Chapter 17

Stories attract, engage, motivate and inspire

There are two things that set homo sapiens apart from the rest of the animals on this planet. The first is to be able to imagine something that does not exist. The second is to tell stories that inspire people to believe in the same things.

These two abilities have enabled leaders to grow small bands of humans into large tribes and eventually whole nations. In the same way, they have enabled entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to imagine building settlements on Mars and to then inspire a team of scientists to work together to make that a reality starting with creating a reusable rocket that cuts the cost of one launch from $160 million to $50 million and counting (down).

On a more prosaic level, a story could inspire someone to pay more for an object because it invests emotion in that object that would not be felt otherwise.

In 2009, journalist Rob Walker wanted to find out whether storytelling is the most powerful tool of all. 

He decided to run a test so he bought 200 common-or-garden objects on eBay for a total of $129.  He then invited 200 authors to become a part of his ‘Significant Object Project’. Each author wrote a story about one of the objects before that object complete with story was put back on eBay.

The goal was to find out what difference the addition of a story would make to the eventual selling price of the object. 

One of those objects was a plastic horse’s head. It was bought for 99  cents and  sold complete with a story for $62.95. That is an increase of 6395%.

In the end, the 200 objects were together sold for close to $8000 which is strong evidence to support the idea that stories exert a powerful influence on the perceived value of products. 

Stories suck us in. Transform us from observers to participants. Stir emotions. Make us laugh or cry. Bring us together to support a cause or drive us apart and encourage us to fight.

We are born storytellers. We tell them every morning, noon and night. To our family, our friends, our  colleagues and clients.

Stories are in our DNA.

Integrating storytelling in our business is not hard as long as you lead with empathy. 

Make your ideal customer the hero. His #1 challenge the demon to be overcome. The vision of the better life he or she wants to lead, the goal. All you have to do is show them the principle steps they have to take to get there.

Imagine having a set of frameworks from which to choose that help you create a well-structured story every time you sit down to write. They come as part and parcel of the Story Inception Method.

Story driven companies lead with empathy. Inspire their customers and potential customers to buy from them almost at any cost. 

Stories build their brand. Build the emotional connection with that brand and make the fans of that brand feel part of something bigger and better. Feel part of a Community, in fact.

A good example is Apple. 

Steve Jobs wove a story into every product launch he ever did. People queued round the block and through the night to buy and were happy to pay more for the product when they arrived at the check out.

Remember Apple were almost bankrupt, when Steve Jobs returned on a salary of $1 after 10 years in the ‘wilderness’. 

The company became the first trillion dollar company and storytelling was a big part of that turnaround. 

We’ve all heard about the Steve Jobs reality distortion field. His ability to imagine things that did not exist helped him do that but his ability to weave stories into his offers enabled him to succeed.

Telling stories is a first principle. 

It is something that all successful leaders use to inspire their audiences. Storytelling is the base upon which the Story Inception Method is built. 

In the days of digital privacy, the ultimate cookie is the seed you plant in people’s head when you tell an engaging story. 

It’s organic.
It’s ethical.

And yet it draws your peeps in and invites them to come back and buy from you.

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