Wandering through the shopping centre the other day, intent on getting out as quickly as possible, I saw from the corner of my eye a couple standing in the home wares shop. The reason they caught my eye was the way they were standing. The gent was clearly bored or agitated—he was not closely involved in whatever was happening in the store. His partner had found a salad bowl that she liked, and, having picked up the salad utensils meant to complement it, was tossing an imaginary salad.
This wouldn’t have warranted a double take if it weren’t for how intent she was on this ephemeral dish. It was clear that the salad held great importance for her.
What was she envisioning as she intently practiced the invisible salad toss? Was she imagining herself hosting a midsummer Sunday lunch, surrounded by friends, bottles of chilled Riesling, with a beautiful Caesar salad in her spectacular new designer bowl? Perhaps she was determined to convince her partner to invest in the hypothetical world in which they owned a beautiful salad receptacle, and the good times that such ownership would entail…
It doesn’t matter—we’ll never know. The point is she was creating a narrative in her head that was fuelled by and hinged on the prospect of a purchase. Something about the utensil had engaged her desire for a story that she felt she could identify with.
They bought the bowl. And the utensils.
This is the power of the narrative. Engage your audience with a story that speaks to their desires, that presents a human element they can identify with and project a part of themselves into. Suddenly, they switch from an indifferent punter to being an emotionally engaged customer. Your customer.