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A Persuasive Tool That Acquires the Most Stubborn Curiosity

Spotify, Malteasers, and Ibiza’s waitresses all use it wisely.


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Max Phillips

3 years ago | 4 min read

In Ibiza, jaeger bombs cost an arm and a leg. So when a waitress approached me with an entire tray for sale, my stingy mind took charge. No, I thought to myself, don’t waste your money.

You can imagine what happened next.

When I returned home and started journaling, I suddenly realize why I splashed the cash. Firstly, I was drunk, but more importantly, the waitress painted a narrative.

She leaned into our collective frustrations about the Covid restrictions, validating her as an ally. She drew the invisible ‘us vs. them’ lines.

Of course, she might not have cared, but it felt like a conversation rather than a sale.

The jaeger bombs weren’t overpriced. Instead, they were a way to cut loose and rebel. Through buying, I was shaking my self-righteous fist and breaking free from the shackles of Covid.

Average words neatly wrapped in a story. Curiosity acquired. Euros taken.

Simple but elegant.

How not to sell, from someone who hated selling

During my time in retail, I was constantly pushing additional products. One week it was a membership card, the next a magazine. Whenever a transaction began, the inevitable bombardment made me uncomfortable.

So, when someone doesn’t shout the deal in your face from the off, it’s a refreshing change of pace. It shows they care, even if they don’t.

If you’re genuinely trying to sell, talking with someone is better than talking at them.

I’m selling to you right now

Sales are everywhere you go — billboards, bus stops, pop-ups, fliers. They’re both obvious and incognito.

For example, this article is a sales pitch.

Every sentence is an invitation for you to continue reading, which in turn earns me money. If you choose to claim the freebie at the end of this piece, you’ll join my email list and potentially buy a product of mine in the future.

You’d do well to avoid adverts. There are so many, so how do you stand out from the crowd?

Make the customer the main character

The Ibiza waitress put the emphasis on me having a good time, encouraging me to facilitate my fun and buy a shot.

Spotify deploys this concept but on a much larger scale.

For the last few years, Spotify uses its member’s data to create ‘Wrapped.’ You find out what genre, songs, and artists you listen to most. Through music, you can see your year’s journey.

I look forward to it every year, as I can tell the different phases I go through. For example, in 2019, composer Ramin Djawadi was my top artist. I used his Game of Thrones score to help me focus while writing my dissertation and finishing university.

It worked, as in 2019, nearly 60 million users engaged with the service. Couple that with 1.2 million tweet mentions, and it’s clear Wrapped had the desired effect.

It gives the service a unique feel. You’re the author; Spotify is the editor and publisher wrapped in one.

Wrap a sales pitch in a story

I know you’ve read about James Clear thousands of times by now, but hear me out.

His advice is excellent on the face of it, as he clearly (no pun intended) shows how you can implement habits that will change your life. But it’s not revolutionary. He just lays it out nicely.

Atomic Habits starts with, you guessed it, a story. A good one at that. He describes his freak baseball injury and how that changed his life, forming the book’s genesis. All to explain how habits changed his life.

Average words wrapped up in a compelling story.

Make sure your story is unique and authentic

James Clear’s injury was unique to him. Likewise, getting ripped off in Ibiza was unique to me (although not uncommon, I imagine).

On a broader scale, no one executed this better than Malteasers.

They realized disabled people feel grossly underrepresented by the media, including their market. So to bring their story to light, Malteasers created adverts inspired by real-life disabled people, focusing on awkward situations we’ve all experienced.

As a result, the UK chocolate brand saw an 8.1% increase in sales, with 57% of customers saying they’re changing the public perception of disability.

By grounding their story in reality and with the help of data, Malteasers showed the real impact an inspiring story could have. The story came first, with the sales increase feeling like a bonus.

Potential customers will see right through you. Ground your story in authenticity to ensure people know the person behind the words.

You’re a human first and a salesperson second.

Storytelling is much easier than direct selling

You could have the most basic product in the world, but when you wrap it in a unique, authentic story, suddenly you’re giving it credibility. It’s also effortless, as when you speak from experience about something you care for, you don’t need to rehearse. Your memory is your script.

Stories naturally acquire curiosity. To land a potential customer or even just get someone’s attention, all you need is a good one.

And before you know it, you’re the one selling three jaeger bombs for 30 euros with ease.

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