What’s Your Story?

image of woman checking her watch

In my last post, I used a story to illustrate that storytelling (which is the most powerful copywriting technique) is also perfectly suited for highly effective blogging.

The story wasn’t straightforward. It instead provided clues to the answer in the links, the ending, and by using the technique itself to provide the clues.

Some people loved it.

Some people didn’t get it.

To the extent some people didn’t get it, it’s my fault. Or more appropriately, it’s because I didn’t tell a story that would connect with everyone.

From a copywriting standpoint, some might say that this story failed, because by its nature it didn’t spell things out clearly. Others might say that because it provoked a passionate response in those who did get it, the story was the type of copy you should always try to write.

As long as, of course, you tell the right story for the people you want to sell to.

In my case, I wasn’t selling anything, other than a point.

It’s long been the case that watered-down copy that tries to appeal to everybody ends up appealing to nobody. The same is true for stories. And since stories make for the best copy, a compelling story in many cases will simply miss the mark with lots of people — and that’s OK.

In a Long Tail world, it’s never been more crucial to understand this.

From a blogging standpoint, I feel that the post was a success. People responded to it, and that’s what every blogger should be hoping for.

The people who got it were enthusiastic.

The people who didn’t get it truly wanted to know the answer.

Heck, even Seth Godin stopped by for the first time.

So here’s the point of that last post, in clear and unambiguous language.

Want to have a blog that does nothing but link to others?

Fine.

Want to have a blog that contains uninspiring filler content to “improve the SEO” of your main website?

Good luck.

Want to have a blog that engages your readers on an emotional level, scores no-cost links and traffic, and takes your business to an entirely new level?

Tell great stories.

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Comments

  1. What about me? I think it was the first time I’ve commented here too! and… who’s Seth? :P

  2. Sorry Sergio, I ended up short on space.

    My editor is ruthless. :)

  3. Excellent post (and story). I think you may have found the ‘missing link’ that corporate blogs (clogs, as I refer to them = http://www.douglaskarr.com/?p=103) require.

    Telling an honest, relevant, and timely story can be an engaging conversation that companies can work towards. It’s somewhere in between the personalized entries of blogging that can be too honest or may put off people, and the corporate-censored PR that other companies push through their ‘so-called’ blog.

    Thanks! Great blog!
    Doug

  4. Hey Doug ( & Brian ) –

    I do a few corporate blogs that aren’t the typical kind.

    When I visit their people, I tell a story.

    Here’s the last phrase I use – and if they ‘get’ it, we can work a deal, if they don’t, we can’t –

    ” Numbers tell and stories sell. ”

    I certainly didn’t say it first, but I use it every(freakin’)day.

    I’m fortunate enough to only work with whom I choose, so if they won’t let me spin stories throughout the message they want spread, I do not have to take the gig.

    Thanks for the ‘clogs’ term – I’ll give you credit for a couple of weeks and then steal it !

  5. Brian,
    Fortunately, I was one of the people who did get the story. And after I read it there was a feeling of ahhhh — completeness — as I drift into the mode of realization.

    Speak about niche marketing, it seems like copywriters nowadays need to specialize it in because advertisers use technology that hones down to the zip code of users/visitors.

    And at the risk of sounding like a teenage (though I’m not that much older) fan, can I just say that this blog is so cool !!! That I’m already looking through the same stuff as marketing gurus! (I’ve only been copywriting full time for like two weeks.) I guess I’m not that much off track after all.

  6. I’m still trying to figure out who this Seth guy is and why he’s so important to the story here.

  7. Personal milestone, David.

    Sometimes you’ve just got to say, “Hey, it’s my blog and I’ll name drop if I want to.” :)

  8. Ok, maybe this would help…
    “SETH GODIN is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change.” sethgodin.com

    Or look up wiki…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seth_Godin

    He’s one of the pioneers of online marketing. “Permission Marketing” by Godin, is one of the books that revolutionized they way people market. It’s largely because of the boom of the Internet advertising and the decline of TV (though some might disagree).

    The basic logic to this is simple. If you opted in for a newsletter from say copyblogger.com then Brian Clark has your permission to market to you. If you didn’t and some xyz.com sent you mail, then they didn’t have permission and now it’s known as spam. Hope that helped.
    Yu

  9. I was Unfortunately one of the people who “got it.”

    Now the simple task of writing posts has become a journey in self evaluation and – even worse – thinking.

    Damn you for raising the bar!

  10. Heh, Quad… your whole blog is one big great story.

    And the cool thing is, one can never quite be sure if any one part of that story is fiction or not. :)

  11. Yu, I was kidding. I know who is Seth. I am one of his few (Yu, it’s kidding) readers.

  12. Originally, I just wanted to add a short comment about the downsides of this interesting technique. Well… it became a bit longer, so I made an article of it:

    The Risks of Storytelling as a Blogging Technique

    Hope you don’t mind… :)

  13. I wish I had $2000. Every time I come to your site, I wish I had $2000. Damn you! Damn you to HELL! (I love your layout). Every lick of it.

    That’s out of the way.

    Brian, I wanted to thank you, because my main site, chrisbrogan.com , has been a little all over the map lately. I’m using it for lots of things. But I really saw in your post a reminder of what matters most to my use of the site (and all my new media ventures, for that matter).

    Stories. Stories are communication with a little more thought and consideration.

    Stories make you consider things, share views, show history from your eyes and ears and heart.

    This is great.

  14. Quad, sorry you had to think. But doesn’t it make it more interesting. (Why am I repeating ‘its’?)

    Sergio, I think you just hyped up Seth’s name more ‘cos you’re a fan. Talk about story telling, and viral…

  15. For a great insight into the power of storytelling, see Raymond Queneau’s classic book ‘Exercises in Style’. It’s the same story told in 99 different ways. Genius.

  16. the first comment here says:

    “who’s seth”.. i like that, but better is, seth who?

    sigh…i think all bloggers have something in common with paris hilton

  17. Interesting comments.. :D