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Latest Posts

But Nick, you didn’t teach me how to create stories that sell. Fail!

Two kids reading storiesI have paraphrased a little, but that’s pretty much what someone wrote after taking my course, Selling with Stories.

He felt a little disappointed because I hadn’t given him a structure or template he could use for creating stories as part of his direct sales promotions. My bad. Kind of.

My mistake, I think, was not in what I taught… but in how I failed to be 100 percent clear about what I’d be teaching.

When I created the course I did so based on a strong belief that the whole idea of “selling” online is changing, and changing fast.

The traditional hard-sell approach is on the way out.

A more sincere and story-based style of selling is on the way in.

There are two reasons for this.

Read more

How to differentiate your product with a compelling story.

the death wish coffee storyAs you may know, I have a bit of a thing for coffee.

I have way too much coffee making equipment, and have tried dozens of different coffees from all over the world.

And… given what I do for a living… I have become something of a student of the coffee business.

When it comes to marketing, coffee presents us with a few challenges.

First off, coffee is essentially a commodity. Literally, it is second only to oil in terms of its value as a traded commodity.

But from a marketer’s and a copywriter’s point of view, coffee is a commodity because… well… it’s just a green bean that is roasted until it’s brown.

It’s a brown bean.

Read more

When selling online, content does most of the heavy lifting.

Web content does the heavy lifting

Ask an online copywriter how to sell stuff online, and she’ll likely tell you it’s all about great sales copy.

Makes sense, right?

If you want to sell stuff, you need strong copy that sells hard and closes the sale.

Well, this may have been the case back in the days before the web.

But today I would argue, and do argue, that most of the heavy lifting is actually done by web content, not sales copy.

Why? In large part because consumers online are becoming increasingly resistant to sales messages. In particular, they dislike sales messages that interrupt them and get in the way of what they really want to do.

Read more

You can sell with stories. Unless you use fake stories.

Pages from storiesA couple of weeks ago I got an email from a copywriter who wanted my take on a piece of story-based copy he had written.

It was a sales email, and it opened with a story.

Technically, the email was pretty well written.

It opened with the story, transitioned into sharing information about one of his client’s services, and then pivoted to a call to action at the end.

Quite nicely put together.

Just one problem.

The story he opened with didn’t feel right. It just felt false. Creepy. Kind of manipulative.

So I asked him about it, thinking maybe he was fed it by his client’s PR department.

Nope. Not even. He just made it up.

Read more

To make more sales, stimulate the release of this drug.

oxytocin stimulates trust

You’re walking down a busy street and a homeless person approaches you.

Your emotions are conflicted. You’re in a hurry. You don’t need the delay. You know you’re about to be hustled.

And yet…

So you pause and listen to “the pitch”.

If the homeless person just asks for money, you’ll probably say no and not even make eye contact.

But if he or she begins to tell you a story… about being hungry, about their kids, about their sick dog, about their mom who has cancer… you’ll more than likely find yourself reaching for some money.

Yes, you know the story is probably 100% fiction. Yes, you’ve heard it all before.

But you still reach for your money.

How come?

Read more

A visit to your local market will teach you plenty about selling with stories.

Each week my wife and I go to Jean Talon Market here in Montreal. It is one of the city’s busiest markets, particularly over the summer months.

Last week I took my camera along, in search of how stall holders might be using stories to help market their produce.

It’s funny how the mind works. As soon as I looked around in search of “story”, suddenly I was surrounded by them.

You’ll get the full roundup in the video above.

But a couple of examples jumped out at me.

Read more