Do you know the most powerful tool a writer has in his or her arsenal?
Telling a story.
I’m not talking about a fairy tale that starts with “Once upon a time” and ends with “happily ever after.” I’m talking about the kind of story that immediately makes your readers interested in what you have to say, and how it affects them.
The best stories start with a character having a problem.
His wife leaves. A hurricane destroys his house. The aliens invade. On top of that, he just got fired from his job just as his parents are due to come visit, and he’s coming down with a cold. And it’s only Monday. You’re immediately drawn in–HOW is he going to manage?
Or, maybe you prefer non-fiction, and you’re wondering how the doctors will cure the plague, how Louisiana is going to handle massive flooding, or how Abraham Lincoln is going to convince his biggest rivals to help him hold the Union together. It doesn’t matter, which. The point is, you’re going to care.
The gripping stories pull you in right away by making you curious, and making you care about the outcome.
They add some kind of human interest–you’re not just reading about statistics, you’re reading about how the hurricane of the century affected ONE person, or how a global crisis affected one small town. It’s immediate. It’s visceral.
You don’t start with, “Once upon a time, there was unemployment of over 10% and the Great Depression was spread across the globe.” No, you start with “Once upon a time, when every tenth person couldn’t find work, one man was determined to create jobs for every one, no matter what the cost. This is his story.” Focusing on something or someone specific immediately makes your reader want to know what happens next.
This is a powerful, immediate tool. And you should be using it in your copywriting … right this minute. Case Studies are built on this. So is some of the best Copywriting.
Think about it. What’s the best way to get somebody’s attention? You start off with a person, just like them, who woke up one day with a problem, or an idea, something to change the world … and then you tell what they did about it.
Tell a story.
You’ll be glad you did.
(Now, the next question? Ponder this: Would this entire post have been more powerful, more helpful if I had written it as a story? If I had framed it by telling you how this technique has helped me gain clients, or write better copy, making me more successful? Of course it would! Because here’s the other, big secret … Lectures are boring. Stories are fun. Discuss!)