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Tell Me A Story

Modo Modo Agency

December 25, 2008

People often speak of marketing storytelling…which is a great idea as long as you’re not making something up. My Mom used to quote Ethel Merman with “You gotta have a gimmick.” Nobody wants to be fed a line of nonsense, but real stories stick with you.

There is usually something interesting, inspiring, crazy or unforgettable about any venture that gets conceived and off the ground. If you’re looking to get some extra traction, think about your company or products back-story. When people are overwhelmed with messages, they may not remember the thread count of your cotton but they might remember if it’s spun on the looms of Nordic princesses.

This past month I had a stopover in the airport in Switzerland. I was struck by how EXACTLY the mountains look like the picture on a packet of Swiss Miss. Walking through the airport it is impossible to miss that timepieces and chocolate are a huge driver of the Swiss economy. I was struck by the fine, clean design of all the souvenirs, including every possible item with the unmistakable white cross on red. I wanted to buy something, but I just wasn’t moved enough.

I then picked up a beautiful item, enquired about pricing, and was told that there was “a story that came with the item.” Bonus. These beautiful wool bags and pouches were unique. Double-bonus. And, the story pertains to recycling. In this day and age, that’s the be all and end all.

A man had found a stockpiled stash of Swiss Army blankets from the war.

Swiss Army Blanket

In a small shop in the sleepy village of Torbel, with six local women, they cut the wool from the blankets and began producing the most gorgeous items.

Törbel Handbag

It’s been three weeks and while I’ve forgotten the key chains, pens, watches, handcrafted goods, chocolate and every other piece of European art and textile I saw on my trip, I have not forgotten the bag…or the story. Facts and features are forgettable but stories stick in somewhere else. They have those emotional and artistic arms and legs that get hung up in the recall mechanism.

Truth in advertising insists that marketing not obscure, evade or mislead buyers. Even more than providing for a moral code, it also encourages us to dig deeper for the humanity, intrigue, mystery and romance in our story.

Here’s to a 2009 filled with unforgettable stories about the pursuit and passion that every entrepreneur pours into their beloved business. Happy Holidays everyone.