The sign explicitly said “no pictures” and I may or may not have still tried to snap one.
I had noticed something very special about this painting.
It wasn’t the painting itself, but rather, the little hand-written card behind it, that said:
‘Previous owner: Lombardini. Italian shoe-maker & artist. Believer in lust as much as love. Greatest obsession: Brave truths. Happiest when: Painting humanity on Tuscany’s hills. Favorite thing to do on Sunday: drinking Sangiovese & reading a sinful little book in the sunshine. Kept this painting in his library where, oh so many, secrets were shared, parties held with limoncello and cigars.”
Suddenly I didn’t care how much this painting cost! I wanted it more than anything in the world. I must have it!. Because now, it is not just a painting, it’s a desire.
Now, imagine the same painting with only a price tag. Would it awaken the same desire?
The problem isn’t the cost—the problem is that there’s no context for the cost. Because anyone can get a painting for $50 at Ikea, so why spend $500?
The answer: Because of context. Because where you have context, you have meaning. And where you have meaning, there’s emotion. And then there is desire, and where there’s desire, there are sales.
What you are selling is never as important as the reason someone is buying it.
So, unless you discovered a breakthrough or never seen, technology, chances are there is someone else out there selling the same product/service.
The way you sell something is far more important than what you’re selling. That means that the biggest competitive advantage you have isn’t what you’re selling; it’s HOW you’re selling it & what you say about the product or service description, the way you present your “about us” page or how & why the company started. Most product descriptions, however, make the mistake of doing just that: Describing the actual product/service.
But guess what?
Simply describing the product does nothing to sell the product.
The customer doesn’t care if it’s a machine-washable shirt; if it’s something he desperately wants, he’ll send it to Nepal to be hand-washed by monks, if necessary. But first, your client has to desperately want it. And one of the best ways to inspire that feeling in your customers is not to describe the product; it’s to describe who they’ll be with the product.
Make them envision and picture. Get them all tingly inside just thinking about the possibilities.
I’m betting you suddenly want a Panama Hat.
What other companies would have said:
5 pocket, low-rise jeans in washed stretch denim with slim legs and button fly (taken from an actual H&M product description)
What they said instead:
Because those are not product descriptions, those are designed to tell a story, a story of a future you with that product, stories that sell.
If you want to stand out, feel fresh, stay interesting and get noticed, you need to know how to tell the story of your brand, product or service.
You have to use language that stands out, feels fresh, is interesting and gets noticed.
It’s tempting and easy to use the first words that come to your mind, but those are the last words that will make you stand out in your clients’ eyes.
It’s not just about being unique and reinvent the wheel. It’s about finding a unique way to tell your story.
All of your competitors are talking about those same advantages on their website, so you become indistinguishable in the eyes of prospective clients and you’re forcing them to pick based on some arbitrary detail.
Personality is the major difference between nice vs. obsessed over, iconic vs. ordinary.
And often, it’s the difference between getting someone’s attention–or not.
What you say about it. How you position its use. How you describe something. How you tell your story. The curiosity, the anticipation, the desire you create. And make no mistake—what you say about something isn’t just a description, it IS the product, it IS the service. Because your words co-create a reality for the client.
Make sure your business has an opinion, contributes to the conversation, proves itself, and actually becomes interesting. In 4 words, has a good STORY.