Just a few weeks ago I found myself sitting in a room full of 500 aspiring internet marketers who had gathered together to learn the art of growing an online business.
I was there to present on the topic of blogging but after presenting right up front as one of the first speakers found myself fascinated by the way in which the other speakers presented.
Each speaker was given just over an hour to talk and then 10 or so minutes to pitch a product, resource or service to those attending.
Over the three days of presentations I saw a wide array of presentation styles:
from the quiet and humble interview that the organizer did with one presenter who was making her fortune through selling pearls
through to the hype filled presentation of a black hat SEO splogger (who made me feel ill)
through to the dynamic presentation of a 22 year old young man who was building an online community with hundreds of thousands of members around teaching people to play piano by ear
The array of stories and presentation styles left me feeling numb by the end of the three days.
But there was one presentation that rocked my world.
It started when a young couple quietly got up on stage. He was dressed in a suit (but didn’t look like he wore one very often) and she was heavily pregnant.
Each had a sheet of paper in hand – their ‘script’.
At first I was a little despondent – their start was nervous and in quite a stilted way they almost seemed to be reading their presentation. He would say a few lines and she would take a turn.
But within seconds – and despite their ‘style’ – I was hooked.
They told their story
Over the next 45 minutes this young couple nervously shared their rags to riches story. From being broke, unemployed and with few prospects they turned to the internet and over a few years built a multi million dollar business. In fact their business made what I’ve built look like chicken feed. They’d created a 7 (actually it was probably 8) figure income and they were a three person business.
To be honest, I look back on their presentation and can’t say that I learned a lot on a technical level – however the simple way that they put their teaching in the context of their own story was brilliant.
When it came time for their presentation to end and for them to pitch a product or service they offered themselves as coaches to people in the room – for a fee.
The price was high (it was in excess of $20,000 and was the most highly priced pitch for the three days).
I found myself doubting that they’d make any sales – but within minutes of them starting to make their pitch for their services and well before they’d finished speaking people began to leave their seats.
They were not leaving the room – they were heading for the sales table.
I don’t know how many people signed up for their services that day – but my suspicion was that they made over 20 – 30 sales – they probably made around half a million dollars in sales in just that hour.
Why did people buy?
I’m sure many did it because they felt they could learn something from this couple (they certainly knew how to make money) – however the clincher of the deal was that the pitch was made in the context of a story.
Stories are powerful and I’m convinced bloggers who use them have a tool in their arsenal that can make them incredibly influential and persuasive communicators.
For more on learning how to utilize the power of telling tantalizing stories to kick off a blog post – check out Brian’s post on the topic – he’s definitely onto something.