How to Tell Your Story and Increase Sales

When you want to be successful, you do what successful people do. Advertising giant David Ogilvy read one book at least seven times, and he recommended that everyone in advertising do the same. That book is Scientific Advertising, by Claude C. Hopkins.

Marketing wizard Jay Abraham said, “Claude Hopkins is the master of them all. His influence has easily added over $6m to my personal income…and still counting.” How is it that a guy who lived 80+ years ago is still the guru of top marketers?

Hopkins was a true advertising pioneer of the early 1900s – an innovative genius. He’ s the guy who created free sampling, risk-free trials, money-back guarantees and market testing. Rather than just place an ad and “see how it went,” Hopkins measured everything.

One of his most powerful strategies for creating business for clients is now called “the pre-emptive strike.” Hopkins never called it that, though. He just called it “telling the story.”

For example, here’s what Hopkins did for Van Camps’ pork and beans. Hopkins carried out his scientific research and learned that 94% of housewives were baking their own beans, a process that took about 16 hours from beginning to end. Hopkins realized that no one was telling the housewives about the benefits they’d get from buying pork and beans in a can – namely, more time and better pork and beans.

Hopkins ran a campaign that explained all this. He pointed out how much time it took to make beans at home and described how disappointing the results were. Usually the beans on top were burned, while the ones underneath got mushy. Hopkins also told the story of Van Camps’ beans – the process for selecting their beans, the soft water they used, and the steam ovens and sealed containers that kept in the flavor.

Here’s the thing. All the manufacturers of canned pork and beans made their beans this way. But because Van Camps was the first to tell the story of how canned pork and beans are made, the Van Camps name came to mean “pork and beans” to consumers. After that “pre-emptive strike,” any other manufacturer that tried to tell that story would just look like an imitator. That’s one reason Van Camps’ pork and beans are still around today.

So what’s your story? Maybe you think to yourself, “Those were pork and beans. My business is different.” Well, so is selling beer.

When Claude Hopkins began work on the Schlitz Beer campaign, Schlitz was ranked 5th in its share of the market. All the companies claimed that their brand of beer was “pure,” and consumers yawned, until Hopkins told the story that explained what “pure” really meant. When Hopkins told the story – of beer dripping over pipes in plate glass rooms of filtered air, bottles that were sterilized four times, and the cleanest water drawn from 4,000 foot deep artesian wells – his campaign took Schlitz from being ranked 5th to being the number 1 beer, in just a few months.

Again, what’s your story? What is the process or benefit that you take for granted? What do you assume everybody knows? Tell the story of how your family business began. Tell the story of how you make what you make. Tell what it was like to take the risk, leave that secure office job, and go out on your own as an entrepreneur, all because you believe in what you sell. What Claude Hopkins learned from his results was this: If you open up and tell the story of whatever you sell, then your prospects will buy.