Ferdie Bester
Ferdie Bester

It’s the story that sells

Recently I was in Stone Town, Zanzibar, browsing the large selection of local paintings on offer.

When I engaged one of the vendors in friendly barter, the sales pitch unfolded. I was told by the vendor that he had painted it. Isn’t it romantic to buy art from the artist himself?

I decided to do some more window-shopping (more realistically, pavement browsing), and quickly realised that all the vendors had the same paintings. So did I meet the original painter at the start?

The next vendor (with the same painting selection as my original vendor/painter) proudly confessed that he had also painted his pavement gallery. To further test this phenomenon I asked him if he had painted his neighbour’s paintings, which looked painstakingly like his, even with the same signature. He denied this.

Smiling broadly I asked him which paintings were the best, his or his neighbour’s? With a mischievous smile, he said: “The best painting is the one that sells.”

It’s clear why vendors use this tactic — tourists are always looking for something authentic, a story to tell the people back home. What better than to buy a local, authentic piece of art in Stone Town from the artist himself?

Marketers should take note of this: people make buying decisions based on more than tangible features and benefits; people “buy” into the story and character of the product. The marketing strategy should therefore complement this phenomenon.

Apple, the company that brought us the iPod and iMac, is a great example of people buying into a company’s vision and innovative culture.

I own an iPod and I’m pondering buying a MacBook. It’s just so cool …