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Tell a Story

At the last AVCA Convention, I listened to Hall of Fame Coach Terry Pettit’s seminar on Program Building: The Part They Didn’t Tell You About. Terry’s message in the seminar was about telling a story.  I also read an article written by Kathy DeBoer AVCA Executive Director on USA Men’s Olympic Team Gold Medal Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon in the AVCA Coaching Volleyball Magazine, June – July 2009 issue, Building a Sustainable Model of Success (click here to read the article).  Hugh’s message, “Coaches are sales people first, then change agents.  We define principles as absolute truths, and work from there to as oppose to coerce thoughtful dialogue is the key”.

I am continually developing my story and learning how to be a better salesman (although, 10 years in the business world certainly helped), to this audience of 18 – 22 year old college women.  Beyond traditional volleyball sources like AVCA Coaching Volleyball Magazine, I enjoy insight from marketing gurus like Seth Godin.  Following is one of Seth’s blog’s about a bottle of soap and how someone makes an extra $17 on a bottle of soap.

Here’s a $20 bottle of soap. Functionally identical to a $3 bottle, so what’s the $17 for?

Let’s assume the people buying it aren’t stupid. What are they paying $17 for? A story. A feeling. A souvenir of a shopping expedition or perhaps just a little bit of joy in the shower every morning. Let’s dissect:

1. The hang tag. It’s special because most soap doesn’t have a hang tag. Hang tags come on things that are a little more special than soap. And hang tags beg to be read. This one says a lot (and nothing, at the same time.) It reminds us that it doesn’t contain SLS. What’s SLS? Is it as bad as SLES?

2. This isn’t soap. It’s mineral botanic. Both words are meaningless, which means the purchaser can attach whatever feelings they choose to them. In this case, the marketer is hoping for old-time, genuine, down-to-earth and real.

3. It’s not made by a soap company. It’s made in a Dead Sea Laboratory. Laboratories, of course, are where scientists work, and the Dead Sea is biblical, spiritual and really salty. The company has a name (Ahava) that is onomatopoeic and reminds you of breathing. Breathe deep and find calm. [Even better, I’m told it means ‘love’ in Hebrew].

4. My favorite part is that it’s made from bamboo and pansy. At least a little. Bamboo because it’s fast growing and Asian and gentle and wood and grass at the same time. And pansy… well… pansy is for girls.

5. Two really good things here. First, it’s for very dry skin. This is brilliant. If your skin is dry, you don’t want to hear that it’s sort of dry, kind of dry, not as dry as that guy over there… No, you want to hear that it’s extremely dry, really dry, so dry it’s like sand. That kind of dry. This bottle understands how very dry your skin is, and it’s here to help.

Also, it’s in French! I love that there’s the language of love and sophistication and diplomacy right here on the bottle. I can imagine that models for Chanel are using it on the Rive Gauche as we speak.

6. Did I mention the part about velvet?

It took guts to take this packaging so over the top. It doesn’t match my worldview, but it might match yours. There’s not a lot of room for slightly-out-of-the-ordinary.


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