Storytelling vs Facts – Which Emerges Victorious?

Date PublishedNovember 25, 2013
CompanyResponsive Direct Marketing
Article AuthorTroy White
Article TypePULSE Interactive Newsletter Nov. 2013
HUB SEARCHResponsiveDirect
PULSE Interactive

Storytelling vs Facts – Which Emerges Victorious?

Carnegie Mellon Says Stories Sell in B2B

Carnegie Mellon did a fascinating study on the power of storytelling vs hard core fact/benefit selling in sales efforts.

The first test they ran involved a sales letter promoting a non-profit. The people involved received 2 versions of the sales letter.

One version told a heart wrenching story about a girl that lived in the 3rd world country… the other shared the facts on what dismal living conditions the people lived in, the numbers of them without fresh water, without food, etc.

Then they measured how much each of the test groups donated to each letter. The letter sold 118% more with the story based letter.

Then they tested an approach that used BOTH story and facts in the same letter. ‘Logic’ would say that using both story and facts in the same letter would appeal to the analytical buyers and more emotional buyers all at once.

You’d think it would improve results… but it did the opposite. It did sell more than the pure facts approach (25.4% increase), but it sold 39.9% less than the pure story approach.

So story definitely sells far better than the facts based approach.

The lesson? Sales and marketing campaigns based on emotional stories will outperform anything else.

Having a great signature story in your marketing campaigns will improve your results…I guarantee it. I’ve helped my clients generate millions of dollars in new found revenues with personality and story-driven marketing.

The 5 keys to making measurable story-based marketing work for you:

  1. Bury your ego. It will also scream at you for trying unusual ideas in your marketing. Your ego is wrong – the numbers are ALL that matter and the only way you can get those numbers is to ignore the ego and test those ideas.
  2. Use themes in your marketing. Unusual themes. Wild West Themes. Peanut Butter and Jelly Themes. Dog Days Themes. You name it – use it. Your first reaction will be, “how unprofessional”. Your second reaction after testing it, “surprisingly profitable!”. I see it time and time again.
  3. differentMulti-step campaigns ALWAYS outperform one-off campaigns. 3 steps should be your minimum. If doing direct mail – space them out about 7-10 days apart (and yes, direct mail is working fantastic these days). Email campaigns should be done every second day or so.
  4. Personality and story driven campaigns only. No speeds and feeds garbage (where you talk only about the wonderful features of your product or service). Talk about why you started your business, talk about your failures along the way, talk about your wife, husband, kids and pets. THAT is how you stand out in the clutter. (One lead generation campaign I did for a company in Calgary was sent out to senior purchasers of the largest companies in town. The buyers had never heard of this company before. We avoided the typical nonsense that most do – and did a simple 2 page, black and white letter, talking about his wife and kids, and the challenges of business in Calgary at the time. We got an 18% response rate from that letter – and a dozen THANK YOU letters from the purchasing managers. They thanked US for marketing to them with personality. Something they had rarely seen in their business.)
  5. Be prolific. Don’t try this once and give up. Be and think like a marketer! Always be looking out for innovative marketing ideas and take massive action on getting them implemented once you come up with them.

Trust the numbers – and the only way you get those is to TEST these kind of marketing campaigns!

Have fun, and be different.

Troy White

Calgary based entrepreneur with over 23 years of sales and marketing experience