An Elephant Ate My Hat … 3 Times!

Tropical Storm Fiona in the Atlantic Ocean
Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr

Storytelling allows you to deliver proof in an entertaining and engaging way!

You may have never heard of Tilley Endurables.

They produce the world’s most durable hats, one of them was eaten three TIMES by an elephant, then pooped THREE times and it’s still looking almost as good as new, after a wash, of course!

That hat has become a central point in their marketing and that is now on display in their central store.

Talk about a GREAT attention grabbing headline and a GREAT story as well!

Storytelling engages your audience gives you the time to deliver proof. In this case, the proof that a Tilley hat will take a beating and even a good chewing and survive

To get more such stories [testimonials] customers are encouraged to tell their stories

Examples like this are to be found in all their marketing: “I was walking east on West 78th Street in New York, as usual wearing my somewhat ancient Tilley original. A very well-hatted man was coming toward me. To my surprise, he gave a little bow and said … ‘Great hat!’.” M. Maclean, Toronto, Ontario

Testimonials like these provide social proof, pure and simple.

In the case of a ‘Tilley’, prospective buyers will certainly take these stories into account when making a decision to get one.

Look all these people have bought one. They have survived storm and tempest and being eaten by an elephant so they must be good value even if I have to pay just a little bit more for one” They’ll say

And there’s the rub… the more proof you can provide in an engaging ‘storytelling’ kind of way; the more value you can build into your offer; the more your prospects will be prepared to pay

If you want to grab your prospects’ attention at the beginning of your pre-launch sequence then make a big promise and follow up with layer upon layer of proof

Use storytelling to deliver each piece of proof.

Alex Tilley is a masterful storyteller who uses stories to engage buyers. In fact, he has filled his four-page owner’s manual with stories (yes, a four page user’s manual, for a hat!) including intricate details on the design: “Most Tilley Hats are born from a process involving 41 steps, 23 sets of hands and 15 pieces of fabric/notions. All Hats and Caps are made in Canada with the exception of the TF1 Fedora and TOS1 Oslo Hats, which are handcrafted in the USA. The fabric for each Tilley Hat style is rigorously tested for durability, breathability, sun protection, comfort and of course, good looks!

30 years ago, Alexander Tilley had a moment of inspiration while sailing. He was fed up with trying to find a decent sailing hat, and took it into his own hands to design own. After a few tries, he struck gold and found the magical combination of design, durability and downright good looks.

Next thing you know, other sailors were all over him to get one of their own.

Once they became THE essential piece of clothing for sailors, birders were next. Then hikers. And so on.

30 years later, Tilley Endurables has branched off into all kinds of durable travel goods, and can be found in 2,500 retail stores across the world.

Tilley hats come with Brag Tags that you can give to people who admire your Tilley.

The tag notes “Most Tilley wearers and the person beside you is a prime example, are interesting people of sterling character. It is well worth cultivating their acquaintance. To that end, you’ll be pleased to learn it is customary to provide the giver of Tilley Hat procurement information with a WARM HUG, OR STAND HIM OR HER TO A DRINK.”

Not only is that a great story to share but it builds the status of the buyer and appeals to the imagination of the prospect. Not only that, the owners manual tells you exactly HOW to use brag tags for maximum enjoyment (and where to find the secret pocket in your hat to store them, so you always have them on hand)!

To top it all off … a lifetime guarantee: “If your new purchase doesn’t fit, send it back. If the color doesn’t suit you, send it back. If a new item has not been worn or washed, we’ll cheerfully exchange it for one of the right size or color. If the new item isn’t quite what you expected, we’ll refund the purchase price.

Is it any doubt that Alex Tilley ‘gets’ the power of great storytelling.

He has built an admirable business by telling effective stories … you can too.


Stories… And just to add mine to this post, I have sailed across the Atlantic ocean three times, each with my very own Tilley hat. Why? Because the secret pocket in the crown of the hat is a great place to stash a credit card and essential personal information. There’s nothing like preparing for every eventuality when crossing an ocean.

If you have to abandon ship, you have no time to think of these small details but if they’re all safely tucked away in the hat you just happen to have on your head… then no problem, you can concentrate on survival knowing that you will not become a stateless person when you do!

My thanks to Clayton Makepeace for  reminding me of this great example of how a punchy headline coupled to a good story will engage your prospects and give you the opportunity to build trust, credibility and authority whilst telling them about your product or service in an ‘unsalesy’ sort of way.

Share a good story of yours below…

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Rory Ramsden

Specialist focusing on getting new products ready to launch and re-launching ever-green products to the online community. What can a Product launch marketing do for you? - Significantly increase your ROI - Explode the size of both prospects and client email lists - Build strong rapport between your clients and your company - Dramatically increase the number and quality of your JV partners and affiliates - Make your business the 800lbs Gorilla in your market - Leverage your newly found cash flow and positioning to accelerate your growth - Send employee morale soaring to new undreamed of levels To get these benefits, we'll assist you to develop a strategic and tactical plan for your coordinated launch…There are a myriad of tools and tactics to use in an online product launch including - email lists - blogs - surveys - special reports - sales letters - autoresponders - video and audio presentations - webinars - squeeze pages - Social Media - Networking As professional product launch manager, we will help you select the most appropriate for your needs. Remember Product Launches work for all types of products and services, evergreen or new so contact me to find out more +33637500988 Specialties The Launch Systems Toolbox This limited consultancy will assess your state of readiness in 6 key areas. The fee is typically set against our fees for piloting your complete launch. []