“Grab a cushion and gather round. I have a story to tell.”

Everyone has fond memories of story time as kids. And the love of a good tale, of heroes, villains and victory against the odds, never dies.

For this reason, stories are marketing gold.

They swoop under people’s anti-sales radar to deliver a payload of emotion, aspiration and desire in one concisely worded hamper.

And you don’t need the creativity of Tolstoy or Hemingway to write them.

A story can be as simple as:

  • The challenge – what problem did the hero face?
  • The struggle – what did they have to overcome on their journey?
  • The resolution – what was the solution they found?
  • The result – what victory did they achieve?

To spice things up, consider using one of these plot devices:

1.Surprise – Tell a story that challenges your reader’s preconceptions. Tell them something that goes against the status quo. Tip over the sacred cows and reveal why they’ve been misled by the powers that be all along.

2. Create curiosity gaps – This works great for email. Reveal enough information to make the reader realize they are missing a vital piece of knowledge. Then explain how to get it by checking their inbox tomorrow, visiting your website or buying your info product.

3. Create mysteries or puzzles – People love a good mystery. It’s why detective novels are one of the most popular genres and people went nuts over The Da Vinci Code. You can harness the same appeal by slowly solving a mystery over the course of your communications.

4. Make it trustworthy – In this era of fake news, distrust of the MSM and marketers respected as highly as car salesmen, we start at -10 on the trustometer when someone reads our sales message. So consider how you can build trust through the language you use. Instead of ‘smash and grab’ tactics of exaggeration and unsupported claims, pepper your story with concrete figures, referenced stats and quotes to cement your story in reality.

5. Create a springboard – People love a good yarn about someone who struggled to overcome a problem before succeeding and moving onto bigger, brighter things. People can relate to ‘springboard stories’ much better than a fawning testimonial or back slapping self praise in a corporate brochure.

6. Replace stats with meaningful examples – Rather than tell people how much sugar they eat per week in processed food, fill a bag with the stuff and describe its size and the thud it makes when dropped on a table.

7. Tap into their identities – People respond better to stories in which they see themselves. An advertising company needed to convince people in Texas to stop throwing their litter from the car window. So they fed on people’s affection for their state’s identity by telling stories involving local sporting heroes with the slogan ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’. Littering plummeted as a result.

8. Inspire them to conquer a challenge – JFK’s pledge to land a man on the moon inspired a nation to embark on a decade of work and unforgettable success. Consider setting your reader a goal and a vision for the future, which they can only achieve with product.

The next time you’re tasked with writing a press release, email sequence or case study, consider turning it into a story. In a world awash with mediocre ‘BUY ME’ marketing, stories can hook people in at deeper level and more inclined to make the relationship monetary.

P.S. This post was inspired by ‘Made to Stick’ by Chip and Dan Heath