Want To Make More Money? Tell Better Stories

From: Ameen Kamadia

I have a major case of déjà vu. Maybe it's because I've been a marketer for over a decade.. The latest generation of online and offline "success entrepreneurs"-those folks who claim you can be as successful as they are if you listen to them (and pay them money)-has started talking about a technique that the gray hairs among us knew about ages ago. In fact, people have known about and used this technique since the concept of "selling" first appeared.

It is the technique of telling stories.

The only reason why this seems like such a new and novel idea to the newer loan officers among us is that business writing style seems to follow a cyclical pattern. The most recent style has been filled with buzz words, one liners, and exclamation points. There has also been a lot of "you" stuff, as in "We know you were up late last night worrying about [fill in the "pain point"]..." So it's no wonder that the idea of telling stories to convey the value of a product or service seems so new and different. But anyone who has been in the business of sales and/or marketing for more than a generation will tell you that storytelling has been around for a long time and will continue to stay around.

One reason why the idea of story telling in marketing seems new might be the Mctimes we live in. Food isn't the only thing that's fast these days. We get our news in snippets on a rolling marquee, we send emails and text messages that contain the fewest words and letters possible, and we go for anything that will get us what we want as quickly as possible-steel abs, a million dollar income, a date. Somewhere in there, the understanding of the power of the story got lost.

Stories work. They always have and they always will. Whether you are trying to teach someone something or sell someone something, stories will get the point made better than any other form of communication at your disposal. They form a connection to you in a very basic way. Stories hook your readers or listeners at an emotional level, give them elements that they can identify and empathize with.

And good stories work best. Good stories have characteristics in common. They follow certain rules-what I call "technology." The technology of good stories is the basic technology of good fiction. The plot consists of a series of increasingly intense conflicts leading to a climax, followed by the resolution. The plot must be believable and interesting, and must advance as the story unfolds.

Your protagonist-the hero of the piece-must face challenges that are overcome to attain victory. Along the way, he or she goes through a range of change, so that they are not the same person at the end of the story as they were at the beginning. And there is a point or message to the story.

The truth is that any story that interests you will have these elements in some form. Even the shortest story-based ad copy will have these elements, if only in an implied form-the most obvious being the ones about weight loss or body building.

So, here's the bottom line: To use good stories in your sales and marketing, you need to have good storytelling-that is, good story writing-talent. If you don't have good story writing talent yourself, you need to hire it.

But here's the rub: Not all copy writers are good story tellers. I highly recommend that you include "good story telling skills" on your list of criteria no matter what kind of copy you seek. Even if you are a technical company looking for someone to write your brochure copy, I promise you that a copy writer who has mastered the technology of good story telling will give you much more compelling material than one who has not. And such a copy writer will be able to provide a much wider range of material for your marketing and sales initiatives-anything from pay-per-click ads to multi-page white papers and ebooks. Why? Because a writer who understands the technology of fiction writing and applies it to business copy will be far more inventive, less likely to use tired, stale words and phrases, and more likely to compose passages that speak to the readers-that is, to your market.

Everything old is new again, at least when it comes to telling stories as a marketing strategy. If you're not already incorporating stories in your copy, I highly recommend you do so. You will see better results right away!

Take my own marketing for example. Most of our salesletters are very long. But since they work we keep them around. The best ones though, tell stories. Personal stories seem to work best in our market. When you write a letter for a direct mail campaign add a story about yourself. If no story fits, write a story about a past client. This will get your piece a higher readership, retention rate, and conversion rate.

People love stories. If you can weave your sales piece in story form you are well on your way to early retirement.

Happy Originating!


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