Everyone wants to know how to sell more stuff. Although this topic is vital to businesses, it’s also extremely important in everyone’s daily life. During business hours it’s about selling products and services; in your private life it’s about selling yourself and what you believe in. When it comes to people, no one is neutral, everyone has a set of beliefs and principles that guide them. Those preconceptions invariably come in conflict, or at least contrast, with competing preconceptions. As animals, our primary instinct is to survive, so it is natural for us to use whatever assets we have to win over and beat the competition.
Business books are full of methods, strategies, tactics, and advice on how to sell more stuff and win the competitive battle for market share and financial primacy. Much of the advice is on point, constructive, and useful, but like most things today a lot of it is repetition and superficial huckstering, imparting little of value, or at worst, supplying glib stupidities that serve no one well: ergo frustration and distrust.
So for what it’s worth, here’s my best advice for how to sell more stuff and beat the competition: tell a better story: pretty simple advice. The trouble of course is that telling a better story is not simple, and it sure isn’t easy. The funny thing is we are surrounded by stories on television, on the Internet, in the movies, in video games, and of course in books. Even when we think we aren’t telling a story we still manage to speak in language structured around story forms like metaphor, simile, and analogy: metaphor being a form of speech that uses one thing to describe another; simile compares two different things to create a new meaning; and analogy normally is used to describe one thing by comparing it to another thing that is otherwise different. Okay I agree, it gets confusing but we all manage to use these forms of communication and argument without realizing it or caring what it’s called. We use them because they work, they help us tell a better story, and communicate our message more effectively.
Telling A Better Story Means Creating Compelling Content
If you buy into my premise and since you’re still reading I assume you do, or at least you’re open to the notion, then we must consider how story and content commingle to create desire. As business people we are all (including myself) anxious to pitch the hell out of how good we are, and how what we got is better than what the other guys got. The problem is everybody has heard it all before and they are really, and I mean really, sick and tired of it. Buyers, both consumer and business, are jaded beyond belief and assume everyone selling something is full of cow-paddies, everyone but themselves, of course. So how do we get around this problem?
Principles of Story Telling Content Intended To Generate Desire
What makes content creation different from advertising is, content is about telling a story. The real job of marketing is how to tell what story to whom. I know everybody loves technology and I’m no exception; but technology for technology’s sake is not a strategy. The vehicles you use to advertise are merely tactics and not a strategy in and of themselves. Technology may help to inform you how best to deliver your story, and maybe even to whom it should be delivered, but technology cannot tell you what that story should be.
Anyone who follows our blog, e-magazines, or e-books knows that we are constantly equating marketing strategies to moviemaking, and now you know why. The people who make movies are the best multimedia storytellers in the world, and every marketing executive and business owner can learn a lot about marketing by learning some of their basic principles and techniques.
We’ve all heard the old aphorism that you must create a need and then fill it. Well that was fine in the days before nonstop mass advertising took over our lives. Radio, television, print, billboards, the Internet, mobile, social media, product packaging, imprinted clothing; it’s an endless list that’s growing each and every day. If business can find a way to put an advertisement on it, they will, and most likely already have. Even European soccer teams have ads on their uniforms and you can bet North American professional teams will be doing it soon, and I’m not talking about a discreet little trademark on the sleeve; just wait till football teams splash Hooter’s logos allover their 385 lb lineman. One-hour television programs are only about forty-five minutes with the rest of the hour devoted to advertising, and if that’s not irritating enough, now they run bottom-third animated ads promoting other programs and of course sponsored products. People just tune it all out.
No one likes to be pitched even if they need what you’re offering. When you pitch somebody they instantly have their guard up. The need for most products, and services, can be fulfilled by numerous competing companies, ergo, need is not enough to deliver sales: you need to create desire. Wanting something is a far more motivating principle than just needing it. Need can be fulfilled by the lowest common denominator: the lowest price and/or the minimum quality necessary to meet the need, but desire is priceless.
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