Tips for Building a Story Lead in a Sales Promotion

A woman listening intently

“Nothing connects with people like humanity. That doesn’t mean you have to tell slice-of-life stories all the time. But you know, with so many options in technology, the consumer’s not really that interested in advertising… They are interested in great stories. That transcends any medium.”  — David Droga

Many of the most successful marketing promotions, both traditional and online, have something in common: Their lead is a real story about a real person or situation that hooks the reader’s attention and compels them to read on.

Storytelling cuts through the amount of information we’re bombarded with every day. A story lead makes what you’re trying to say seem personal and exciting instead of just inundating your reader with facts, names, figures, and other chunks of information that are easily forgotten.

For example, instead of leading a promotion with a promise of being able to make “profits of 45%… 90%… or 110%…” you could lead with something like this:

“As an analyst for the National Security Agency, Mortimer Moneybags got to know 5 highly placed ministers in the Saudi Oil Ministry. His knowledge has allowed him to make perfectly legal profits in oil futures… often in excess of 100%… profits he wants to share with you.”

Note that when you use a story lead-in like this, you must tell the truth. Exceptions are stories that you clearly label as based on speculation or imagination by saying something like “Imagine if…” or “Imagine yourself…”

You also must not violate any restrictions imposed by regulatory agencies, such as claiming a health supplement provides any type of a cure. The FDA definitely frowns on such claims!

In sales copy, a well-told story helps you:

  • Present yourself as an experienced expert on the subject matter
  • Engage readers in a way that helps them remember the core message more easily
  • Delete any extraneous information or details
  • Weave otherwise dry facts and figures as an interesting part of the story
  • Show — rather than tell — the reader how their life will be enhanced by the product or service
  • Manage the way you will present the sales message
  • Give the prospect an easy way to validate their buying decision
  • Make the entire sales promotion more personable and human

Here are nine elements common to any good story, whether it’s a novel, a screenplay, or a storytelling lead in your next sales promotion. Remember that a good story…

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John Torre

I reside in North Brunswick, NJ, with my wife, Lynn, and daughters Kasey, Jaclyn, and Shelly. We also have a 110 pound, lovable Rottie named Leo that keeps us on our toes! When we're not hard at work we enjoy spending weekends at our bungalow down the Jersey shore, or take extended trips to Walt Disney World as members of the Disney Vacation Club. For kicks, I draw on my dominant "right-brain" and play guitar in classic rock and blues bands, act for local plays and independent productions, and enjoy writing creative fiction. I'm a published author in short fiction and stage plays and a graduate of a local community college's Commercial Writer's Certificate Program. After graduating from the program I was selected as an instructor and taught "Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror" writing for 8 years. I enjoy many fine relationships I made with my students to this day.

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