BUSINESS MARKETING: The bedtime story presentation

2013-03-30T10:57:00Z BUSINESS MARKETING: The bedtime story presentationLarry Galler Times Business Columnist nwitimes.com
March 30, 2013 10:57 am  • 

One of the joys of being a parent (and now a grandparent) is telling bedtime stories.

As a child ages and grows, the stories we read and tell become more sophisticated, introducing life lessons within the story. Some of these life lessons are retained in the memory and as they accumulate, become the basis for helping a child build their future as an adult.

Interestingly, in business, the same process applies when a “bedtime story presentation” is used.

The salesperson tells a success story in a problem/solution/benefits/results format.

The manager and trainer tells stories in a “here’s why/here’s how/here’s what is expected/here’s what happens when it’s done right (or wrong)” scenario.

The strategist tells a story in a “current situation/desired future situation/what needs to be done to get from here to there” progression of thought.

Stories are more easily imagined by naive or less sophisticated listeners, and they can communicate emotions (relief, joy, sadness, distress, love, fear, etc.) while facts and figures are cold and analytical.

Think of a meeting where engineers, architects, contractors and surveyors discuss the cold, analytical, highly technical facts and figures of designing a building to withstand extreme forces of hurricanes, tornados, snow loads on roofs, or the groundshaking effects of an earthquake. That’s fine and necessary. Those people are comfortable and familiar with this type of challenge where measurements and calculations are critically relevant.

Contrast this meeting with one involving financing the building or justifying the costs to potential renters where a modified story of “The Three Little Pigs” might better illustrate the situation to untechnical people – “he huffed and puffed until he blew the house down.”

Technical terms can often be more easily comprehended, especially if those listeners will then need to communicate those facts to others (“so do you remember the story of 'The Three Little Pigs'?”).

It might take a little “huffing and puffing,” but the better you understand your audience’s needs, the easier it will be to convince them.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Get Galler’s Free Case Studies of small business transformed by a breakthrough strategies. Just email larry@larrygaller.com put "Case Study" in the subject line.

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