The importance of storytelling in the sales process

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Michele Bondani, founder and owner of Packaging in Italy

Storytelling, we hear about it now more and more often and on several fronts, but we try to clarify what storytelling is, what it is for and what strategy to adopt to develop a successful project, and we do it together with Michele Bondani, owner and founder of Packaging in Italy, which has experienced many successful cases on the subject and which as always, with the usual clarity, provides us with important food for thought, also useful for printing and paper converting companies…

 

Storytelling, or the ability to tell stories, is certainly functional to the sales process. Everyone in the entrepreneurial and commercial sphere when we present ourselves in front of a new customer we must tell a story, possibly interesting, that actually characterizes the company and the products we are presenting, otherwise the common risk is to put on the plate the same arguments that our potential customer has already heard from other suppliers, inevitably falling into the tussle of low prices.
“At this time of the year with my agency we are working on projects for next Christmas 2022, we have already addressed in previous articles the sector of baked goods for the anniversary, where competition is very fierce, and to present ourselves to eyes of a potential buyer such as large-scale distribution, which among other things is just waiting to have the opportunity to bring the commercial negotiation only on the low price, with a product without any distinctive features, is a risk that must be avoided”, says Michele Bondani.
The presentation of a product must necessarily be told in a certain way, making the interlocutor dream, and going to stimulate his emotions.
“Until the 1980s, the sale of houses took place mostly on paper, then someone started proposing apartments already furnished, with building site still open, allowing customers to see what could have become their own apartment completed, playing on the emotional sphere of the purchasing process”, adds Bondani, an approach that applies to a house, but equally to a product and its packaging, which today also thanks to digital printing and converting technology, as well as being told, can be presented to customers in the form of real mock-ups even in a single piece.

From “storytelling” to “storydoing”: from tale to reality
A mistake absolutely to avoid, especially nowadays with the role played by social networks, is to go and tell stories that are not really supported by real and concrete facts. A bit like in the field of sustainability it is absolutely counterproductive to do the classic “green-washing” or to declare oneself eco-sustainable only in words, also in this case telling a product or service that is not really differentiating from the competition leads to undesirable results.
“Very often companies do not carry out research and development and therefore the product or service offered does not really distinguish themselves from other market players, and here the role of marketing comes into play, called to play its cards with absolute determination”, adds Michele who then presents us a successful example he has worked on in the past. “About 10 years ago Giorgio Gherri, administrator of Parma Is (Terre Ducali Group) came to me and together we launched the famous Pagnotto, a project conceived by us at Packaging in Italy of great success, thanks to a product differentiation that made it possible to create a new category that did not exist before, distinguishing itself on the market, thus avoiding the price war”, says Bondani.
The category of sandwiches was now saturated, all the companies offered the product packaged in a triangular plastic casing, Bondani then started from the first distinctive point of Pagnotto, a very high quality product with a shelf-life of 5/6 days, to be inserted among the very fresh products, characterized by the use of products of excellence of the territory, a factor that gave life to an entire range of products with an absolutely innovative packaging, consisting of a secondary packaging consisting of a paper bag, easily transportable, with an open window but without a film that allows you to see the primary plastic packaging which, thanks to the truncated cone shape, allows the Pagnotto to be opened slightly, enhancing that 30% more filling, another distinctive element of this product.
The impact on the shelf was absolutely winning thanks to work on several fronts, from naming, to structural design, visuals, and packaging on which the distinctive features of this innovative product were enhanced, giving life to a successful storytelling.
“Storytelling, as you can well understand, is only a link in a chain that must also include all the other characteristics described above, since otherwise the project does not hold up, it is not real and then it does not work on the market. The name Pagnotto was created precisely to distinguish itself from the category of sandwiches that already existed. Il Pagnotto is a new product and as such it was also proposed in a new format, no longer triangular but rectangular, made with wholemeal bread, selected ingredients and gourmet sauces, all characteristics to be told on the package, another distinctive element of this extraordinary product”, adds Bondani, reminding us that without storytelling the battle will inevitably end only on the price. There are situations where telling a product is undoubtedly simpler, since the characteristics to be brought out are already there and should only be brought to the spotlight, other times in which the task of marketing or better of the specialized agency must play a leading role, with an in-depth study and analysis that effectively emphasizes the distinctive values ​​of the product.

A tip for printers and paper converting companies

“I invite companies in your sector, namely printers and packaging producers to reflect on their storytelling, and to make it stand out, telling and explaining it. Today I think that in a commodity such as the printing service, to stand out from the crowd and therefore from the price, you need to tell your own story, your own distinctive features, which go a little beyond the latest technology or the service factor. Today I am convinced that 99% of companies that offer printing services work on public relations, on empathy with the customer, since the service offered at the end of the day is very, very similar to that offered by the vast majority of competitors. I know it’s not easy, but even in this sector, a really new service should be created to really differentiate yourself. It’s not easy, I repeat, I realize, but it’s not impossible either. Today the tools for successful positioning and storytelling also in printing, converting and packaging sector are available, just sit down and make a winning strategy, together with professionals”, concludes Michele Bondani.