At 23, Kevin Plank put his life savings into developing a prototype undershirt made of women’s lingerie that had superior moisture wicking technology, which would soak up the buckets of perspiration that slowed him and his fellow football players down on the field. He called his label Under Armour.
Over a decade later, Kevin came to Peter Guber’s office to leverage some of his sports entertainment relationships and shared with him the story he’d told to broaden Under Armour’s appeal. “I had to make the customer my hero,” he told Guber. “I told the Superman story in reverse, I had to make them believe that it wasn’t the obvious Superman costume but Clark Kent’s t-shirt that would give them the lift-off they really needed.”
Kevin told his sales team to tell an aspirational story, and the aspiration was whatever goal their customers came in with. “We didn’t just say, ‘how may I help you?'” he explained. “We asked, ‘what do you want to be? Whatever it is, you’ll get there with Under Armour.”
The theme of Plank’s story was that every Under Armour product helped the customer perform like a pro. Under Armour would provide the physical assist and the emotional propulsion, but it was the customer who would break higher and higher personal records.
Today Under Armour is worth nearly $1 billion, and Plank makes sure that every one of his 2400 employees tells a version of the customer-as-hero story every day to consumers, retailers, media, and athletes.
MORE ABOUT TELL TO WIN
To validate the power of telling purposeful stories, Guber includes in this book a remarkably diverse number of ‘voices’ – master tellers with whom he’s shared experiences. They include YouTube founder Chad Hurley, NBA champion Pat Riley, clothing designer Norma Kamali, “Mission to Mars” scientist Gentry Lee, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former South African president Nelson Mandela, magician David Copperfield, film director Steven Spielberg, novelist Nora Roberts, rock legend Gene Simmons, and physician and author Deepak Chopra.
After listening to this extraordinary mix of voices, you’ll know how to craft, deliver – and own – a story that is truly compelling, one capable of turning others into viral advocates for your goal.