To Make the Sale, Tell me a Story

When I wrote that headline — “make the sale” — it sounded slightly dirty. In truth, making a sale is anything but. It’s part of many interaction. Even if we aren’t selling, we are promoting something through the art of story telling.Looking to convince, persuade, change someone’s mind.

Stories are a powerful driver of human emotional value. How much someone likes something, and how valuable it is to them, be it an object, food or a person, is often affected by what you tell them about it.

To prove this I give you … a story! Once upon a time Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn thought it would be fun to do an experiment. They collected a series of thrift-store objects worth about $1.25 a piece and auctioned them off on eBay.

But instead of using a traditional sales description, to make the sale they asked professional writers, some very well-known, to create short stories about the objects. The result: the objects sold for nearly $8,000 in total! It turned out to be an increase of 2,700 percent for each item.

If you’d like to read those stories, go to their site, Significant Objects. They’ve also published 100 of the best stories in a new book.


Creating value through story telling is not lost on big brands. Content marketing, which encompasses everything from blogs and newsletters to social media and YouTube content, has been in the marketing toolbox for some time now. And now there is “brand journalism.” Brands creating their own media outlets for their audience.
make the sale

Case Study. KitchenAid has created STORIES, an online magazine written by a talented team of what they call “makers”  — writers from a variety of fields from filmmakers and artists to chefs and restaurateurs. (An example of a few is above.) The stories on gardening, food and drink, even beekeeping and glass blowing are well-written, highly polished and have gorgeous photos. Why does it work? Studies show the more time someone spends on a website, the more you can teach them something new, the more they feel connected to the brand. Stories are the key.


The takeaway: Making a connection through stories doesn’t mean the stories are all about you or what you do. They are about things your ideal customer might enjoy or need. They fall under two types of content. Complimentary and mutual.

Complimentary + Mutual Content

To create your editorial calendar, whether it be for newsletters or social media, a combination of two types of content is a good rule of thumb — that which compliments your niche or client and that which is of mutual interest to you both.

To add in complimentary content if you are a wedding planner — your content might include relationship advice; home buying information; decorating advice or how to combine families at the ceremony.

If you are a corporate event planner, your content might include articles on wellness, team building, working from home, meal planning and childcare.

Not a writer? Don’t forget about the power of a visual story. But that’s for another blog post.

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