Either you’re going to tell stories that spread, or you will become irrelevant.

Seth Godin


Catch me on 3Talk this Wednesday night on SABC3, we’ll be doing what humans always do when they get together – sharing stories.


If you’re in business your success depends on the stories your customers tell about you. Today’s article come from my book the Astonishing Power of Story, enjoy!


What’s your story?




Motivational Speaker and Author




Spread the story


Over 50% of all buying decisions are made after hearing a story from a satisfied customer. Your profitability depends on the stories your customers tell about you.


Hey, did I tell you about this hotel I stayed in when I was last in Cape Town? It’s called ‘Extreme Hotel’ everything about it is extreme. As you walk in there’re these massive chandeliers hoisted to the ceiling with climbing rope. Walk into one lift and it’s decked out as a divers cage with sharks bashing their noses through the bars. The other lift makes you feel like you’re in a cable car going up table mountain. And the toilets are all themed differently, one is called stage fright, the whole bathroom is painted with an audience of people looking at you while you do your business. The smoking area is called the ‘coff’n room’ get it ‘coughing – coffin room’. You sit on a big white leather topped coffin, you look up and the ceiling is painted with all these people looking down, crying into your grave.’


Think you might want to try Extreme Hotel Cape Town?


The success of our business depends on the kinds of stories our customers tell about us. Great stories take you by surprise. If every hotel looked like Extreme Hotel, there’d be no story. If you want people’s attention you’ve got to give them something different. You can do it through exceptional customer service, notice the word ‘exceptional’, that means giving them a surprise, like sending a hand written thank you note. Often it happens when something goes wrong, when we don’t get what we expect.


I haven’t told you about my LG laptop. I bought it because they’re really good PC’s, nonsense, like all of us I bought the story, ‘LG, Life’s good’ I love that story.  Problem was just about every day the laptop would just shut it’s self down, what ever I was working on – gone. I took it in five times they couldn’t fix the problem. Eventually I said guys please I need you to replace the computer. ‘Sorry’, they said, ‘it’s too near to the end of the guarantee.’


‘But the guarantee’s still valid?’ I said.


‘Yes but it’s too near the end.’


Huh? What, like my guarantee just entered old age, so it can’t do the things it used to?’ Life’s good? No, Life’s gone. Work gone, guarantee gone, laptop gone – thrown off high-rise building. That’s the kind of story you don’t want your customers telling.


Things can go wrong. Most stories are about things going wrong. And that’s your opportunity. When something goes wrong, you get the chance to be a hero.


Imagine LG had replaced the laptop and sent me a hand written card to apologize for the inconvenience along with a R50 voucher for any other LG product? They would have sold an extra product, kept me as a life-long customer, and I would’ve had the best kind of adversity story to tell, one with a happy ending, one that would no doubt have won them a whole lot more LG customers. You can screw up, just give them a happy ending, that turns them into marketing story tellers for you.

Conventional advertising is also story telling. The problem is people say they only believe about 7% of what adverts tell them. We don’t want to hear from the guy who gets paid to say how great you are, we want to hear from the guy who pays you. Remember, at least 50% of our buying decisions are made after hearing a story from a satisfied customer. Here is a simple recipe to get great stories.


1)    Be great. There’s no replacement for excellence.


2)    Give them a memorable story. Do something different.


3)    After they’ve told you how great you are, ask for a written testimonial.


4)    Keep the stories alive. Send them to prospects and clients. Stick them up in your foyer. Put them on your website.




Above all, go back to number 1, be great, when you’re great they’ll be telling those stories for you!


Justin Cohen is a professional speaker and author of nine books. For more information go to www.justinpresents.com