The Most Powerful Blogging Technique There Is

Want to become a more effective, engaging blogger?

Of course.

But we also want to come across in an authentic, conversational way, and many may be scratching their heads wondering how a copywriting skill can possibly have anything to do with that. Is copywriting really applicable to blogging at all?

We’ve seen that copywriting skills are essential to creating compelling headlines, so there’s certainly an application when it comes to post titles.

And we know that good copywriting is crucial when we take people “off-blog” to a report, whitepaper, email mini-course, or other tutorial that sells through educational persuasion rather than hype.

But what about just day-to-day blogging?

Let me tell you a quick story that just might demonstrate that the most powerful copywriting technique is also the most engaging blogging technique.

How Shane Discovered the Truth About Great Marketing

Shane is like a lot of people these days — sick of the corporate world, and looking to start up a micro-business that is not only financially rewarding, but also allows him to actually watch his kids grow up. He’s got a great idea for a software service, and is trying to figure out a smart online marketing plan to reach his target audience.

He’s been paying a lot of attention to the latest trends, and he definitely knows he needs to start blogging. Shane has also been hearing a lot about a new strategy that people like Seth Godin are trying to teach to big companies, many of which are floundering in a new environment where traditional mass media is being turned upside down.

Shane is intrigued. While he’s no big-time company, this particular method seems like something he could use as well. But he wants to be sure, so he digs a bit deeper.

Surprisingly, Shane discovers that this marketing method may not be so new after all. By reading up a bit on copywriting, he learns that guys like David Garfinkel, Joe Vitale, John Carlton, and Gary Halbert have used this technique successfully for years. They even credit an earlier copywriter named Eugene Schwartz with teaching them the strategy at a deep level.

Going even further back, Shane discovers John Caples, a copywriter who used the technique to write one of the most famous advertisements in history back in the 1920s. Shane figures that Caples likely inspired Martin Conroy to make billions for the Wall Street Journal using the very same technique.

Picking up on clues left by the copywriters, Shane then ventures into the world of Joseph Campbell, explores the writings of psychoanalyst Carl Jung, and finally ends up waist deep in the complete works of Aristotle. Who knew these people had anything to do with marketing?

Shane now definitely knows that there is nothing new about the latest marketing craze, but it does seem to be the most compelling way to get a message across to the people who want and need to hear it. Could he really have found the answer he so desperately needs to bring success to his new business?

That evening, Shane walks into his young daughter’s room to tuck her in. He notices that she’s pouting a bit, and she finally shares that she is upset because Daddy has been reading so much lately and hasn’t spent enough time with her.

Shane feels terrible.

“What if Daddy tells you the best bedtime story ever to make up for it,” Shane offers, and holds his breath hoping she’ll give him a shot.

Seeing the way her eyes light up, he knows he has his answer — in more ways than one.

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Reader Comments (67)

  1. says

    And there’s another valuable lesson folks. If you don’t spell everything out, some people won’t get it, no matter how clear you think it is.

  2. says

    euh …
    What the hell is this technique ?
    Let me guess : Is this article using this technique ?
    If yes, the technique is mystery.
    Or is it story telling ?

  3. says

    It’s begin with a story that leaves them wanting more and wanting it now =>

    It’s like the Tasters Choice commercials from the early 90’s

    and yes – if you don’t give them everything all at once you could lose them.

  4. says

    Now, now, Chris… be nice.

    I’m digging that Sesame Street reference, even if it *was* delivered in an Oscar the Grouch fashion. :)

  5. Bubba says

    I just got bored of reading it after second paragraph (“just get to the point already”). So much for “most powerful”.

  6. says

    Ahhh Joseph… now that was the *truly* subtle point of the ending, and you caught it with no problem.

    Gives me hope! :)

  7. says

    Great post!

    At first, I thought the most powerful technique was Shane’s young daughter pouting a bit.

    But when he offered to tell her the bedtime story, that gave it away.

  8. says

    I wonder if we’re seeing a generational divide, those who found the longer, gentle rhythm of the story intriguing and those who found it boring, wanting Brian “to get to the point already.”

    I think stories well-told are always a great technique. Writers, however, may need to make them shorter and snappier for a younger audience who’s used to scanning for “chunks” of relevant information. The only major exception would be when you’re looking to market “information as product.” Then I think longer-form stories, etc. would work fine no matter what the demographic.

    (But I’m just thinking outloud here…)

  9. says

    Thanks for the informative entertaining post. As a newbie blogger, it’s definitely food for thought. Maybe that’s why my god daughter gives me strange looks when I read her stories these days…

    Sick of Tending The Fireplace and Slaving Away in the Kitchen?

    Ready To Earn Thousands of Gold Coins Every Day Without Getting Out Of Bed?

    Hi poor unhappy beauties, my name is Cinderella. If you’re anything like I was, you have tried countless ways to make money in the village, only to come up short time and time again.

    A proven wealth system never before revealed.

    I was in your shoes not long ago, but just a day after putting the One Glass Slipper System into action,

    My wealth increased by 1,000,000%!

    If you are one of the first ten penniless damsels to take up this offer up before midnight you’ll receive these bonus eBooks absolutely FREE

    *How to get rid of wicked stepmothers and ugly stepsisters forever (Value 2000 gold pieces)

    *Secrets of hooking a Handsome Prince (value – become a kept woman for life)

    Are you are ready to live happily ever after? Go to sleep now.

  10. says


    It’s funny how averse people are to connecting the dots. “We don’t want to think it through, just say it!”

    Cheers for leaving it for the reader to take the step on their own – a powerful technique itself! This stands out as teaching something of real meaning and depth in a web full of bulleted lists.

  11. says

    Roberta, I think you’re right. And a person who really understands how to tell compelling stories with snappy short sentences commented just below you.

    Char, I’m talking about you (and thanks).

    Simon, hilarious!

    Rafi, thanks… that’s a very cool compliment.

  12. says

    I remember telling Liz a story about telling stories and how I’d sold millions of dollars in products using them.

    The one thing I didn’t do was do it this well !

    WOW ! That was great !

  13. says

    Thoughtful post.

    I believe in the power of stories too, I’ve posted a few on my own blog. Including one in May 2006 which I (and Chet Holmes) call the “Core Story” which is all about you and your industry


  14. David Leal says

    Great post, Brian, as always. I was one of those who didn’t get it. I tried to think it through, thinking that maybe the promise of an exceptional experience was the point you were trying to make.

    I missed the forest for the trees. Makes me wonder what the heck am I doing in marketing.

    Anyone knows of a good de-stupidifying technique?

  15. says

    Brian, I’ve been reading your stuff long enough that I know there is a point that I need to learn from your post if I’ll just keep my brain engaged. As I was reading this one I kept wondering, with all the links why you didn’t link to Shane’s blog? If he’s got it mastered I want to check his stuff out too.

    Then I got to the end. “Oh. Duh.”

    Good job as always.

  16. says

    for what i see,
    it borders on story telling, but what i find interesting is the title

    “The Most Powerful Blogging Technique There Is”

    and what he said
    “What if Daddy tells you the best bedtime story ever to make up for it”

    the most powerful xyz, best xyz
    in other words
    hype ??

    am i on the right track

  17. Jerry says

    It seems pretty clear to me that the headline sets up the reader’s frame of mind. “The Most Powerful Blogging Technique There Is” can leads the reader to believe that a definitive technique that is most powerful will be delivered in the post. Maybe just adding the word “storytelling” to the end of the text would have helped those who could not get the gist of the story from the story you told.

    As for me, I like stories.

    Thank you.

  18. says

    Jim, absolutely — core stories are crucial to both businesses and blogs (I formatted the link for you).

    David, your’re not stupid. Some stories connect with people better than others. I wanted this one to be more of a thought exercise, but stories in marketing are generally not supposed to be a puzzle.

    Chris, thanks… I guess if you briefly believed Shane was a real person, that’s a good thing!

    Divyansh, if you think that’s hype, you haven’t see enough hype.

    Jerry, I knew the comments would take care of that. :)

  19. says

    Very nice delivery.

    I was like the first few commenters saying, “what? WHAT? what is it!!”

    you had the reader gripping til the very end.

  20. says

    if you don’t have the love of your customers, you have not marketed well

    That presupposes you have customers. And I’d think Shane’s daughter doesn’t make a good analogy to the real world, in that case.

    Storytelling about storytelling; nothing revolutionary there. I did enjoy the links, but think some of your other posts are better (not that one is expected to constantly best themselves).

  21. says

    This really is a well-done post. Thank you.

    I confess I only half-got it. The ending threw me off, because, like Divyansh, I linked the title and the line “best bedtime story ever.” So I was torn — is this about stories and leaving people wanting to hear more? or is this about making big promises with confidence? Yeah, I’m lame — but I’ve only had a couple sips of coffee this morning.

  22. says

    “Shane is like a lot of people these days — sick of the corporate world”brian, this guy chin yew is doing that too,
    sick oc the corparate life, he quit his job, to tell storys, and paint.

    nice re-intro-ish post to your blog.

  23. Yu says

    David (Leal), I don’t think it’s because we’re stupid that we don’t get certain things. I think it’s just different people see things differently as in ‘missing the forest’. It’s not because we’re blind, it’s just we’re looking as something else.

    This reminds me of the Mentos commercials. I used to hate them. And once I spoke to a friend who really liked them, he was also always carrying them. I never bought them because I hated the commercials. So we struck up a conversation and I realize different people have different tastes in humor. He liked that sort of humor and appealed to him. Whereas, I didn’t, hence never bought the product.

    I still don’t buy Mentos and not like the commercials but I look at them in a different light now.

  24. says

    After reading most if not all of the comments, I see that the daughter was waiting expectantly to be impressed by her dad, is that the moral of the story, promising something and then
    getting people all worked up by their own

    Confused but hopeful. I THINK I get it…..


    PS – Brian help me out.

  25. says

    Excellent post, Brian.

    Words such as “tension” and “suspense” are often used to describe writing like this post but it’s really nice to see a blog post illustrate the technique so nicely.

    I see the technique used a lot in news items, but I have to admit, it often gets me skipping paragraphs, only reading the first few words to check if the para will enlighten. I wonder if the method does anything for comprehension?

  26. Roshawn says

    Another great one, Brian. I admit, I didn’t get it at first. Reading the comments helped me figure it out.

    Even the Son of God was aware of the power of storytelling as He used the technique often. How sad that ministers ignore it and wonder why people don’t get the sermons they preach. :-(

    Well done, my friend. Keep it up. :-)

  27. says

    Unbelievable. I guess it is the first time I read more than 50 comments. I was amazed by this technique. As a design – background blogger never paid too much attention to copy.

    I guess I’ll do that from now on.

  28. says

    Great post, Illustrated the use of a story in selling. For me the story was a good one. Different marketers need to use different stories to meet their ends.

  29. says

    This is a good post that really works the brain. The subtle expression got me though, because I didn’t get it until I read the comments. If I understood right the most powerful blogging technique is story telling and the love you have and show for your customer.

  30. says

    Excellent article; in user-centered design, we use ‘scenarios’ to describe how a new software product will make Joe Bloggs’s life wonderfully easy and fun. They’re a great way of getting stakeholder buy in at the highest level, providing they’re not set in a galaxy far far away.

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