What Your Business Can Learn from a Bag of Rice

October 30, 2019

“Trader Joe’s Organic Basmati Rice comes from the foothills of the Himalayas.  There, the rice fields are watered by snow-fed rivers that give the rice lovely flavor, unique aroma and delicate texture.”

What does this have to do with you?

Which package of rice are you going to buy?  The one grown with snow-fed Himalayan water…or the one that came from aisle nine at Safeway?

Or how about their “Cave-aged blue cheese” and “Some Enchanted Crackers.”  Would you prefer those or cheese and crackers?

What Trader Joe’s does brilliantly…and we should pay attention to and imitate…is they create experiences through storytelling.  Forget about giving us all the boring details about the product!

They tell us a story, draw us a picture, create an experience.  And wouldn’t you rather live that experience than recall pushing a cart with a wobbling wheel down aisle nine?

Because of this unique approach, Trader Joe’s has turned normal human beings into zealots.  Ditto Apple, Zappos and a very small number of other companies who have stolen our hearts and devotion (and wallets) because they wrap us up in storytelling, painting a beautiful, desirable experience.

Here’s how they do it, and so can you:

  • A story touches our emotions, and draws us in; a product tells us about “facts.” Some Enchanted Crackers, “Multi-grain Crackers perfect for entertaining,” says “I can throw a pretty awesome party.” Crackers and cheese say “I was too lazy to make dinner.”
  • Storytelling engages. Trader Joe’s tells us about the interesting history, source or some fun facts about their products or services. Storytelling takes people behind-the-scenes for special access…and we all love being special!
  • Don’t line up with everyone else. While Trader Joe’s certainly has its share of canned chicken soup and raw cashew nuts, they also have a lot of “This Strawberry Walks into a Jar,” “Astonishing Multi-Flavor JoJos,” and “Pita Bite Crackers.” These aren’t simply quirky names. They’ve disrupted the usual grocery store experience.

The best piece of Trader Joe’s advice I want to share actually aligns the difference between Wide Awake Business and all those other business development companies out there–center everything you create from your customer’s perspective, not yours.

Have insights into the mind of your customer.

Demonstrate you understand their problem.  And show them you work super hard to eliminate it.

Every day your customers evaluate you.  You’re either “rice grown with snow-fed Himalayan water” or rice from aisle nine at Safeway.

The choice isn’t cute versus boring.  The choice is break away from the pack and relate to your customers or do the same-old, same-old.

That’s what storytelling does for you…and most importantly, for your customers.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams


P.S.  What if you drafted just one story today rather than share the “aisle nine-style” details about your services