I [heart] Trader Joes

10X Business Letter 
San Diego, Ca  

Dear 10X Business Builder,

I have something to confess.

I’m in love.

I’m love with Trader Joe’s.

I love everything about them.

They are very unique.

I love the food selection (especially the chocolate — that’s a food group, right?) .

I love the portion sizes that can easily accommodate a single-unit family (Aka: bachelor).

I love the progressive corporate culture.  They hire employees that are a cross between beatniks and hipsters and it has been my experience that they go out of their way to help you.

And now I love their marketing.

Let me explain…

Today I received their, “Fearless Flyer” mailing.  It’s branded as a newsletter, but it’s nothing more than advert for this month’s specials.

Other grocery stores send out these weekly or monthly specials too, but they usually end up in the recycle bin before I leave my mail room.

You know the process… You grab all the mail in your mail box and throw away (or recycle) anything that isn’t a bill or statement.  Usually all the coupons and flyers are already conveniently bundled for the round-file drawer.

So what made this one different?…

For starters, a typical grocery store mailer has a bunch of pictures of the advertised specials, with a price right next to it.

The Trader Joe’s flyer does not have ONE product picture!  They have some cartoon-like characters, but they are for illustrative purposes (which speak to the emotional part of the brain).

Trader Joes


Instead, everything that is being advertised has some sort of ‘story’ attached to it.  It’s fantastic.

This is in stark contrast to traditional grocery retailer’s mailers.  They are very data driven: product and price.

The challenge with this type of advertising is you are basically competing on price.

Here’s a dirty little secret:  there is always someone willing to go out of business faster than you! (That’s the consequence of playing, “who can make the least amount of profit”)

Here’s another dirty little secret: he who can afford to pay the most to acquire new clients, wins.

If you have larger margins, you have more cash available to spend on more elaborate marketing campaigns.

That’s why story selling is so smart, it takes the focus off of how much and places it on the why.

Why your product is special…

Why a premium price is justified…

Why you do what you do…

What they are doing is creating AND telling product stories for each of the products mentioned in the mailer.

This is a practice that you should learn from.

Product stories

You should have a product story for each and every one of your products.

Trader Joe’s seems to be following the framework of answering these questions: “What is it?, Where did it come from? Why did they choose it vs. other options?”

They also throw in some interesting factoids, and do a great job describing common ways to use it and what that experience will be like.

You could do the same.  Tell your prospects how your product or service came about.  What are some antidotal remarks that the reader may find interesting?

If you are a service provider, your services solve problems.

Pick a client that you successfully helped solve their problem.

And tell the story in a narrative format answering the questions: “how was life before they found your service, how was the experience while they were using you and the service? What was their life like AFTER using your service.

It’s simple enough, but that is a great product story.

Story Database

It’s not enough just to have a good story for each of your products.  You should create a central story database because stories are always being created and can be leveraged.

If Sally has an amazing customer service story, the whole organization should be able to access this story.

The Ritz-Carlton used to open up every company meeting with success stories that were to be shared with the staff.

Instead of spending millions of dollars to build a database like Xerox did (Eureka), you can simply download Evernote.

Evernote is free, with a premium option.  Inside Evernote, simply create a ‘notebook’ that is called “stories”.

Every time you learn about a new story add it as a ‘note’ in your ‘stories’ notebook.

Evernote allows you to share the notebook with anyone you would like.

They, in turn, can add their stories too.  And over time you will have a very nice, searchable story database.

Everybody On Same Page

You should make it a company policy that everyone on your team knows your product stories.

When I say everyone, I mean everyone — the receptionist, the accountant, the intern — everyone.

You never know when an opportunity to sell is going to present itself or to whom.

If nobody is available, and a qualified prospect starts to bombard your receptionist with questions about a certain product, she will be armed with enough information to facilitate a sale versus the alternative, “let me have someone get back to you”.

To me, Trader Joe’s really stands out.  And they stand out because they dare to do things different from any of their competition — bottom line, they have a great story.

I challenge you to think about how you can start to incorporate story selling into your business and how you can infuse it into corporate culture.

Because as the world famous story telling expert Roberto Monaco says, “The moment you start telling a story, you stop selling a commodity”

Loving Living Giving Large,

Jeff Paro
EditorThe 10X Business Letter

P.S. – Story telling and story selling is the purest form of communication. Check out our online module, Stories that Sell Vol I HERE!


  1. Chris Bates on May 8, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Great post Paro! One thing I was blown away by at TJ’s is that the chalk cartoon advertisements aren’t printed, they are hand drawn by staff company artists. 🙂 cb

    • Jeff Paro on May 8, 2014 at 11:07 am

      The ones that are in the store? or the ones in the flyer?…

  2. Steve Hougard on May 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Jeff- Awesome post. Great idea about Database storytelling.
    I’m going to use it.

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