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How Storytelling Connects Buyer, Seller, and Product
In order to sell, you’ve got to connect. It’s not enough that the product is the right price, the right size, the right material.
Logical reasons will only get you so far. A customer’s emotional and ethical needs must be met, as well. Ethical, in this case, doesn’t necessarily refer to virtue. It’s about an ethos: who are you, and what makes you credible, authoritative, and trustworthy to the kind of customer you are seeking? Above all, it’s an emotional connection that will make the sale, whether it’s a connection between the customer and your brand, the customer and the product, or the customer and the salesperson.
The most effective way to create these connections is through storytelling. Stories have the ability to bring people together, to show what a product can do for someone. It’s a technique far more effective than simply telling someone about what it can do. So what kinds of stories will bring a customer closer to the product? Consider these questions:
- How was the product made? Do you forge your own metals? Do you make your own custom jewelry? Do you cut your own gemstones?
- What is the story of your company or brand? What inspires you?
- Are there ethical reasons to buy this product?
- What inspired the designer to create this design?
- Have you used this product yourself? When you wore a particular piece of jewelry, how did it make you feel? How did people react?
For example, you might hail from an area full of natural beauty. Long hikes or bike rides surrounded by nature give you time to dream and imagine, and you come to work full of ideas for jewelry designs inspired by nature, whether it’s the dome of the sky high above the mountains, as rich and blue as a sapphire, or a river under the sun that sparkles like a cascade of diamonds, or the rugged expanse of desert canyons that rise like bands of gold.
Or it might be the city that inspires you: the gleaming glass skyscrapers like faceted jewels, the shapes of the Art Deco buildings, the patterns and designs of the older Art Nouveau and Victorian-era structures. Your city-inspired jewelry offers a piece of your city’s culture and history to all who wear it.
And if you pride yourself on conflict-free gemstones and fair mining practices, you can go beyond stating these facts to say something about the communities these policies benefit, whether in the US or abroad. Don’t just tell potential customers that you’re doing good; show them exactly how you are doing it.
Your stories don’t have to be long narratives, either. An image can suggest a narrative and inspire the audience to make their own connections. We all know the anecdote of the one-sentence short story often attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Without introducing a character or moving through a plot, an entire tragic world is suggested, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks. This approach works for product descriptions, as well, allowing you to go beyond the standard adjectives to introduce the customer to a world. Just make sure the emotions you are evoking are the opposite of those evoked by the “Baby Shoes” story!
Stories can be funhouse mirrors, showing the world as we know it in a different shape, enlarging some aspects while shrinking others. They can be microscopes, zooming in on important details we either overlook, find inconsequential, or simply cannot normally see. Or they can be magnets, drawing an audience to a character or theme, which connects them to each other and to the storyteller. The story is the thing that creates the bond, and it does it more strongly than dry factual description because it creates an emotional bond as well as a logical and ethical bond. Sometimes, that’s what you need in order to reach the customer: to present the product not just as a product, but as a story to engage with.