Selling Without Writing To “You”
Your customer’s reaction to what he reads is the only one that matters. The easiest way to get that reaction is to write directly to him. But easiest isn’t always best. You can sometimes get an even more positive reaction from your reader by making every sentence about him–by telling someone else’s story.
People are hardwired to love stories. But the stories they love most are not about them. So it may seem to be a non-sequitur that the storytelling technique works so well in marketing, but it’s actually one of the best ways to get a reader’s attention and hold it. He’ll learn a lot about you and your product through your main character’s feelings and experiences, and tie his successful ending to you.
This is not just a testimonial. Although testimonials are wonderful, they usually lack context. Your story should be three-dimensional, initially mirroring your reader’s current emotions and struggles, and then taking him on a detour to Easy Street. By the end, the success of the main character is the same as the success your reader desires–and that success will be tied to you.
So when is it best to use this technique? Telling a story is usually worth it in any context where your reader is not fully aware of the outcome. You can hook the attention of customers who may initially have only a passing interest in your offer and create the emotions that lead to the desire–and even attachment–to your offer.
But a good story isn’t going to write itself. Your main character should be a real, satisfied customer. Ask him open-ended questions about their situation before, during, and after their encounter with you. Create a headline that builds curiosity and contains as many U’s as possible, and turn your customer’s answers into a compelling narrative that doesn’t sacrifice facts for the sake of drama.
It doesn’t need to be long–your story may be best told in a few sentences–but it does need to be enough. If you can’t find a true story that’s relevant to your customer, resonates with his emotions, and gets your desired reaction while teaching him what it’s like to work with you or to use your product, it will probably fall flat.
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Excellent post, Shakirah & a great read. I like your idea that story-telling is useful to employ when the outcome is a surprise--will definitely utilize that strategy myself! I do so love a good non sequitur!...and, if my memory serves me (that's a BIG "if"!), I remember reading that we have that in common. XO texascopywriter is another fan of the non sequitur...and, spins one hell of a yarn-)
@texascopywriter @amyshoultzphd We do have that love of the quirky in common! I definitely think this strategy works well for a target market of potential customers who aren't already very much aware of our offer--when the goal is to bring in new customers, not just keep our old ones because of course our old customers know the story, and it's why they're loyal.
Great post Shakirah! So do you recommend taking a testimonial, case study, or other vignette and converting it to a sort prose-like story format for this purpose? -- perhaps asking the main character some short interview questions to add to info you've already got?
amyshoultzphd What do you think, Prof?
@texascopywriter @amyshoultzphd Starting out by working with what you've got is always best if you ask me. The element of real-life is what really makes it work. A case study or testimonial could be the basis of great storytelling sales pages.