If you’ve ever heard a good story, or got caught up in a great movie, then you already know the power that stories have to enchant an audience.
One reason stories captivate us so much is because, as humans, for thousands of years it was the way we taught lessons and communicated ideas from one generation to the next.
So basically humans are hard-wired to tell, and listen to stories. And they’re an essential part of human communication.
Another reason stories work so well is they have the ability to create empathy with the characters. They can stir up our emotions and cause us to create a bond with the main characters and their situation.
As copywriters we can tap into this natural urge for stories and draw customers into our message, and into our brand.
In fact, stories can be one of the most powerful marketing tools we have, because when used properly stories can influence our emotions, behavior, and ultimately our buying decisions.
So the real question is… “How do we use stories to sell our products”?
Storytelling to engage consumers…
When you use stories in your marketing you not only capture people’s attention but they’re also more likely to remember you after they’ve left your website.
The strategy is to try to capture a person’s attention by crafting a story that engages them from the beginning, and makes them want to stick around long enough to see how it ends.
And the best approach is to tell a story that has some human elements, so your reader can relate to it on a personal level. Even if you use non-human characters (like animals, robots, or space aliens) they should still have human character traits if you want to create the biggest impact with your audience.
If you just tell a story about your product or your company, you run the risk of boring your audience because they won’t see any benefit to listening. And in marketing… Boring your audience is one of the worst things you can ever do.
You can, and should, include your product or service in the story, but don’t make your product the main character in the story.
Remember the childhood story of “The Tortoise And The Hare”?
Imagine the marketing impact if it was revealed that the turtle was wearing Nike shoes when he crossed the finish line first. This would be a fine example of what’s known as “Native” advertising.
Native advertising has been around for a long time, and when used correctly it can have a huge impact on your sales.
Let me give you one quick, real life example, of inserting a product into a story…
Back in the 1980’s the blockbuster movie ET came out. When the space alien first appears, a young boy named Elliot entices the alien into the house by leaving a trail of Reese’s Pieces candy for the alien to follow.
Long story short… After the movie came out, real life sales of Reese’s Pieces shot through the roof and sold millions of dollars worth.
Of course we can’t all be as clever as Steven Spielberg when it comes to telling stories. But we can certainly follow his example.
A good story can break down the resistance to buy because when someone is engaged with a good story they don’t feel like they’re being sold to. They’re simply following along with the main characters.
When people become engaged with your story, and begin to empathize with the storyline and its characters, many people will begin to think about how your product might become a part of their own lives.
Once this happens they’ll be very likely to at least consider buying your product right then and there.
Your story could be about someone’s experience with using your product… or about the people behind the discovery of the product… or it can even be a cute story about how you came up with the name for your product.
It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re engaging your audience into a deeper relationship with the characters (and your product).
One final thought on storytelling…
Online stories can involve all sorts of media. From written copy, to audio, to infographics and video. So if you have a good story to tell don’t be afraid to share it in a way that resonates with your audience in the best possible way (the way that they prefer).
And if you feel ambitious, share it in as many ways and on as many platforms as possible.
If you tell a good enough story that people want to share, it might go viral. And when that happens, your product, and your company goes viral with it.
Finally, just remember to always include a way to let people know where to find you and your product. You can scatter hints about it throughout the story. But at a minimum put a link to your website at the end of the story.
This way people can buy your product while the story is still fresh in their minds. Because the last thing you want is for people to desire what you’re selling, but not know where to find it.
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