Here’s a headline you don’t see every day:
How A Startup Grew 600 Percent By Telling The Story Behind Products
I’d call this an endorsement for the power of storytelling.
The article captures the essence of AHALife and its founder Shauna Mei.
Her team of curators travel the world looking for cool stuff that you won’t find stocked at the local mall.
Like a yak scarf.
More than finding extraordinary goods by traipsing across the world, AHALife tells the stories behind these goods.
Or, to be precise, a scarf made of yak khullu, the wool that a baby yak sheds in the second year.
Which brings me to the point.
Such storytelling gives the shopper a sense of discovery.
A couple of Mei’s takes could be applied to any communications function:
“It’s very important to hear where someone gets their start from and where the inspiration started. Every time a designer comes in I ask where they are from and where they studied. It’s not just about their product. It’s what got you to the product too.”
Whether interviewing the CEO or a scientist in the bowels of R&D, asking about his or her background can be revealing, not to mention an effective ice-breaker.
I also agree with Mei’s point that documenting the process from “creating to manufacturing, packaging and selling” provides fodder for storytelling.
“You might not think this is interesting, but people who buy for quality really care about the process. Our customers care about a certain workmanship and quality with their purchases.”
While the perspective comes from a consumer orientation, I would argue the same holds true in the B2B world. It doesn’t matter whether you make software for the data center or semiconductor capital equipment, taking customers/prospects behind the scenes to the source of inspiration cultivates a connection.
I’ve discussed how Groupon has embraced storytelling as a differentiator, but there’s something fresh about AHALife.
I suspect I’ll be spending more time on the site and will dutifully report back.
Just don’t expect me to shell out 1,100 bucks for the yak shawl, even if it is softer than cashmere.