I was hanging out at Johnny’s, one of the local gathering places in my home of Carrboro, NC, on Saturday when I noticed that the woman working at one of the farmers’ market booth behind me was trying get my attention. “Do you want to buy some beef?” she was asking.
Now, typically when I am sitting in the very hot late morning sun of Carrboro watching my kids play, buying a slab of beef is not something you would have much chance of convincing me to do. Not even the grass-fed, organic, hand-fanned and fly-swatted variety this woman was selling. But then – whether intentionally or intuitively – she did something that every good salesperson or marketer needs to be able to do: she told a story that hooked me.
It wasn’t a long or complex story. Basically, it amounted to: “The woman at the booth beside me bought some of this chuck last week, marinated it in lime and salt, and served it up to her friends. Said it was dee-licious.”
That’s it. But here’s what made it stick:
Her story was short, but with a few words she turned the generic idea of “beef” into something that I could smell and taste – and she tugged at some emotional strings in the process: “a delicious dinner for friends.” Doesn’t that sound nice.
This one of the “weapons” highlighted by Robert Cialdini in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (a must read). Someone else had bought some of the product and testified to its goodness. The woman at the next booth had already packed up and left, but I had seen her around before, and she seemed like a reliable sort, the kind of person who would not lightly praise a piece of meat.
Lime. That’s what really hooked me. I just don’t tend to think of lime when I think of meat. To borrow a concept from the Heath Brothers’ Made to Stick (another must read) the association violated my expectations, but in a way that made me curious and eager to fill in a knowledge gap. I had to try out beef marinated in lime.
That’s how simple – and yet, how rich – this brief interaction was. As a result of it, I walked away with 10 bucks worth of chuck.
She socked me with a lime. I never saw it coming, but I was happy to have it happen: the meal was, in fact, dee-licious.
What limes are you using to sock your customers or members?