Discover more from Datadoodle by Ted Cuzzillo
"Springboard" stories prompt data consumers to put themselves in the story
After all, springboard story structure made home bakers jump into cake mix
Back in the ‘50s, the clever people who manufactured cake mixes had a problem. All that home cooks had to do to make batter was add water. No eggs, no milk. Yet many customers added eggs and milk anyway. It ruined cakes and made customers unhappy. But it just didn’t feel right to them otherwise.
The manufacturers eventually solved the problem. They gave up and stopped adding powdered eggs and milk. They let the customers do it. Customers started making better cakes, and sales rose. (Read about it in Vance Packard’s 1957 book The Hidden Persuaders.)
In the decades since, marketers in many other categories have made good use of that strategy. It has become known as “the IKEA effect,” which Wikipedia describes as “a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created.”
Marketers are finding many areas where they can improve sales by urging the prospective customer to add his creative touch. A West Coast firm selling to home builders found that although its architects and designers could map houses to the last detail it was wise to leave some places where builders could add their own personal touch. And Dr. Dichter in his counseling to pharmaceutical houses advised them that in merchandising ready-mixed medical compounds they would be wise to leave the doctors ways they could add personal touches so that each doctor could feel the compound was “his own.”
The cake mix solution seems to be similar to Stephen Denning’s “springboard” stories. (He summarizes it in HBR.) These are modeled after parables, which are similar to fairy tales. Each type persuades by letting people imagine themselves in a story.