One of the key components of any marketing exercise or strategy is copywriting. There are lots of self-proclaimed experts out there in the field of copywriting. I myself included, I suppose. They’ll all tell you pretty much the same thing. You need to master storytelling for entrepreneurs if you want to succeed.
They will tell you that you need to tell stories if you want to engage your customer, to take your customer on a journey to get them in the right state of mind, to actually buy from you.
And that is absolutely correct. You do need to tell stories in your marketing and sales copy, but there’s a little more to it than that. The stories that they’re talking about aren’t your traditional once upon a time, something happened, then something else happened. Then we overcame something. The end.
They are stories that put your reader, your potential customer, in a position of being the hero of that story. You weave your customer into that story. This sounds like it could be complicated, especially when I said only moments ago that it’s more complicated than that. But, it is actually is not complicated at all.
There are three main components that any storytelling marketer or entrepreneur needs to understand
You have a story arc, a plot, something has to happen. That is essential.
You have some sort of conflict, something to overcome, some sort of hurdle, an opposition, or an opponent.
You also have to have believable characters. Characters that have depth and feel real.
As I just mentioned, the character in this story is going to be the person reading your marketing copy. So you might think that means that you get to leave out that last one because they are the character. How could they not be believable? How could they not have depth?
The hero of your story – the main character
Well, on that front, you need to show that you understand, you know about them and their life, you understand the complexities of their character. This is made much easier if you already have an ideal customer profile. If you haven’t, I also wrote a fantastic post about that here https://mybizacademy.co.uk/ideal-customer-profile-understanding-and-implementing
In that post, I talk about the two different types of data, demographics and psychographics.
Storytelling for entrepreneurs – The demographics
You can include elements of the demographics in your story to show that character, the potential customer, that you’re talking about them. The tangible and physical elements of that person’s life that you call upon in your story will make them stop and recognise themselves in the story. The demographics show that you are talking about them.
Storytelling for entrepreneurs – The psychographics
But then you use the psychographic information. Their wants, their needs, their struggles, and so on to show that you understand them and who they are as an individual.
The psychographic elements that you weave into your story go beyond showing your hero that you are talking about them. They move into the realms of talking to them. You speak to them in their heart as well as their mind.
That’s how you make your character believable in your story. That’s how you show that you understand your character, your hero.
Storytelling for entrepreneurs – The story arc
That really is simple. Where are they now? Where will they be when you have provided them with a solution? That’s your story.
There’s a journey that they go on to get from point A to point B. That is the story arc.
What happens to them between acquiring your solution and implementing it? How has their problem been solved? How do they feel now vs then?
Storytelling for entrepreneurs – The conflict
The conflict in your story could easily be described as the obstacle that the character faces. The obstacle, the villain of the story, is whatever problem that your solution is there to solve. Except it’s not.
It’s not the problem itself that is the villain, the chief motivator, the cause and definition of the conflict. The real villain in this tale is how that problem makes the character feel. That emotional element is the very thing that makes that problem something the character wants to solve.
That is how you tell stories in your marketing
It is not that hard, as I’m sure you can tell. However, it does require a little bit of practice to make it come off naturally, otherwise, it can feel quite forced. And, it doesn’t have the same effect. So practice.
Case studies to create your stories
If you really struggle to generate stories then use real-world examples, a case study. Find someone that’s already purchased your solution. Talk to them, find out where they were before, and where they are now.
Find out where their point A was and where their point B is. Identify the transition, what happened in between point A and point B. What steps did they perform on their journey, what did their emotional journey look like?
Get to know them as an individual, their wants, their needs, their highs and their lows.
Case studies are a fantastic tool for marketers. They take the concept of storytelling but make it write itself. The ease comes as a result of having a pre-made story, a story written and lived by a customer. Case studies are really fantastic and powerful, and they’re really easy to put together.
Storytelling for entrepreneurs – How to acquire your case studies for your marketing stories
Ask your customers if they are willing to be interviewed. You don’t want just a testimonial from them. You need to do a bit of a deeper dive and go on that journey with them.
That might sound like it’s hard, after all, interviewing people is a skill. But it really easy, just talk to them. You’re not hosting a Saturday night talk show. Have a conversation, just regular conversation like you’re talking to a friend, and these things will come out naturally.
Then you will have your case studies, which in turn means you then have your story for your marketing and for your sales pages.
Don’t overwhelm your audience
It can be easy, too easy, to overwhelm your audience with every minute detail. There is no need and it becomes counterproductive. Have you ever read a fictional story and been bored to tears by the detail of the descriptions?
We all get told by our English teachers at school to be descriptive when we write. When used appropriately they raise a good point, however, when you go overboard with your descriptions it becomes a mess. A mess of boring, unnecessary descriptive language.
When you tell your stories make sure that you only include details that are relevant and essential to the story. Details that, if left out, would adversely affect the story and its delivery. Only say what you need to say to tell your story. Anything outside of that becomes superfluous and boring. Don’t be boring.
If you are not sure what is essential and what isn’t, leave the descriptions out and see how it impacts the story. If the story doesn’t make sense without it, put it in. If the story progresses fine without it, leave it out.
A simple but effective test that will ensure you only include the details that need to be there.
The Moth is a live, in-person storytelling event. Well, a collection of events would be more accurate. The most famous of these events would be, in my mind at least, StorySLAM.
These events are set up so that people can step on stage and share their stories. These are real-world stories plucked out of the lives of the storytellers. These events are fascinating and have a great deal to teach about how to tell a story.
The people that are most successful at these events stick to the principles outlined above, and they do so beautifully.
You don’t have to get on a plane to New York to witness them though, you can head to https://themoth.org/ where they share some of the more popular stories and storytellers. It is an invaluable resource for any marketer.
Go and listen to a few of those stories and think about how you can apply the principles I’ve written about to your own stories so you can sell more of your products or services.