Success begins with a good story

“Facts tell, but stories sell”.

Even in ancient times, story had an important role. People have always loved telling and relaying stories. It is a powerful tool, even for organizations. For example, a good story propels your sales. It makes sure your employees know what to do. It gets everyone moving in the same direction. It creates real change. The story is a compass, route planner and travel guide all in one. Stories cause your employees to become heroes, to rise above themselves. And that is much needed. In the past, customers came in naturally, today they don't. There is more competition and customers have higher demands. With the Iphone in their hand, people compare your product in a ‘spit second’ it's all about the lowest price. Recognizable? Then something is missing from your story.

The power of narrative

Rob Walker, a New York Times journalist, has always been into stories. He knows better than anyone how powerful a good story can be. But how do you demonstrate the value of a story? In 2006, he devised an experiment that sought to show that the price of a product is influenced by a good story.

Rob Walker began with a search on Ebay. There he bought 200 cheap items for an average of $1. They were all items that you would also find among the knickknacks at any flea market. His catch included a plastic banana, storage can, wine glass, tray. In short, nothing special. Then he asked 200 professional writers if they wanted to participate in his experiment. Their assignment was to write a story for ééone object. They all answered with a “Yes. After the writers delivered their stories, it was time for the next step of the experiment.

1.083 / 5.000 He auctioned off all the items again via eBay. But now he had added the unique stories to the descriptions. One of the objects was a small plastic statue of a horse's head. He also posted a story here. The story was written by a woman and consisted of 3,000 words. She writes about the romance between her parents. That her mother had made the statue for her deceased father. Rob bought this statue, a horse head, for $0.99. Now came the most exciting part of the experiment. Because what would this statue contribute to the story? He sold the same statue on eBay for $62.95.

Was this a one-off? Well no. Rob initially bought the two hundred items for $200. Along with the stories from the professional writers, he then sold these items for almost $8,000. Profits exploded by no less than 6300%! And all because of the added stories. Stories that turned trinkets into valuable objects.

Stories evoke emotions

Organizations are formed through stories. Memories are created and we exchange knowledge. Stories also provide identity. But how can it be that we fall for stories so easily? The simple answer is that they evoke emotions. When we feel these emotions, we become less critical. Rob Walker's experiment highlights the importance of further developing the skill of storytelling. So start your story today!

Ruud Olijve

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