The Product as Hero

Learning to become a great storyteller translates into business success.  

Great stories share common elements: challenge, struggle, and resolution.  And the story’s hero is the one who accepts the challenge, fights through the struggles, and achieves the resolution.

So far this week, we’ve looked at the storyteller as hero It’s Magic, the listener as hero How to Change the World, and the customer as hero The Superman Story in Reverse.  

Today, we look at the product as hero.

Our story begins with a…

Pomegranate.

It was 1986.  Lynda and Stewart Resnick had purchased 120 acres in California’s San Joaquin Valley, writes Peter Guber in Tell to Win.  The Resnick’s company Roll International was the world’s leading producer of almonds, pistachios, and clementines.  On the acreage were some trees they believed to be pistachios. 

Turns out they weren’t pistachios.  They were something called pomegranates. 

At the time, very few people knew what pomegranates were.  The Resnick’s did a little research and discovered the pomegranate had a storied past.  In ancient Persia, Egypt, India, and China, the red fruit was thought to increase strength, prevent diseases and enhance fertility.

“The heroic fruit had displayed its cancer-fighting prowess in Europe,” writes Peter, “Its picture was added to the British Medical Association’s heraldic crest in tribute.”

Interesting, thought the Resnick’s.  

Next, they funded scientific research to investigate its disease-fighting capabilities.  By 2009 they had invested $32 million on medical studies.  The storied benefits were true: pomegranate juice had a beneficial effect on prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 

“Now,” writes Peter, “they could take the history of the pomegranate and power it with proven scientific truth to tell their customers, retailers, and the media a story that made their product the hero.” 

The Resnick’s dramatically expanded their land holdings to more than eighteen thousand acres of the magical trees.  Lynda put together a world-class sales team to call on the top management of every retail supermarket chain.  They shared the historical stories about this heroic fruit that could save lives. 

“Then we let them taste this delicious juice…  We told them we’re going to put you on the list, so you get it every month,” Lynda remembers.  “And they all tried it and bought it and moved it by telling and retelling its remarkable story.”

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Reflection:  Consider a current challenge.  Is there a story I can tell that casts my product as the hero to inspire people to take action?

Action:  Tell it.

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