picking grapes

As a crackerjack communications consultant, I’d like to imagine that I have a certain amount of professional immunity to the tricks of marketing. As someone who knows mechanics of how it works, I should be able to see through marketing and maintain a bit of distance, right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

I was on the obligatory Wine Country tour with my visiting family. The wineries I picked for our tour included the family-owned Robledo Family Winery, which I’d discovered in a recipe-packed magazine article about how the matriarch still cooks Sunday dinner for the entire family.

This winery was absolutely adorable—and absolutely brilliant! Walking through the door was like walking into the family’s dining room. We were greeted by one of seven family members who run the place, taking turns giving tours and pouring the family’s wines, many named after family members.

The entire experience was built around the heart-warming story of this close-knit family working hard to achieve the American dream together. Every step of the tour and every product they sold oozed this family’s pride in their story, and invited you to become a part of it. The power of the family’s story transcended the logical brain, spoke to my emotions, and touched my heart.

Then came the pitch: Did I want to join the wine club, which would make me an honorary member of La Familia Robledo? Heck yeah! I couldn’t pull out my credit card fast enough. Of course I wanted to be an extended part of such a compelling story. Yes, I am now a proud Robledo “cousin.”

In other words, I willingly fell victim to the classic sales pitch of Wine Country: the wine of the month club. Did I know I was being suckered by their sweet-talking story? You betcha. Did I care? No siree. In fact, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

When a powerful story is wrapped in values, it resonates with people. The right story can be more powerful than common sense.

So, what’s your story? Who’d willingly buy into your cause if you told them your most powerful, heartfelt tale?

(image courtesy Flickr user State Library of South Australia, Creative Commons)
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Holly Minch is LightBox Collaborative’s chief engineer and founder, helping nonprofits, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and other do-gooders tell their best stories in the best possible ways.