Why You Should Start Selling Stories

We can’t help but become storytellers turning even the simplest of events into stories to be shared. Do stories really sell? To know the answer, let’s explore three different stories.

The Value of Stories

Rob Walker, New York Times Magazine columnist, decided to conduct an experiment to understand why some products are more valuable than others. He wanted to prove that the value isn’t contained in the objects themselves, but in the story behind the objects. Together with a friend, he bought objects that cost him a range of one to four dollars at tag sales and thrift shops. The objects had no worth, such as a jar of mayonnaise, a plastic banana, a hotel room key. He then asked of some writers to each write a story about one of the objects, that would add meaning to the objects. Walker put the objects up for sale on eBay along with their stories. The results were completely unexpected. The objects value rose an average of 2,700%! That miniature jar of mayonnaise that he purchased for less than a dollar was eventually sold for $51.

Stories Create Preferences

(RED) was founded in 2006 to harness the power of people and companies to help fight AIDS. It partners with the world’s most iconic brands that contribute up to 50% of profits from (RED)-branded goods and services to the Global Fund. Let’s look at it from your side, the customer, you’re about to buy Beats by Dre headphones online, when you find this message on the red ones: Buy (RED). Give Life. Every PRODUCT RED purchase brings us one step closer to an AIDS-free generation. Would you buy it? Red might not necessarily be your favorite color, but you are buying something you need while helping create a better world. Who wouldn’t want that?

 

Stories Stimulate Affection

In the United States, in 1978, Xavier Roberts created Cabbage Patch Kids a line of soft sculptured dolls. By the early 80s, all the kids wanted a cabbage patch doll, the demand was extremely high, the dolls were quickly disappearing of the shelves. Those dolls were very simple in their making; soft bodies, hard heads, their eyes didn’t close and their mouths didn’t open. So why did every kid want them? To begin with, they weren’t referred to as dolls, but as kids. They were not offered for sale, but were “adopted” each with their own individual name, their unique clothing and birthdate. Each kid had preferences and a back story told through official looking documents, like a birth certificate, adoption papers and a family history complete with inked footprints. People weren’t buying dolls they were buying stories.

 

We all love a good story. It’s common across all cultures, wired into our brains, we’ll try and find the story in everything we encounter.  So when we sell, we do not sell products. We sell stories.

Enjoyed this article? We recommend you also read 3 Simple Elements to Tell a Story Through Interactive Environments.