Thursday, April 14, 2011

Machismo On Wheels

For years, I have been explaining to business owners and executives an astonishly simple concept.

"He with the best story wins".

When it comes to the discipline known as branding, thoughtful and creative storytelling will far outweigh features, advantages and benefits of any product or service in any category or market segment. Imaginative, right-brain, entreprenurial types latch on to this concept immediately. Numbers-driven, left-brain, tight-asses will struggle to understand.

But, even the most logical, analytical, rational and sequential thinker will make the connection between the power of a story and its ability to drive customers to your dorr or website. The latest example of how this works comes from a Kijiji ad trying to unload a 1998 weather-beaten beater (pictured above)that has seen its best days. Since being made aware of this ad on Monday, another 10,000 plus hits have been generated by a "story" that is generating incredible interest and demand for a product that, from a rational logical point of view, does not deserve all this attention.

But, customers are emotional creatures with passions and interests that can suddenly be inspired by the power of the written word and the energy it communicates. Here is how this particular ad reads:

"OK, let me start off by saying this Impreza is only available for purchase by the manliest of men (or women). My friend, if it was possible for a vehicle to sprout chest hair and a five o'clock shadow, this Subaru would look like Tom Selleck. It is just that manly.

It was never intended to drive to the mall so you can pick up that adorable shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch that you had your eye on. It wasn't meant to transport you to yoga class or Bed Bath and Beyond. No, that's what your Prius is for. If that's the kind of car you're looking for, then just do us all a favor and stop reading right now. This car has been to hell and back, twice, and has the scars to prove it. So if you can't handle being seen behind the wheel of this biblical, fire breathing, dragon slaying, nazi killing hero because it has a few purle hearts, move on.

This wagon was engineered by 3rd degree ninja pirate super-warriors in the highest mountains of Japan to serve the needs of the man that cheats death on a daily basis. They didn't even consider superfluous nancy boy amenities like navigation systems (real men don't get lost), heated leather seats (a real man doesn't let anything warm his butt), or On Star (real men don't even know what On Star is).

No, this brute comes with the things us testosterone-fueled super action junkies need. It has a 137 HP engine to outrun the cops and a 5 speed tranmission so you know grandma wont be taking off with it when your not looking. It's saved my bacon more than once. It's got special blood/gore resistant upholstery. It even has a first-aid kit in the back. You know what the first aid kit has in it? A pint of whiskey, a stitch-your-own-wound kit and a hunk of leather to bite down on when you're operating on yourself.

My price on this bad boy is an incredibly low $2000 but I'll entertain reasonable offers. And by reasonable, I mean don't walk up and tell me you'll give me $500 for it. That's liable to earn you a Burmese-roundhouse-sphincter-kick with a follow up three fingered eye-jab. Would it hurt? Hell yeah. Let's just say you won't be the prettiest guy at the Coldplay concert anymore.

There's only 183 000 km's on this all-wheel drive hellcat from Planet Kickass. Trust me, it will outlive you and the offspring that will carry your name. It will live on as a monument to your machismo.

Now, go look in the mirror and tell me what you see. If it's a rugged, no holds barred, super brute he-man macho Chuck Norris stunt double, then reply to this ad. I might be out hang-gliding or BASE jumping or just chilling with my lady, but leave a message and I'll get back to you. And when I do, we'll talk about a price over a nice glass of Schmidt while we listen to Johnny Cash.

It passed its last e-test and safety with flying colours but is being sold as-is.

God bless"

When you were growing up and getting tucked into bed, you yearned to hear a good story. It didn't matter if it came from a children's book or Mom and Dad's memory of their own childhood, we all loved hearing stories and telling our own. No kid ever goes to bed at night demanding to know the "facts". But as we became older we were taught serious people rely on hard numbers, solid information, sound logic and the voice of reason supported by accurate data. This, despite the "fact", that statistics are frequently used to tell lies in the business world with accounting reports often doctored like Doolittle. How do you spell E-n-r-o-n?

There will never be any dispute from this corner of the ring that "facts" are necessary, however, when the focus turns to the subject of branding, the power of "story" wins every time. And the best brands in the world, rely on effective storytelling to sell you things like $5 dollar lattes to sip on while you wear your best Armani suit as you text on your iPhone while climbing into your BMW.

But, that's not the type of customer who is actually going to man up and respond to the Kijiji ad that inspired this post.

How many of you believe the guy who placed the ad will not only be able to sell his much-ballyhooed beast of a car, but also fetch his asking price without being nickel-and-dimed by some price sensitive, bargain-hunting, coupon-clipping, knuckle-dragging penny-pincher?

Can you also picture what this level of storytelling would do to help your products and services into the grateful hands of the perfect customers? Those are the customers you dream about most, the one armed and ready with cold hard cash and soft Coldplay hearts.

Just like any crowded, competitive business category, there are thousands of other used cars for sale on Kijiji.

Only one, however, offers a riveting tale of world-class machismo on wheels.

A compelling saga that made what could have been an otherwise ordinary ad go viral.

Is there something your brand can adapt from this story?

In other words, does your business have a story you can win with?

"People are not inspired to act on reason alone. The key is to unite an idea with an emotion, which is best done through story. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also arouse your listener's emotion and energy"

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Daniel said...

Nice post Gair, as always. Didn't mention it before but I really like the new look and feel of the blog!

Marcel said...

Great post, probably one of my favorites!