Sometimes this gets me in trouble with the hardcore copywriters …
I believe a story can potentially carry the entire sale for your product, even if everything else is technically “wrong” in your ads (no clear call to action, lame bullets, weak offer, etc).
Take the 1986 box office hit “Top Gun”, for example.
Top Gun is about a couple of hotshot Naval pilots given a chance to train with the “best of the best” pilots in the world at the “Top Gun” fighter pilot school. And it was, in many ways, an extremely profitable sales letter.
Here’s why …
After the movie was released:
- Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses (the kind Tom Cruise’s character “Maverick” wore) jumped 40%
- Air Force and Navy recruitment shot through the roof
The movie was so good at “selling” the young whippersnappers of the day on how cool being a fighter pilot is, recruitment booths were set up inside theaters it played in!
Behold, the selling power of stories
Nothing in “Top Gun” movie told you to buy Maverick’s brand of sunglasses or join The Navy. But the movie “sold” both products to hordes of people.
So, how do you apply this to your marketing?
Below are 3 storytelling methods I’ve used in some of my most profitable sales letters, emails and other marketing campaigns.
I did not invent any of them (they’ve been around for centuries).
And they’re not the only ways to do it. But they’re simple, easy to write, and get the job done.
1. The personal story
This is one of the most common landing page stories.
This one is simple — you just “walk” people (step-by-step) through a painful problem you went through and how you achieved the result your readers are looking for.
If you sell an eBook on how to get rid of painful urinary tract infections, you would tell the story about all the pain your urinary tract infection caused you — including what it was like, how nothing gave you relief, and the embarrassment, humiliation and other physical (and psychological/emotional) horrors you endured.
Then, you segue into how you figured out a way to get rid of that infection and how you wrote your solution down in a short, easy-to-read eBook …
See how that works?
You walk them through all the worst parts of the problem (the exact symptoms your readers are experiencing) and then lead them to how you solved the problem (i.e. your product).
And, very easy to write, too — just tell your story.
2. The historical story
This kind of story is extremely persuasive, contains nothing even remotely resembling “hype,” and can persuade people to buy things they otherwise might ignore.
Here’s a real life example:
Once upon a time, I had to write an ad selling a grappling DVD course to adult men who hate the thought of having to sweat or roll around in a dirty dojo, etc. (They wanted the instant-tough-guy “push button ninja” solution to self defense.)
So I had to make grappling sound sexy and cool.
What did I do?
Nothing earth shattering — just some simple research online (maybe 30 minutes, nothing big) and found how certain people used grappling and wrestling in ancient Roman coliseums to fight lions … barehanded. I also read how ancient Samurai used to terrorize westerners in battle with their “bizarre” way of fighting … in other words, grappling.
And suddenly, grappling went from something that seemed dirty and sweaty and unappealing … to something exciting and fun.
Yes, this takes extra research.
But the extra sales are more than worth it …
3. The “meet the guru” story
This one is related to the personal story, but it’s got more “pop” due the built-in credibility it gives you.
With this format, you tell a story about how you met/talked with a guru who showed you how to solve the problem your product is about. It can be as simple as some time you spent with them on the phone … to something as dramatic as traveling up a forbidden mountain in Tibet to learn at their feet (assuming that’s true — telling a story never gives you a license to lie).
So it’s like a rite of passage:
You had a problem (one that your market shares).
That expert then passed his/her wisdom on to you, and now you are passing that on to your customers.
And they lived happily ever after …
And that’s all there is to it, three persuasive storytelling formats — proven to work.
Never underestimate the power of stories.
They are the chief means by which humans have communicated for thousands of years, and we’re all “hard wired” to be persuaded by them.
Use them in your marketing and soon you’ll be telling stories about all the money you’re making …
About the Author: Ben Settle is a direct response copywriter and email marketing strategist. Although Ben no longer accepts clients, he gives away over 700 pages of his bestselling ideas and insights free at BenSettle.com.