"People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them.
I had this proven to me all over again when people actually stopped me in the street (in New York, in Tokyo, in London) to ask me where I got the coat I was wearing.
So many people tried to buy my coat off my back that I've started a small company to make them available. It seems like everybody (well, not everybody) has always wanted a classic horseman's duster but never knew exactly where to get one.
I ran a little ad in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal and in a few months sold this wonderful coat in cities all over the country and to celebrities and to a mysterious gentleman in Japan who ordered two thousand of them.
Well, the coat is magnificent. Simple, functional, handsome, extremely well made, affordable and, yes, romantic.
I think that giant American Corporations should start asking themselves if the things they make are really, I mean really, better than the ordinary.
Clearly, people want things that make their lives the way they wish they were."


--J. Peterman

J. Peterman customers aren’t just buying a shirt or a frock, they’re buying something to make their own story less ordinary.

How To Tell Your Own Story
Many companies tell the details they hope will win business the way a prisoner gives up a “name, rank and serial number.” Others drone on about things their customers could care less about. Clearly, it’s easy to go wrong with storytelling.

  • Tell your story from the customer’s perspective. Whether you’re doing an About Us page or writing catalog copy, think about the problem the customer is trying to solve. Message to market match is crucial, your copy must demonstrate your knowledge of the customer’s world view.
  • Drama, action, romance, challenges overcome. All those elements which make for the storylines you enjoy work to hold the reader’s interest long enough to tell your full story. An experiment also showed people remember details in story form much longer than other forms.
  • People tell the stories they like. Story-based copywriting is especially effective on the web, where people link to things they like and shun blatantly self-serving hucksterism. People will link, refer, and repeat a good story.


Do You Have An Interesting Story Buried In Your Business?
Almost every business has a great story. Often it gets buried in policy, procedure, features, and buzzwords. The first place to start is with your Unique Selling Proposition. The USP isn’t a story, but it can be the differentiator your stories should center on telling.

And building a USP requires building some competitive advantage, the very thing you’ll want to tell customers about in your story.

Imagine your company as a superhero, with your service or product as your "super power." The basic storyline starts with you swooping in to save the customer from the status quo of your industry. Apply the Purple Cow to Your Storytelling puts a modern spin on the USP.

Most companies are going to "wimp out" on their super power. So I want you to study the example of what a super power looks like.

Terrabite lounge "....sells coffee drinks, pastries, and sandwiches based entirely on the honor system. Yep, there are no prices for anything Terra Bite Lounge serves customers. The expectation is that customers will voluntarily pay whatever amount they feel comfortable paying."

This takes a page right out of Purple Cow and Freakonomics. And if it doesn't frighten the competition -- the villian of the piece -- it is not a super power. I'm fairly sure Terrabite is going to have its share of drama and challenges.

While the buzzword crowd and the image conscious are trying to look like Darth Vader, Terrabite can set itself up as the underdog.