This is part II/II. Read Part I here.

Show How Customers’ Situations “Change”

Users don’t buy ‘value propositions’; they buy something bigger that helps them in their lives.

The most important part of a story, therefore, is showing how the hero/protagonist of the story changes. What can your customer do now because of your product or service that he/she could not do before? That’s story rocket fuel. Your product or service must make your customer look good – they are the hero; your service becomes the important, supporting sidekick!


No one needs your product or service. Start thinking bigger than your product by focusing on what people really want: time, freedom, success, recognition, enhanced reputation, self-reliance, stability, belonging, safety, reduced risk, acceptance, security, credibility, for example. Go beyond the superficial answers of saving money and the importance of convenience. Rather, think about Abraham Maslow’s famous ‘Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid. People have human motivations for buying things.


What people really buy, then, is hope of improvement. While saving money can be a valid economic ‘value proposition,’ more often there are much more important human motivations driving customer purchasing behavior: increased credibility, enhanced reputation, recognition, security, etc. Under every economic driver is a big human need. Find it and tell that story. When you make marketing about features, you miss the opportunity to connect with people at a visceral level. A great story, however, helps prospects and customers envision ‘what could be’ because of your offerings. Hope matters.

And, while not every company is saving lives, you don’t have to be in order to claim real value. You must aim for credibility, however. Great stories are built on truth. And if you are in need of inspiration, ask customers, “How did we make your life better?” Make stories personal. The best product stories are.

Here’s a brief example applying the model to ‘Company X’:

Once upon a time, Bob, a company owner, kept numerous files in a number of locations.
And every day, he updated information in many places because he did not have the data in one secure place to work remotely. It was a huge pain – taking time and resources. Bob tried everything he could to find a solution until he couldn’t take it anymore.

Then one day, a friend introduced Bob to Company X’s cloud-based data services.
Because of that, Bob could securely access data anywhere, anytime wherever he was.
Because of that, he was able to get more work done quickly and easily and without worrying about compromising data security. He didn’t have to choose between security and access.

And every day since that day, Bob’s organization uses Company X because the ability to access data ‘anytime anywhere’ securely has reduced his risk, ensured data freedom and security, and freed up his time to do what does best: run his business and spend time with his family – not with his IT department.

What Happens Next?

The beauty about this model is that it moves through the most important parts of a story to answer the critical question, “what happens next?” until we are able to tell *how* the customer’s situation has changed. We must end every story showing how the customer is better off in economic and human terms.

People Buy Change, Not ‘Products’

Company X delivers its service via the cloud; yet, no one needs cloud-based services. Cloud is how Company X delivers its services. What matters is that the product allows users to do something (bigger than the product) that they could not do before. In this case, Company X enables information freedom, simplicity, security and freed-up time. Your product story is always about the people who use what you sell and how their lives are better. Stories have capital precisely because they show customers how their lives will be different.

Elevate your marketing. Products come and go; a deep commitment to changing customers’ lives for the better – something bigger than any company – is a purpose that provides meaning. That’s the change your stories must focus on if they are to resonate emotionally with your audience, be memorable, and create compelling calls to action.

That’s my story. What’s yours? Email: Kathy (at) keepingithuman (dot) com

Read Part I here.

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