The power of a great story

Picture 13.png Shortly before Christmas last year, I needed a new watch. It was time to step up to a “big boy watch”, forsaking the $100 jobs I’d been used to. Since this was likely to be a large purchase, I started searching the Web. I found a number of fantastic watches, each of them with a great story.The WWII Soviet watch on eBay, for example, wasn’t functional, but holy cow did it have a great story! But yeah, actually being able to report time seemed like a major criteria, so I headed to the jewelry store.

When I started shopping, I didn’t have much interest in brands, and certainly didn’t know the difference between Breitling, Omega, Tag Heuer, or Rolex. Regardless of quality or even style, I couldn’t really get excited about spending money on “just a watch”. So I told the salesman that I wanted a watch with a story. He showed me the Omega Speedmaster and told me that it was the first and only watch worn on the moon. Sold!

Well, not quite. I left the store without the Speedmaster, but lusting after it nonetheless. I went home and checked online to see if this story was correct; according to the Omega Web site, it sure was. But their own excitement about this story was, as you can see, less than compelling.

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But after a few days, I realized I’d been talking all about this watch to friends and family. I was telling the story of this watch over and over again.. and I didn’t even own it. The depth of the story was selling me.

Christmas morning, I was overjoyed to find the Speedmaster under the tree. I couldn’t wait to learn more about the story of this watch timepiece. But in the box was literally nothing related to the story. Not one mention of its history and barely anything about its functions. (Although the manual was translated into 753 languages… gee thanks, that’s helpful)

But this watch’s story was so easy to share, that I found myself sharing it. Bragging about my new present, sure. But it was also about space, watches, the design style of the 1960s.

Stories are not just about the person tell it though, they’re also about what happens when someone hears it. Like my father-in-law who sent me the photo below from the Houston Space Center museum on his recent vacation trip. The story I told him about the watch, my passion at the time, provided context for him to both understand my passion and be on the lookout for it in the future.

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There are two key lessons to learn from this experience:

1. Providing a story about your product makes it easier for people to talk about your product. If this was just a nice watch, how would I show it off without looking like a jackass? When I can talk about the story, it’s much easier.

2. Stories explain passion. It’s easy to understand why I’m excited about a watch, and it’s easy to create a reason for people to be on the lookout for the Omega brand if those people understand why I’m so excited.

It’s incredibly disappointing that Omega is overlooking such a great opportunity to let their customers tell great stories about this product, or I assume the rest of their product line.

Maybe that’s a good thing though… I don’t have to share this story with anyone!