Have you noticed how shopping for the most part has become about selling commodities versus inspiring people?
I was out and about last weekend at a local upscale mall and every store I walked into left me uninspired. From the merchandise and the visual merchandising to the marketing, in-store signage and [it goes without saying] the robotic staff. The result: I walked into and out of seven stores without buying a thing.
It seems only the high-end luxury retailers can afford to tell a story through the store environment, visual merchandising and the actual merchandise.
But that’s not true. If you want to differentiate yourself from your competition you have to tell a story.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Story-telling is so easy yet no one does it. That’s why it’s a simple, effective way to differentiate your concept from everyone else.
Customers want to be inspired, they want to be in on the secret, they want to know the back story. It helps them buy into the brand that you want them to buy.
When I was working in the beauty business, we brought in a new hair care brand called Ojon that had an incredible story.
Ojon’s website states: “Restore your hair’s natural beauty with this ancient native secret from the remote tropical forests of Central America. For over 500 years, this secret to remarkably healthy hair has been hidden in the rare oil of the tropical Ojon® tree known only to the Tawira indians who are referred to as ‘the people of beautiful hair™’.”
So that was the story we told everyone. We accomplished this by doing two things:
- We created a display in the front of the store and featured the product along with signage describing the unique nature of the products.
- We educated our employees who them could tell the story and encourage the customer to touch and smell the product.
A story doesn’t have to be exotic to sell the brand. It could simply be that the brand is from a foreign country, it was created by a celebrity, it’s 100% natural and organic, it’s made right here in [city name] or it features a new technology or material.
Here are a few more ideas for story-telling:
- Email a story – We created our loyalty program newsletters so they were newsletters and not sales pieces. They were about educating our customers and then offering a couple product suggestions versus just being about hardcore selling. We tested the story-telling concept versus just telling our customers that we had a new brand in stores and tracked dramatic increases in sales using the story-telling approach.
- Create simple signage – it doesn’t have to be an entire display, a simple sign (the silent salesperson) with a paragraph about the backstory of the brand can go a long way to encourage a customer to want to find out more
- Encourage employees to tell stories – Get them to focus on a brand or a product each day and ensure they introduce every customer to the brand or product with a story. We had such success with this that we implemented it across the entire chain and it became part of the daily ritual. Employees had to tell the manager the product or brand they would focus at the beginning of their shift and then they would track the sales on that product or brand. We found that almost all sales were incremental and saw increases in the average transaction.
So become a story teller. Like I said earlier, everyone wants to be in on a secret. Ojon offered a unique story where customers walked away with a “I have to tell you [my friends] about this new product I’m using” hook that was undeniable. Of course it helped that the actual product itself was amazing. So tell a story. Your customers will absolutely buy into what you’re selling if you give them a reason to be interested in the product.