The Psychology Of Business Storytelling And How To Educate Your Customers


When Tommy Hilfiger was launching his first ad campaign via a billboard thanks to George Lois and Tommy’s partner at the time, he may not have known that his audacious self promotion of himself versus three of the most popular American menswear designers would turn into such a classic example of bravado and customer education. Tommy Hilfiger’s ad not only made a statement, it taught the public that there was another trusted brand in menswear even they did not know it yet.

We like to buy from vendors that we trust. Trust comes from knowledge. We do not trust people or businesses we do not know. The more a buyer knows, the easier it is to spend. This is one reason why infomercials are so successful. They spend a lot of time telling you who, why, what, how and where you can buy their products.

In marketing, education always wins.

This works for healthcare as well as it does in the entertainment and even the retail industry. It is more than likely that you shop at retailers that you are more familiar with than those that you hardly see or hear about. Those who say advertising will cease to exist do not understand human nature. Think of your favorite musician or group.

After you came to like their music, you decided to find out more about them and can probably mention the names of all of their albums. This goes for sports teams and athletes as well. The more we know about them, the more we deify them.
One of the best books on this topic was written by Ogilvy on AdvertisingDavid Ogilvy

Customer education defines the psychology of business storytelling.

The caveat here is that all knowledge is not created equal. Knowledge that we deem as acceptable, favorable or beneficial to us usually holds sway over our decisions. That detergent brand that tells you that Hydrogen Chloride was used in making their products may not cause you to whip out your wallet as easily as their competitor who tells you that they are using natural chemicals that make your clothes looking and smelling whiter, brighter and fresher.

See what I did there? The former was educating on features, the latter on benefits. The former was stating what is unique about them, the latter is stating how their uniqueness is going to impact the client’s life.

How to educate your customers

Start off by making at least 90% of the information about them. Speak to their needs and tell them exactly how your product or service is beneficial to them. If you do not know what benefit your product provides then your customers will not know either. There are qualitative and quantitative benefits. In my practice I may use quantitative measures by saying “I will help you set up recurring income systems that will increase your revenue by 15% in the next 2 months.”

For qualitative I may say “ I will implement 4 marketing strategies that will give you peace of mind and allow you to be able to take one extra week of vacation time this year.” Some businesses thrive better with qualitative over quantitative education.

Nike could sell you on the quality of the rubber soles and the toughness of their padding but it’s more effective for them to sell buyers on how their shoes will help you to be more athletic just like the high jumping, fast running athletes in their ads. I often joke about how hardly anyone knows how many megapixels their smartphone’s camera has because phones are sold more as lifestyle staples than gadgets for techies. The same goes for cars.

I would like to add that even if you cannot find something overtly beneficial to say, you can share awesome facts. Remember this?

At the time, no one was so boldly saying you could hold 30,000 songs in your pocket Information that wows people is good because it will spread by word of mouth faster and more organically.

Another example is in gaming. When I first heard that the Witcher 3 was made by a team, the quarter of the size of their competitors, I was intrigued. I also heard about how their budget was smaller and yet created an RPG that would take at least 200 hours to complete because of how deep it is. There may be other RPG’s that are better but they have not bothered to educate me.


Tell your customers over and over again the following without being boring or overly technical. The better teacher will win even if she is selling something boring. Who would have thought a junk of metal sitting on four rubber tires could be seen as a collectible?

Why you are in the business of retail, food, real estate, fashion, computers, technology et cetera– What opportunities do you have a unique skill set for? Tell us

What you love about your job, products, industry– Share the emotional highlights and why you love going to work every day. This will also attract the right talent.

Your opinions, vision, mission, ideas, concepts and insights. —If growing up near a rice farm gives you a unique insight into Asian cuisine then please go ahead and share.

What products and services are available?— Tell your prospects about all your products. Variety to some people is a sign of how big your operation is and might build trust.

What the benefits of doing business with you are?…

Where they can buy your products–Educate the public on when, where and how your products are distributed.

What materials went into the making of your furniture? –Talk about the grain, the weight, the source, the durability, how it fits into the customer’s lifestyle.

Who else buys your cars and is happy with them–Get testimonials of your clients even if it’s just one person.

How long it takes you to make that shoe, widget, application product and so on.

What happens behind the scenes? Do you have photos, journals, videos or info graphics to share?

Remember, the better teacher will attract more eyeballs and listeners.
Are there any other ways to educate your customers that you recommend? Please share below.

Book Recommendation
David Ogilvy’s Ogilvy on AdvertisingOgilvy On Advertising

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