Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sell the story

While browsing the gift shop of a cultural heritage museum, I found more than a memento from my trip. I found some excellent advice for copywriters. 

I had asked the salesperson a question. The answer required a trip to the back room, which left me at the counter, waiting. I glanced around to pass the time and spied this note to the cashiers:

“Sell more than products; sell a story.”

People don’t walk into museums of Native American arts to buy woven rugs or pieces of pottery. They buy these things because they’ve learned something about the craft or the artist. They’ve listened to the story, and now the objects speak to them.

That’s a point worth remembering in today’s overcrowded marketing environment, where every touch point – in both real and virtual worlds – is another opportunity to make an impression…and a sale.

What I ended up buying at the gift shop was a small piece of folk art. Attached was a tag with a photo and brief description of the artist. This imbued the object with purpose and intent; it created an emotional connection with something that could easily have been just a knick-knack to remember my visit.

I left with both a meaningful memento and a useful reminder about the impact of storytelling. It’s a lesson that applies as much to a gift shop as to copywriting.

I may not be directly selling products, but I’m always selling ideas ... perceptions … reputations. Whether writing an annual report or a feature story for an employee magazine,  I will continue to look for stories that engage readers and create a connection.

I will tell the tale to make my point.

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