“I would say try to tell stories that you care about as opposed to stories that you think will sell.” — Alan Ball
Most successful direct-marketing promotions have something in common: Their lead is a real story about a real person or situation that makes the reader want to know more.
Storytelling cuts through the glut of information surrounding us. Instead of being bombarded with facts, names, figures, and other chunks of information that dull your prospect’s interest, a story lead makes what you’re trying to say seem personal and exciting.
For example, instead of leading a promotion with a dry promise of being able to make “profits of 45%… 110%… or 250%…” you could lead with a story like this:
“As an analyst for the National Security Agency, Jack Jones got to know five highly placed ministers in the Saudi Oil Ministry. His knowledge has allowed him to make perfectly legal — and incredibly high — profits in oil futures… profits he wants to share with you.”
Which lead would you say is more intriguing? The one rule you must adhere to when you use a story like this is you must tell the truth. Exceptions are stories that you clearly label as based on imagination by saying something like “Imagine if…” as a qualifier.
There are certain critical elements to any good story, whether you’re building a storytelling lead or writing a novel or screenplay. In no particular order, a good story:
1) Is relevant to the audience — As a web writer, you’re aware that you need to know your prospect and what they are interested in. If they are an investor who only pursues safe investments, you wouldn’t want to use a story about someone who made their fortunes trading stock options. If they are an interior decorator looking for Art Moderne products, you wouldn’t feature a story about someone who collects Art Deco. Keep it laser-focused on what your reader is looking for.
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