Stop Selling, Start Storytelling

What's Your Story?

Recently, I became a customer of because of their INCREDIBLE marketing and excellent products.

The brilliance of their marketing grabbed my attention and engaged me through their art of storytelling which was fun, personal and authentic. Within five minutes, I wanted to be their customer, because it was evident this company was more than just a company that sold boring legumes.

Replicate their techniques in your DZ’s marketing and you’ll see results.


No one likes to be sold to, but we do like to take recommendations or buy from people we know and trust. To establish trust, does an excellent job of not feeling like a corporation but instead feeling like a small family run business.

They tell their entire family history… and it’s awesome! I learned all about ‘Poppy Sol’ who pursued the American Dream by taking a big risk of starting this company on the brink of the Great Depression. Having a picture of Poppy Sol makes this feel really authentic and helps create an immediate connection between myself and this company.

Below: I know this company feels different than any of its competitors. About Us


The story continues to present day where we are introduced to the third generation of the family, Jeff and David. If this company is a multi-million dollar company, it doesn’t feel like it, which is brilliant.



I recommend that all of my clients tell their stories (and many of them do) on their websites. Who are you? Why did you start a skydiving center? What’s your story? You may think this is a small detail, but it’s vitally important and could be the difference that influences a customer to book with you, a person with a story, as opposed to a corporate brand that happens to offer skydiving.

Millennials can smell BS a mile away. They’re looking for an authentic experience from real people. Show who you are.

Meet the Owners & Their Stories: Skydive Jurien Bay | Wisconsin Skydiving Center | Skydive Carolina


In the Footer of their website: This is a great, but subtle


If you experience a problem with any of our products, customer service, shipping, or even if you just plain don’t like what you bought, please let us know. We’ll do whatever it takes to make it right.

How awesome is that? Not only do I know a little more about these people, but they’re essentially promising to take care of me… no matter what. This was a tipping point that transformed me from being a browser to a paying customer.



While we cannot make any assurances on safety, what if we published an assurance like this on our DZ websites:

“We care. If you’re dissatisfied with any aspect of your experience, we want to know! We want to exceed your expectations while enjoying the greatest adventure life has to offer!”

THIS says something, doesn’t it? This stands out from your competitors because few are making these statements (but we should be).

Sunpath Products

 The Customer Experience

The storytelling from doesn’t stop at its website. As I mentioned, I became a customer, and when my package arrived, I couldn’t help but smile at the same friendly branding used in all of their packaging. Note the four characters on the front… each has a name and represents one of the family members involved in the business. Pretty cool. Packaging

On the back of the packaging, the personal story is retold and we’re introduced to each of the characters who are the actual family members running the business today. This may seem like a small touch, but it’s brilliant. It feels personal, fun and most of all authentic. I don’t feel as if I’m being marketed too (though I am) which is what makes this so brilliant; it doesn’t feel like marketing. It’s un-marketing. I feel a connection (priceless), I’m smiling while looking at the packaging (great emotional response) and it just feels good.


Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 7.21.02 PM



Do you know why Geico insurance commercials are so successful? They make you laugh. Think about it, if you can make people laugh, you can make people listen. We all love to laugh! Look at this next picture. This air packet was put in my box to ensure my packages of peanuts weren’t damaged… and it’s hilarious! They didn’t have to do this, but this little detail, makes me love the company even more. Their packaging is marketing and it made me smile. BRILLIANT. I bought something as simple as peanuts and they made me a raving fan.



Packing Peanuts


‘A Little Something Extra’


I was already so impressed with and then they hit me with this unexpected +1… free dried apricots., you just won my heart!

Marketing TIP:

There are lots of opportunities to add ‘a little something extra’ at the DZ.

  • handing out frozen popsicles during a hot day
  • handing out keyrings or koozies (stubbie holders) at check-in
  • giving a tour of the DZ and how a parachute works to kids (make kids happy, the parents will love you!)
  • offer a free celebratory beverage to the local bar, post-jump
  • highlight guests on Facebook while they’re at the DZ waiting (before and after shots). This makes them feel like rock stars!
  • Communicate with your guests throughout the experience. This is a simple thing, but many DZ’s don’t say much to their guests until they’re called for training or to get geared up


Generate Valuable Content

Visit on YouTube and you’ll find that they are actively creating valuable content to help their end users. These aren’t commercials, but helpful tips showing how to eat more healthy (with recipes that use their products of course). Instead of selling, they’re providing VALUE.



Having a robust YouTube page takes work, but simply maintaining an active blog will pay dividends. Having a great website means nothing if people aren’t able to find you. Generating content that helps your customers and then publishing (and boosting) this on social media will drive traffic back to the site. An increase in site traffic should increase sales. Great topics to write about include:

  • Five Things To Know Before Making a Tandem Skydive
  • What is AFF?
  • Tips To Improve Your Tandem Skydive
  • Instructor Spotlight (people love reading about people who work as skydiving instructors)

How You Can Apply This To Your Business

In today’s marketplace, most consumers are making the decision of where to skydive predominantly based on price. It’s our job to show that you are uniquely different than your competitors. You can do this by:

Being More Personal. Showcase who you are and tell your story. When was your first skydive and what inspired you to start your own skydiving business? What is important to you? What are your goals and why?


Focusing on the Entire Customer Experience. The skydiving experience is not just the skydive. The experience is built on every customer point of interaction. Identify each customer touch point and rank how you’re performing on a scale of 1 to 5. Not sure how you rank? Create a survey built around each touch point and send it to your guests 24 hours after their skydive. You’ll begin to have clarity on what needs to be addressed as it relates to your customer’s experience.


Providing More Value. Stop advertising and start adding more valuable content. Skydiving consumers don’t know what they don’t know. It’s your job to tell them. Based on Google Analytics data on our client’s websites, the most commonly trafficked pages are Home –> Info & Rates –> Frequently Asked Questions. I’d like to suggest that we begin writing great content that expands on your DZ’s faq’s that will help guests have a more enjoyable experience with you.


Adding a Plus One. The way to build loyalists (a far more valuable kind of customer) is to exceed expectations. The great challenge for any business operator is figuring out how to exceed expectations. This can be challenging especially when expectations are very high. Our skydiving guests have very high expectations because of the activity we offer and its high price point.  Like with their free apricots, figure out how to impress your guests with something they weren’t expecting.

Burble Software is a skydiving reservations and manifest solution.


It’s Worth It

Business owners are constantly looking for a way to separate themselves from the competition. Implementing these ideas are worth it because few in the skydiving industry are doing it. This is a great opportunity to stand out, be different and allow your customers to market for you. Look what has done with me. I happen to maintain a blog on marketing. impressed me with both their marketing and customer experience. I’m now writing about them… free advertising!

Doing these things are worth the effort. After all, the only “cost” to you is time. Don’t have time? No business owner does, but you need to make time to incorporate this into your marketing.

Who In Skydiving is Telling Great Stories?

There are several skydiving companies killing it with great storytelling content. To learn who’s doing it well…. click here.


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About James La Barrie

James La Barrie is passionate about marketing and changing a company's service culture. Originally from the Caribbean island of Antigua, James melds his approach of marketing and delivering elite service together as one. James has injected his 'service marketing' approach throughout his career to transform companies from good to great.

One thought on “Stop Selling, Start Storytelling”

  1. Awesome post. So much untapped opportunity.

    I’ve always believed a business isn’t made of things. It’s made of people. Put the people up front and the stories will follow. I’ve always see staff as a sleeping asset. Everyone has so much to offer in their own ways. I believe if a company does this right they will always have a stack of resumes on their desks, much happier staff and a self perpetuating grass roots marketing machine.

    Much of what you suggested for on site customer engagement makes sense, it totally doable and really is some of the most lacking. What I find is everyone is to busy to care and most seem unwilling as “it’s not my job.” And the DZO’s are tapped. I’ve also feel it’s all top down. If upper level management doesn’t care, no one will. How does a company inspire its staff to the next level? How do you get staff on board with an understanding of how it positively affects them in the long run?

    Thank for another great article.

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