Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I’ll begin.

We all love a good story. In fact we’re built that way – evolved to retain and pass on information in story form before we had the means and methods to write it down.

So we all know that a story has to contain a beginning, middle and end. In Hollywood they call it the three-act structure, and scripts generally have to adhere to this pretty rigidly if they are to even be considered. You establish your characters, you give them a seemingly insurmountable challenge and ultimately, through transformation and self-realisation you reach a resolution of some kind.

Why bother with all of this though? Because it’s as close to a sure-fire way of engaging an audience. And it works. Ever cry at a movie? Or while reading a book? Ever pick up a proper page-turner and read into the small hours only to be asleep at your desk the next day?

How many books or movie plots can you remember? Dozens I would think. And they’ll be books and movies from years back too.

So where did the barman go wrong?

Let’s shift the analogy to a different scenario. Let’s say my son wants a bedtime story. A ‘good one’. I know what he likes, so right now such a story would contain assassins, WWE wrestlers, Han Solo, a skateboard, various members of the family, some degree of disguise, a splash of parcour and a basketball.

And with that knowledge – that customer knowledge – I could improvise a pretty good tale. Because engaging my son is all about him, not me.

The barman wasn’t asked for a recommendation, he was asked for a story. The customer wanted to be romanced into trying something new. He wasn’t just interested in a beer – he was interested in the process – the experience – of choosing a beer.

And if the barman had got his story right, his customer would remember that day. Probably more than the beer. And he’d probably come back again.

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