What Makes a Good Story?

Of the 7 conversion triggers Story is probably the most powerful. But, what is Story? Story is the emotion we evoke in the mind of the audience.

The difference between an average and good story is 512x.

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Let me illustrate with a story.

A sales guy has been working at a mattress store for 5 years. Like most brick and mortar businesses his store is facing margin pressures and diminishing foot traffic. Finally, the store closes.

This sales guy needs a new job. There aren’t too many (or any) retail businesses that are hiring so he applies to for a sales job at a local software company that’s rapidly expanding.

He can tell his story in one of two ways:

Format 1: I’ve spent the last 5 years managing sales at a local mattress store. I was their top salesperson.

One important aspect of storytelling is managing the narrative. In format 1 the narrative wasn’t managed well because the hiring manager is thinking, “who the hell works for a dinosaur retail store? Is this guy aware the world is rapidly changing and shoppers are buying online? His current job represents the past. Our company represents the future. Do we really want a person like this leading our sales? I’m not sure …”

If you don’t manage the narrative the reader will manage it for you. And they will always manage it in a way that doesn’t make you look good.

Format 2 (512x better): I’ve spent the last 5 years managing sales at a local mattress store. I know what you’re thinking, “why did I work for a dying channel?” It was intentional. Yes, the online channel (where you guys excel) has all the advantages. But there is one sales skill only a retail store can offer, which is the ability to study and react to shopper facial expressions on a real-time basis. Because very few retail stores remain this aspect of sales training is a dying art. Was I a good sales student of sales? I was their top salesperson.

Can Price Sensitivity Be Influenced? Yes

Written form of the video above:

As marketers, we tend to want to put the consumer into price buckets.

I’ve had conversations where the marketer would say: our target audience are retired people, or our target audience are people who make over $130k.

This implies an affluent shopper who is price insensitive is price insensitive for ALL purchases. And someone who is price sensitive is also sensitive under ALL scenarios.

Price sensitivity is situational. Here is my story. I use a marketing tool for work and spend several hundred dollars on it each month. It doesn’t bother me at all.

I also have an iPhone app called AnyList.com which we use maintaining our grocery store. It’s great and I’ve been on the free plan for years.

I recently wanted to add a picture of a food item to the app so I could identify it at the store. That required moving to the paid plan for $11.99 / year for a family. The moment I upgraded I realized I had made a mistake because their individual plan for $7.99 / year was a better fit (since we have just one account). I immediately emailed their customer service team. It took a few minutes to locate their contact info and compose an email to explain my situation. Keep in mind the difference was $4 / year. Four dollars a YEAR. In other words, I spent more time writing the email. So, what happened here? What happened is that I was being situationally price sensitive. I didn’t care about the few hundred I spend a month on the marketing tool because I’m primed to pay for those “types” of services. But paying an extra $4 a year for an app that I’ve been using for 6 years didn’t seem like a good deal. Why? It’s because in my mind apps are free.

I’m the same person, yet I’m behaving in two completely different ways, simultaneously.

My point is that affluent customers can be super price sensitive depending on a situation, and lower earning buyers can be super price insensitive depending on the situation.

Marketers can influence the situational price sensitivity of the shopper. How? By telling better stories.

Fear …

Narrative Control is an attempt to make something positive that is or will be perceived as negative.

Fear is something often considered as negative, and since everyone is affected by fear, this poses a great opportunity for Narrative Control.

Take for example this ad from ProShares:


It’s no doubt that brick-and-mortar stores are being affected from online retailers such as Amazon. The future is becoming uncertain, and ProShares knows this. They take the user’s fears and instead turn it into a positive by talking about “EMTY, the first ETF designed to turn the decline of bricks-and-mortar retailers into an investment opportunity for you.”

This can be used for a variety of things: Don’t offer free shipping? Use Narrative Control to inform that you have to charge for shipping in order to meet bottom lines. Shipping times longer than expected? Use Narrative Control to let the users know that every product is delivered from your warehouse and no third-parties are involved.

Don’t Be Lazy This Holiday Season

During the holiday selling season websites typically add a sitewide design theme and/or message:


But they keep the rest of the site the same. For many sites, holiday selling is THE make/break part of their year.

Now, we know product page descriptions are THE single biggest conversion catalysts.

So, here is my question, why not rewrite your product page description around the holiday selling season? Tweak copy emphasis around themes like “treat yourself”, “amazing gift”, “celebrate”, etc.

I know what you’re thinking, “I have 561 SKUs, I can’t possibly rewrite every product page”.

Bad thought.

If you look at sales you’ll see 5 out of these 561 items drive a bulk of sales (also called Zipf’s Law). Surely, you’re not THAT busy that you can’t take out 4 hours to rewrite the description of a product page that drives 40% of annual sales.

Stories Matter

If you have the ability to tell an amazing story you can mark-up some things 1,200%, even candy floss. And story isn’t just words, it’s also the packaging. Check out Bag of Unicorn Farts:

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Sells on Amazon for $10.95:

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And people who buy it aren’t enraged that they could by the same quantity of cotton candy for 20 cents. No, they’re deliriously excited:


This is the top review rated by buyers of Bag of Unicorn Farts. Not the seller, but the damn buyers:

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You can buy Bag of Unicorn Farts here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E9D0OR2/ref=cm_gf_ss_d_d_p_aH_i0_bt20_p0_qd2

Happy holidays.