You first hear about storytelling for copywriting, you might be tempted to object: “My story is just too dull. There’s no way I can hold anyone’s interest. Taxes? Financial planning? Personal finance? Writing your will? Are you kidding me?”
“I didn’t know a parking lot could be so interesting…”
Let’s take parking lots, for example. What could be more boring? You’ve got concrete floors and not much else.
But the WSJ published an article about parking lots several years ago. They began with the story of Dave, who earned the right to park his midnight-blue Porsche 911 right next to the entrance. He is Number One in sales.
Readers connected with word pictures: Dave, Porsche, blue, sales — even the model number of Dave’s Porsche.
Your Secret Weapon Against Dull Content: The Backstory
Readers of this feature will often be familiar with what it takes to get ahead in sales: long nights, difficult conversations, fickle clients, and tons of rejections. They’ll understand (and maybe wince at) the games big companies play.
So just a few words will give them a sense of Dave’s back story.
The Porsche adds an important detail. People who own Porsches have a special relationship with their cars. A personal trainer at my gym owned a motorcycle and a lovingly restored Porsche. They were parts of his identity.
It’s tempting to create content from 30,000 feet instead of getting into the trenches. That’s when we look at the parking lots instead of the blue Porsches and conclude, “No story here!”
Behind every client is a backstory waiting to be told.
When writing your copy, you’ll make faster progress when you begin with the client’s backstory. Begin by asking, “What is the story behind this client’s arrival on my appointment calendar?”
The easiest way to identify backstories is to notice what people say when they call you for a first appointment. Generally, they begin with a catalog of symptoms. They want relief from pain, not a long-term analysis of the underlying problem.
You can also notice questions that appear in forums and in the Q&A of other professionals who offer similar services. And you can read book reviews to see what readers define as missing: “I wish they’d talked more about how you need a mindset shift to start a business.”
Let’s say you’re a money coach who specializes in women who are recently divorced and feeling alone. You listen to their backstories and create pull questions like these:
“Are you ready to take charge of your finances (so you save for luxury vacations and maybe a new home)?”
“Do you feel overwhelmed when you organize your financial information to pay taxes?”
“Have you lost money on investment tips from friends and people who look like they know what they’re doing?”
We talked about finding your backstory on the recent webinar,
How To Use Your Stories To Write Stronger Bullets (The Most Important Copywriting Skill)
Click here to learn more and register.
We’ll delve into this topic at a much deeper level in the upcoming course, Use Stories For Copywriting (Even If You Hate To Write). Learn more and sign up here (the advance beta price is in effect through Friday).