Recently, I walked into the room and looked at the TV just in time to see the following scene: A lady sitting on the bench at a bus stop, listening intently to the story a young man was telling her. The bus she had been waiting for stopped, but she ignored it and it pulled away.
“Didn’t you say you were waitin’ for the number seven bus?” the young man asked her.
“There’ll be another one along shortly,” she answered.
The lady was so interested in the story, she chose to remain at the bus stop and keep listening. She let her bus go right on by because she wanted to hear how the story unfolded. She didn’t care about being late to her destination.
(If you haven’t guessed, this is a scene from Forrest Gump.)
As web writers, the bus schedule probably wouldn’t do much to interrupt our stories. Our readers can take our stories with them via their mobile device.
It’s everything else competing for our readers’ attention that’s potentially a problem. There’s email, social media, phone calls, and text messages. Or maybe kids, dogs, dinner, and laundry.
Our livelihood depends on our letters, emails, articles, and web pages being read. If our readers click the X, navigate to another site, or hit delete before they’ve finished reading our words and before taking the action we had hoped they would take… we’ve failed.
But holding their attention isn’t the only reason to tell a good story. Regardless of whether we’re trying to make a sale, get the reader to take some other action, or just inform and educate, we want to give them something to remember.
Dropping a pile of facts and statistics or a list of instructions has its place, but most of those details, absent of a story, will quickly be forgotten.
Another thing happens when we tell a good story… the reader gets to know us, and they begin to trust us. We all know that consumers buy from people they know, like, and trust.
So, telling a story helps make the sale.
Before You Start
Before you can even begin to tell a story, there are a couple of things you need to think about.
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