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  • Writer's pictureKanav Khurana

Learn how to tell stories

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

I am staying at a resort in Jim Corbett in India. This place is 'known' for tigers. I'm unsure as to what the published stats are, but if I were to ask an average person in my circle, he or she will say that they did not sight a tiger here. Yet, the local tourist guides, hotels and resorts will tell you that there are tigers. Why? Simple. Their very being rests on this truth. There is a trail of accommodations - ranging from 3-star lodges to 5-star resorts. It almost seems as if one's chances of seeing a tiger will increase if one were to shell out more money. It is a very smartly played game of storytelling or lying.

Lying you say? The language is inspired from Seth Godin's perceptive book. In the book, he argues that people buy stories instead of the actual products or services. If you tell a good enough story that people want to hear, it increases the likelihood of an eventual sale.

Seth gives a brilliant example of a wine glass manufacturer called Riedel who claim that there is a specific glass for a beverage - coffee, wine, etc. Essentially, the same beverage will taste different based on which glass it is consumed in. Really? I leave you to form your own opinion.

Coming back to Corbett, what if the government were to publish data after every attempted safari ride to see whether a tiger was seen or not. I believe this number will be far less than 50% - maybe even in single digits. But they won't do this. Obviously.

How, then, can stories benefit an individual?

You can argue that individuals can use this to create a story of themselves that they want to sell. Want to apply for that job? Then create a story of yourself that the company wants to hear.

Doesn't this sound unethical? It is - if you are lying about your skills. It is unethical if you lack the basic set of skills to be able to perform the duties well.

How can stories benefit a company?

Combine this learning with Simon Sinek's book 'Start with Why'. In this Ted Talk, he keeps on repeating, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". Assuming that a company's products or services match up evenly with a competitor's, then that company can do better if it tells a better story - focussed on the 'Why' people want to buy.

How can you use these insights?

  • Know that people buy into other people, products and services

  • People think emotionally, but they like to think that they think rationally

  • People buy the 'Why' and they then rationalize it in their own minds

  • Storytelling is an apt synonym for Marketing

  • If 2 products (or people) are reasonably at par in terms of quality (or skillset), the stories they tell can make a difference

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