Remember curling up in a quiet corner – or better still in bed – in wrapt anticipation of story time?
When the magic and simplicity of a storyteller’s voice carried you away to faraway lands, made printed pictures real and unlocked entire new worlds?
Many of us have unfortunately outgrown the age of storytelling. But that doesn’t mean that the magic spell of storytelling doesn’t still hold you and everyone else, entranced.
The storytelling method of persuasive writing weaves disparate experiences into colourful and compelling stories that the reader (or listener) can embrace.
To do this is you need to become a keen observer and listener; search first for the context that surrounds the unique needs for your product, service, company or self. Once discovered, this context lays the foundation for an irresistible set of benefits that will reach your target audience with pinpoint precision.
What makes stories powerful and why are they so effective in persuasive writing?
Stories entertain us, help us understand things and teach us.
Stories help us learn important concepts and principles, because they are put in a context that we can understand.
In the words of the famous David Ogilvy, from The Art of Writing Advertising:
“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think.”
Nothing else draws a reader like an engaging story. Imagine this … your laser-focused marketing message packing the added value of story; with its hypnotic rhythm, sound and imagery, and the twists and turns that never fail to surprise and delight. No matter the source and reader, whether it is kingly castles or dishwashing detergent – you know that story has staying power.
Stories typically follow certain patterns.
With a simple flow of information, details and format they help us understand the people, things or events featured. This predictable format forms an intrinsic part of the soothing, comfortable ease with which people identify with stories. Greek philosopher Aristotle is attributed with defined the original three-act story structure that forms the framework for most stories:
- Set-up: the characters are introduced, and the setting outlined.
- Complication: the characters encounter some sort of challenge.
- Resolution: the characters are successful in overcoming or solving the problem or they succumb to it.
Write stories that people understand and act upon.
In a marketing context, you must engage your audience on multiple levels, but still be clear, concise and compelling.
Bring your benefits to life with a story, because people believe stories, not a list of facts. Try this four step formula:
- The Protagonist (Hero) – the customer
- A Predicament – the problem or challenge the customer is facing
- A Narrative – what we do, why and how
- A Climax or Resolution – how things turned out and how we solved their predicament
Take this simple formula as a framework and weave through it the benefits of your product or service. Make sure you cover everything. Resolve the readers’ problems or challenges and tell the story.
Who’s the storyteller?
Founders can often take a fabulous role as chief storyteller, retelling their journey along their way, with people joining in as they go. The other benefit of founders telling the story is they can tell it in the first person, helping the reader identify and share the vision, beliefs and values embodied by the founder.
Remember though, whatever the message and whoever the teller is, a storytelling voice will always make it sing more strongly.