2019-10-20 Breaking Stride

Inside Story (Part 2)

October 20, 2019

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by Trey Nosrac

“The most-often missing ingredient in a sales message is that the sales message doesn’t tell an interesting story. Storytelling… good storytelling… is a vital component of marketing.”

— Gary Halbert, marketing expert

My pal and I sipped coffee from heavy white mugs as we sat in matching white wicker chairs on the screened-in front porch of his mother’s farmhouse. The morning sun struggled to push back grey clouds. Any moment, the light would shine on the carpet of damp leaves on the sprawling front lawn.

He nodded towards the laptop resting on a small, round glass-topped round table, “So what’s this prototype?”

“I want to try out an idea. This may turn out to be another crazy walk on the wild side, but trying stupid things is my forte, I’m sort of a cello player in the marching band of life. This time I want to try a new technique to sell a yearling, something that could work for smaller breeding farms and individuals.”

“You feel they get lost in the sales season stampede?”

“Not exactly lost, but the amount of information is limited to a pedigree page and a video. As a customer, you dash from stall to stall in the sales arena wanting to know much more about a yearling. As a seller, you want to give customers more information.”

“Like what?” He asked.
“For example, and this always bugged me, once upon a time, the broodmare of the dam of the yearling we were selling showed four out of eight racehorses produced. However, that second dam had two that raced overseas that did not show up in the catalog.”

He titled his head, “Serious buyers could dig out that information.”

“There are hundreds of horses in each sale. Customers can’t take all day on every horse hunting down obscure information. Besides, even though yearlings have only been alive for a short period of time there is valuable information, both positive and negative, that doesn’t show up on paper.”

“Give me another example.”

“Say the first two foals from a broodmare didn’t race, that lack of production on a catalog page is a huge turnoff for many buyers. However, what if you learned that first foal trained under two-minutes and then put a foot through a fence, and the second yearling went to a family that did not race and they bought it as a personal horse for the family farm. Buyers don’t know that.”

He flipped his chin towards my laptop and said, “Let’s hear your pitch?”

I took a sip of coffee, set it down, cleared my throat, and began with my well-rehearsed opening lines.

“I believe that inside every person is a story-teller waiting to be set free. I believe that other people enjoy reading and hearing stories. I believe that every horse is part of a story. Social norms, lack of confidence, and fear of embarrassment make potential storytellers hold their stories inside, especially in front of a large audience of strangers.”

He clapped his hands, “Nice opening, you have my full attention.”

I continued, “Now, for me, the social norms and embarrassment ships have sailed. I am the captain of my non-normal ship of fools. My stories tend towards long, rambling, ridiculous, sarcastic sagas complete with bad puns and cheesy dialogue.”

He nodded, “You may be pathologically idiosyncratic.”

“Let’s go with pathologically creative or enthusiastic. For this sample, for this prototype, and for normal humans, I calmed things down. The example that I show you will not be clever, obscure or great literature. Instead, I will use a very, very simple form of storytelling, a good old Q & A.”

“Simple is good.”

“The experiment begins with a potential yearling buyer, or perhaps merely a curious reader, noticing a three-line teaser panel.”

He shrugged, “That’s not new. People highlight their yearling consignment in magazines or on websites all the time.”

“True, but this is different. This form of advertisement must be on websites because there are three links. In the sample I am about to show you, two of the links are normal while one link is very unusual. The unusual link leads to a story. The length, depth, and style of the story can vary. After all, space is not a problem in cyberspace, I could have linked to War and Peace if I wanted to. The ad space I purchase is basically a digital portal.”

He dramatically clasped his hands over his heart, bugged his eyes out and howled, “Digital portal! Did Trey, the walking Luddite, just utter the words digital portal?”

“Yes, great Yoda from the Land of Technology and tofu. Your forces are everywhere and strong they be. I’m trying to create an alternative from auctioneer rat-tat-tats. This is a method where buyers and sellers are digitally leaning over the fence exchanging information.”

“What if the seller is lying?”

I gave a fake gasp, “I’m shocked at your cynicism. Dude, it’s life, I’m an optimist who believes most people give the real scoop. You go into the conversation knowing the seller will lean to the positive and the buyer will be wary. The alternative is the way we do it now – visual inspection, video, pedigree, waving hands, and a wild leap into the abyss.”

I kept rolling, “Besides, it would be less expensive and give the seller more control. In this sample there a re few costs, paying to have it hosted, a professional video, and purchase of the pedigree page. I wrote the story of this yearling. If a transaction is made, there is no sales preparation and no intermediary. The horse goes from the farm to the buyer. If the seller does not get his price, he lowers his price or leaves it home for training. Either way, the story gets told.”

He held out his hand, “Let’s see what you have.”

Next week, the story of a yearling…

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