sell me a good story

by Helen Yuet Ling Pang, food & travel blogger at 

I'm sure I'm not the only one to spend hours or days painstakingly researching and weighing up the pros and cons behind each decision that I have to make. When faced with so much information overload these days, whether it's selecting a holiday destination, a film to download or the latest 'must have' smart phone, a well crafted story behind a product or service plays an essential role in influencing our decision making.

The art of storytelling is a skill that some people naturally possess, but it's also one that others can equally acquire and develop in order to become more effective when selling anything from a holiday experience to a brand of gourmet cookies. The story has to be simple, powerful and memorable if I'm to be persuaded by it. Then not only will I be persuaded, but I'll also repeat the story to others.

So of course I'll choose a traditional Japanese inn run by the same family for 16 generations and offering private hot spring baths in each room over a similarly priced inn but with no unique story. Throw in some cute snow monkeys, an excellent dinner and charming service and anyone would be smitten. That stay was four years ago and the journey more like 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles', but I'm still telling everyone who wants to go to Japan about my incredible experience.

And don't we all prefer to eat biscuits lovingly made by a little old lady on an American farm using 'natural' ingredients rather than factory-produced, preservative-riddled ones? Simply using the word 'farm' conjures up romantic thoughts in the consumer's mind of rustic, home-made, delicious produce, even if it's far removed from reality (as I learnt four packets later).

Given the choice between several seemingly evenly matched products or services, the one with the best story behind it will grab my attention. And I'll retell it with the click of a button in today's world of Twitter and Instagram. So if you want your customers to buy into your product or service, then you need to have an authentic story to tell. 

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