Patagonia and other stories
At a time of year when the Christmas story has such a strong influence on enormous communities all over the world – it seems a very good time to talk about the power of stories.
One Christmas Robert and I decided to meet up with friends in California. We landed, found our lodgings at the top of a brilliant deli and then, as soon as we could, we met up with Jim, an old friend and work colleague from way back. California was a lot colder than we’d anticipated so the first question was where could we get some extra layers that would suit the action packed holiday we anticipated? Jim recommended a store called Patagonia.
As we arrived at the shop a storm set in, which made the experience very dramatic. The torrential rain hitting the tin roof created a deafening din and I thought we might need to invest in full waterproofs, waders and an inflatable dinghy. As it was, the storm held us hostage so we took our time comparing all the warm layering options the shop offered. Then as the rain subsided and we could hear ourselves think once more we bought some fleeces and ski hats made from recycled plastic water bottles. Unfortunately both Robert and I liked the same fleece design, so we spent the rest of the holiday looking pretty much the same. At the Heavenly Ski Resort restaurant, the maître d' shouted to one of the waiters, pointing at us, ‘Find a good table for the twins!’
And another story…
15 years later, from a PC in soggy Hertfordshire, what I can tell you is that Patagonia is still going strong. And perhaps that success is due to a website that is awash with stories. It’s a business with strong core values that relate to the use of the limited earth’s resources. So there are stories about community actions they have instigated to save or revive different local regions or species. Another section is dedicated to stories and information about their suppliers all over the world - chosen for their similar values.
These days everyone seems much more globally aware than they used to be. People understand more about the way we are connected to everyone else. Personal values that relate to the use of the world’s resources seem more prevalent, than say 10 or even 5 years ago. And it seems quite common now for people to be aware what they contribute to the world. Though I know from experience that both finding and voicing your purpose can be difficult – we each of us have a special role to play I’m sure. Some HVA members do supply warm winter wear or other practical items that also appeal to our sense of spirit or beauty. Many others provide warmth for the soul in a myriad of ways. It seems to me that stories are one of the best ways to let the world know what we do and why we do it. It would also be an interesting exercise for artists and designers to trace the origins of their materials - threads, pigments, wood or clay – and discover the real people our materials link us to. Some exciting stories there I’m sure!
One of my favourite books, “Resonate” by Nancy Duarte, is about business presentations. She talks about the importance of stories for conveying meaning to customers. She observes, “…Information is static; stories are dynamic – they help an audience visualise what you do or what you believe. Tell a story and people will be more engaged and more receptive to the ideas you are communicating. Stories link one person’s heart to another…”
We’ve all got successes in terms of the peace, comfort, joy or fun and excitement we bring to other people’s lives. Those are great stories and a brilliant foundation for any marketing plan. So how about a very simple and cost-effective New Year’s resolution: share more stories!
If you are a member of HVA we can help you distribute your stories to newspapers and magazines and online news opportunities – helping you multiply the effect of your marketing efforts. So if you have any stories you can share them here by all means. But if you would like them to be spread further afield then email them to: email@example.com
by BELINDA NAYLOR-STABLES