and profound story we saw. The sales person left the room.

My friend and I discussed how the different pictures were pieces we would like to look at and be reminded of their story every day in our own homes. One of the pieces had a story that spoke deeply to us both, and we both purchased a copy of it. I purchased the second painting as well, for the same reason.

I had no intention of buying anything in that gallery. I never considered myself an art collector. And, if I had made a decision to buy (or not to buy) based on the appearance of the painting(s) alone, I would have walked out without a purchase. But, the sales person sold me the story that the picture would retell me everytime I looked at it.

I have a client that sells apparel. When I asked them what they sold, they told me bamboo children’s jerseys with sayings on them. I asked why they decided to create these jerseys? They told me: “We developed our company out of our shared passion to create fashion that would be desirable to wear based on its appearance and comfort, have a positive impact on those that encountered it through inspiring sayings, minimize impact on the environment by using sustainable fabrics, and when possible, is manufactured right here in the USA. We try to stay true to this mission in everything that we manufacture. That is why our clothes impact both the wearer (through the amazing silky comfort and colorful fashion), as well as the observer with the inspirational and thought –provoking words they convey. Additionally, our economy is suffering, so we try to keep the manufacturing here instead of overseas, which is why our shirts cost more to make, but make us feel good about helping American workers.”

Now, would you be more convinced to buy that child’s jersey made out of bamboo knowing this whole story behind it? They weren’t trying to sell me anything, they just told me their story. But, in the end, it is their story that I buy. After all, I like their story, and everytime I look at one of their shirts on a child it reminds me of their story. I feel good knowing I had supported this story that I connected to, believe in and want to be part of.

Do you have a story for your products and services? Are you the most green providor in the area? Are you award winning for creativity or precision? What was the passion that led you to start your business or create a specific story? What problem were you solving for yourself or someone else? Do you share that story? In the end, people are persuaded to buy based on the whole story related to your product or service, not just your widget or service alone.