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Sell with a story

Storytelling is crucial in your success. Let me share an example with you to inspire you and illustrate the impact.

The challenge

We go back in time to the day P&G contacted me with a question. Here is what was happening. Oral B were about to launch the second edition of the TRIUMPH, a 200€ electric toothbrush. The first model was launched the year before and did not sell very well. Understandable, you’d think… 199€ for a device that is positioned alongside similar looking brushes starting at 35€. What would you need as a customer to pay the difference?

The action

The question was very simple: “Hans, can you help us in boosting the success of the 2nd Triumph toothbrush?” I love challenges so I agreed to support them. I plunged into studying all one can know about teeth, mouth hygiene, efficiency of tooth brushes and cleaning, etc… A week later people would believe I was a professional dentist.

Next I developed ‘a story”. Indeed, the first edition of Triumph failed to sell because no story, just specs. A specific number of rotations and pulsations per minute are not exactly ingredients that will make you pay a fortune for a brush, are they. A story needs to go beyond specs, beyond ratio. To be effective it includes emotion and action.

The outcome

I remember the sessions with resellers, dentists, pharmacists all over the country. They were fun and above all, they delivered the desired outcome. Imagine… I’m dressed in a white apron and while attendees are getting installed, I have a bag of Chocotoffs go around. Pure nostalgia. That smooth though hard chocolate flavor, the experience of eating the candy and mash it and taste the balanced impressions of caramel and chocolate and your own chemical processes…. Amazing. Some people even scratched the wrapping in search for the oh so popular ‘golden line’. Long time ago, the story was that if your wrapping had this golden line, you could make a wish… remember?

As people mash and eat and enjoy, I start asking questions about what is happening. Do they know how much pressure per cm² they exert with their teeth while mashing? Do they know what happens in their mouths, with their teeth and gums while enjoying the candy? What about acids, and sugars? Do we brush only to have healthy teeth or is there more to it? Etc…

As the story develops the candy gets smaller and smaller and attendees feel what is happening and they are fascinated. At the same time, they store a number of easy to repeat questions they can challenge customers with, leading the customers as such to the high-end brushes and away from the 35€ ones. I use a number attributes (flour, big brushes, …) to demonstrate why the Triumph really makes a difference and is worth every single Euro. People in the room laugh, listen, capture and share their learnings with their neighbor at regular intervals.

The learnings

It worked. The second edition of the Triumph was a success. Additional TV and newspaper ads and the story resellers were sharing to create awareness and value, made a huge difference.

Here is what I learned: a product without a story is a commercial failure waiting to happen. A story without a professional story teller is like a product without a story.

Have a great and inspiring rest of the day! Feel free to connect and have a chat on storytelling. I’d love to hear your experiences.

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