Story Telling 101; Are YOU doing it right?
by Dave Cottrell
Story Telling 101; How to tell your story so your audience will listen. They, whoever they are, ought to have a class on this subject for everyone starting online. It could be included in Internet Marketing 101 or something very similar!
I went to my mailbox, yesterday, and in there, along with all the other junk mail, bills, reminders, etc., was a small, robin’s egg blue envelope.
The first thing I noticed when I turned it over was the way it was addressed. The address was correct, except that it had redundant information on it that hasn’t been used here for a very long time.
Somewhat intrigued, I looked at the return address and the name of the sender, only to find the mystery increasing. It was not from someone whose name I recognized.
I had to go to pick up my daughter-in-law and grandchildren who were waiting outside the local clinic where they can gone to have my youngest grandson’s cast checked (he’s a little tank who thinks he’s indestructible) and the weather was not conducive to waiting long. I had only stopped briefly en route to pick up the mail, so had to set the rather thick little envelope aside until later.
Inside was a short, personal note to me, typed in “typewriter” font on a notepad-sized sheet of paper, and signed in ink by the sender.
The note was only one paragraph, and was a challenge to me to read a little story, in a very small, attractive, paperback booklet that was included with the note.
There is a very important point to make at this part of the story: This might have been thrown away by most people, but it was laser targeted to me. After all, of course it was advertising! What else would it be, considering that it came from a complete stranger?
But it didn’t end there.
Inside that little book was a story. But the story, itself, had a little introductory “teaser’ of its own.
Here’s what I read: “How seven sick salmon, unconventional wisdom, serendipity and a beer brewery saved an economy, healed the hopeless, and changed the course of modern Immunology.”
Does that sound interesting, or what? The word, “serendipity,” while fitting somewhat if you stretched it a bit to the story, was perfect for the sound and “feel” of that little introduction.
The story, itself, is very interesting. It tells of a problem so serious it threatened an entire industry and the economy of a modern nation! It goes on to explain how conventional wisdom failed miserably and catastrophically, and how finally, an expert was hired who had an unconventional idea that worked.
From there, the story expands into how the solution was financed, how the financiers and the expert developed a co-operation together that expanded into a large and very successful business, and how the final product jumped boundaries from the original problem-solution challenges to solving problems of human immunology. The story telling in this little book is fascinating and kept my attention, right through the few short product pages at the very end.
You see, this book was a terrific example for “Story Telling 101.” It got my attention right from the beginning, spun a very good yarn that kept me interested, and nailed it right after the main story with enough information on the product being sold to get me to their website.
This is what successful advertising is all about. It is story telling at its best.
First of all, it was targeted. I don’t know where the person who sent it to me got my address, because while accurate enough to get the package to me, it is a very old format that hasn’t been used for about twenty years. However, this person must know enough about me to spend the time and money to send me something that was very targeted to my particular needs.
I have Lyme disease, and have since the end of 2007. It was not diagnosed early, which is not a good thing. When diagnosed early, while still in the acute stage – that is, still in the blood only – it is very simple to cure with a short run of antibiotics.
However, the longer it is left untreated, the more it goes into surrounding tissues and organs, forms cysts, globules, no-cell-wall structures, and biofilms, making it extremely difficult to treat, and leaving the very real possibility for life of it returning, even after all symptoms disappear.
The ONLY treatment proven to work, no matter how many well-meaning folks tell me differently, and no matter how many alternative health practitioners who haven’t done their homework also tell me differently, is with heavy doses of multiple differnct antibiotics over a long period of time.
The problem with this is that the antibiotics, themselves, begin to take a toll, and ALSO harm the immune system, along with the organisms they are supposed to destroy. It is therefore necessary, at the same time as taking the antibiotics, to support the immune system and help it to be strengthened. That is no simple challenge, and there is no magic bullet, despite what so many friends (and ambulance chasers) have told me of their own products.
With that said, I will go back to MY story telling 101! It is a certainty that this doctor who sent me this information has found out about my case. Perhaps he has been to my website, which I set up to help others like me. Perhaps he has seen posts on Facebook or other venues. But the bottom line is, he has picked a very powerfully targeted individual for his story telling.
Let me ask you a question. How often have you found yourself talking about something that is terrifically interesting to you, only to notice that at least one person in your group is showing signs of extreme boredom and a strong desire to be somewhere else?
No matter how good your story telling, it is NOT going to be of interest to everyone. The very first thing you need to make sure of in your online story telling for your business is that you’re story telling has got an audience that is interested! You could be telling your story to thousands and thousands of the wrong people!
Next, when you are certain of your audience, you need to get their attention. That means you need to appeal to their emotions and nail them with an emotion loaded statement that promises to make their life better.
I will share contents of the note I received from the good doctor: “Dear Dave, No matter what your health condition, even if you’ve given up all hope, read this little book. It will change your life! Sincerely…”
I’ve been fighting this battle for quite a while, and am certain that I’ve done a LOT more research than most, including most doctors on this particular topic. In other words, I am skeptical about ANYTHING that even MIGHT be helpful.
However, the compelling words of this little introduction were enough to get me to open the book. Read the above statement the doctor made to me again, and just think about it. It is LOADED with emotion. It’s telling me it doesn’t matter what has come before, it doesn’t matter how skeptical I am, even if I’ve given up hope, if I do this, it if going to fix my life! That is powerful! That is a very well-crafted call to action!
Then give your readers a short, punchy overview of what they will find in the story, appealing to their curiosity. Use words like “how, why, when, what,where” and phrases like “ten ways,” etc. These either ask a question that demands and answer or promise something you might not find anywhere else. They propel you prospect from simply a name on a page to someone who is actively involved in the story you’re telling, because they now have a strong desire to have their curiosity satisfied.
Tell your story. Tell it like you would tell any story. Don’t start with the ending (the product or service), but tell the story. Every story has a beginning, a climax and a conclusion. In good story telling, you want to hit hard with your opening, driving up the curiosity if you possibly can. Take the time to work on your first few paragraphs, because this is where you are going to set the tone and drive up the curiosity and interest that will take your reader through to the climax, finish, and finally, your product page.
Keep your story interesting! There’s nothing worse when you are hanging out with friends, starting into story telling that has their rapt attention, only to notice them yawning and looking away before you get anywhere near the end. Keep on track. Don’t go rabbit tripping all over the place. Fortunately, in printed media, you can proofread and remove details that are not on target or don’t help the story. (Most of us could probably use this in verbal communication if it were possible!)
Before you get to your product page, give some anecdotes about other people who have used your product or service with great results. If you can do it, keep your story telling going in this area with emotion laden stories of how people have had their problems solved and their lives changed for the better WITHOUT revealing the name of your product. If you use this strategy in your story telling, it heightens the excitement and emotional pull for your product when you finally do reveal it.
Finally, do reveal your product. Name it and immediately provide an easy, clear, and convenient way for your reader to make the purchase. This should be a short as possible. Your story telling has already accomplished its purpose of getting your prospect on the sales page, and hopefully, buying something. Make their purchase fast, secure, and pleasant. You’ve done your job!