Compelling insight-driven stories about real consumers are the best way to inspire your Buyer and persuade them that your brand will grow their total category. This article explains how...
Growing the Category
As UK supermarkets continue to simplify their ranges & reduce sku count, its becoming ever harder to get the listing you need. As a small or scaling business, getting the meeting you need can be a skill in itself, but once you are there, what is it that will set you apart from all the other products the Buyer sees?
Put yourself in the Buyer’s shoes and you will soon see that they are pretty agnostic about brands, and what any individual SKU will sell – its all about the category. Will your brand drive INCREMENTAL sales, rather than stealing from the competition, and what proof do you have when you pitch?
Any Buyer listing a new brand is taking a leap of faith, and the thing that is going to set you apart from the many other hopefuls is not your brand, its not some whizz-bang technology and its not a load of charts and data. Its your story.
Stories are more persuasive
Stories are consistently found to be more persuasive than more data-led approaches (e.g. Martin & Power 1982*) because they engage the listener in a different way.
Stories can be up to 7 times** more memorable than facts alone because they act as mnemonic devices for facts. Mnemonics work by organizing abstract material into a meaningful structure – just think back to primary school and the rhymes you were taught to remember points on a compass or the colours of the rainbow for proof of this.
Engaging Our Emotions
When listening to straight information, the audience evaluates each individual message, actively analyzing each point they are hearing. When our emotions are engaged, however, and we feel personally connected in some way to an authentic narrative, we often absorb it entirely, without pausing to challenge or deconstruct what we’re hearing.
Swept away by a compelling story, we are more likely to embrace the ideals and messages it is promoting. Even though there may be no facts or data, we can still be deeply moved – and when we do have the facts, the story becomes even stronger. In the end it comes down to the audience being able to relate to what you are saying:
“Data are just summaries of thousands of stories – tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful.”
Chip & Dan Heath, from the book Made to Stick
What makes a good story
All stories need a start, a middle, and an end. By setting the scene, showing you understand market conditions and consumer trends you are making your product relevant to the retailer and showing it addresses a shared opportunity. Only then should you go into solution mode.
Start with the most interesting bit of the story. For a retailer this is normally the size of prize, as every Buyer wants to know ‘whats in it for me?’ so make sure you make this as clear and credible as you can.
As well as this, though, think about using additional hooks which grab the attention eg something contrarian (challenging the majority view) or counterintuitive – (going against our own gut instincts). This is where the real insight you are sharing starts to become the competitive advantage the Buyer is really looking for.
5 themes which consistently drive the most engagement in the audience are …
Make it a real story - If your story does not take people on a journey where there is a some sort of transformation or awakening between the beginning and the end, it’s not a story.
Say something new - If your story does not reveal something new or unexpected about the brand, it’s going to be boring.
Keep it simple - “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein, Physicist
End on a high – finish on your best point. The last thing in your story is what people will remember most!
Finally, deliver it with passion
Make them believe in you and remember you are not just selling the product. You are selling you, your vision, and a commitment to grow their category.
Remember you get what you give. If you present with passion, belief & humour then you will inspire passion and action in your listener. It’s that simple.
About Optima Retail
We work with scaling businesses and have a proven track record of driving commercial performance by speaking the Retailer's language - identifying new or unmet consumer & shopper needs and providing solutions which drive brand AND category performance. For a free informal chat about how we may be able to grow your business please contact us here.
* Martin J. & Power M.E. (1982). “Organizational stories: More vivid and persuasive than quantitative data.”
** Bower, G. H. and M. C. Clark (1969). “Narrative stories as mediators for serial learning.”