Give me your money or I will eat you

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The Story

I went to the zoo with my family the other week – and I noticed something very interesting when I paid for admission.

When the cashier handed me my tickets and credit card back, she also dropped three shiny coins in my hand.

I was puzzled at first. She explained that these coins – not real money, nor vending machine tokens – were meant for a donation box just inside the zoo.

Each donation coin, she said, represented 25 cents of the ticket price I paid to get in to the zoo. The zoo was returning those quarters to me so I could donate it to a conservation cause.

And here’s where it gets interesting.

There were six different conservation causes that I could support. Here’s a picture of one side of the donation kiosk.

Donation Booth at the Zoo

Pick me! Pick me!

That choice was the key, because it invited me to get involved.

The zoo didn’t just ask for donations. To be honest, I would have shrugged it off. (After all, there were gorillas to see!)

And the zoo could have “given” me a token. Sure, I would have tossed it into one of the boxes, but I wouldn’t have been invested as much.

Clever non-profit devils that they are, the zoo sliced out a portion of the money I had already plunked down, so I felt that much more ownership in the donation decision.

These were my dollars at work. (And just in case you’re interested, I supported local endangered predators, like wolves. Because predators have big teeth and are scary and are just plain cool. Plus, they might come and eat me if I hadn’t.)

In essence, the zoo engaged me into their donation experience.

And that’s exactly what a good story does.

A story well told plunges us into the action, so we’re not worrying about whether we’re being sold or pressured. Instead, we just wanna see what happens next.

It’s the difference between consuming information and participating in an experience.

Experiences are fun.

And they’re actually a darn good way to deliver information in the way brains like to consume it: piece by piece, and most importantly — as an answer to a question.

That question is: what happens next?

After all, it’s a common complaint that we are awash in information.

“Information overload!” sounds the cry.

But I don’t see too many people cutting their cord to the web or setting up a wifi scrambling shield around their houses. (And even those that do still hungrily consume newspapers or the oldest stories around – neighborhood gossip.)

No, we still want information – but we want it delivered in tasty bites.

We want to eat it when we’re hungry. And that hunger comes in the form of curiosity.

That’s what the 60 Second Sales Hook does. When you tell your struggle, you create an immediate hunger in your listener to know What Happened Next.

Then you quickly nourish her with the tale of your Discovery and Results.

Instead of shrugging it off, she’ll gobble it up and want more:

Like where she can learn to get the same results you did.


Tell a story that pulls your prospects into an experience (rather than forcing them to face an information firing squad).

Stay Tuned For Next Week

In which I follow a sob story

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Scott McKinstry
Scott McKinstry
Scott McKinstry is a direct response copywriter who specializes in telling stories. You can contact Scott and learn more about using the power of stories in marketing at
Showing 6 comments
  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    This post summarizes something I’ve been thinking about lately – “…we still want information – but we want it delivered in tasty bites. We want to eat it when we’re hungry. And that hunger comes in the form of curiosity.” That is SO TRUE!!! Shoving delicious food in front of someone who is not hungry for it, meaning hungry for that particular food, is simply not polite. Sometimes we need to stop and remember to be polite when we market ourselves.

    • Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Mia. You’re right — timing is key. Even the same person who isn’t “hungry” now might be later.

  • Reply

    That was an interesting experience. It’s true that storytelling has more power than just plain telling, or information. After all, the younger human race practically survived through telling stories.

    • Reply

      For sure, Fransss … exchanging information in stories, like discovering where the tigers are hiding or where that tasty store of honey can be had or how to woo a love interest. (And often how we still learn).

  • Reply

    Now if the zoo had only created a Choose Your Own Adventure story model around each conservation effort it could have really gotten you engaged… And maybe if each protagonist animal under the spotlight had a cool enough plot line… They could have had an ATM out there to encourage you to cash in for more tokens to keep the story going!
    It could have been a cross between Aesop’s Fables and a video arcade and really milked you for all you were worth. You might have stopped dead in your tracks for the whole day and never even seen the zoo!
    Now THAT would be a good story 🙂

    • Reply

      I like where you’re going with this, pal.
      The adventure could continue after I left … weekly email updates on the plight of the Wandering Bear … his brushes with bloodthirsty hunters … his surprise find of a tasty beehive … real time video and photos … all in return for a monthly sponsorship fee.

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