To change how people feel, just tell them a story.

Speedmaster watch story
Ed White, during America’s first space walk.

If you’ve been involved in marketing for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably figured out that people buy things based on their emotions.

People don’t line up on the sidewalk all night to buy the latest iPhone for any rational reason.

It’s not like their existing iPhone is about to stop working.

They line up for the new phone not because they need it, but because they want it.

Their purchase decision is driven by emotion.

And it turns out that one of the best and fastest ways to trigger emotions is through stories.

You know this already, of course.

Every time you watch a movie you’re taken on an emotional roller-coaster. Movies are stories, and stories move us.

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Selling is giving way to storytelling. Are you ready?

Selling with stories on a typewriterI have seen a lot of changes over the course of my career as a copywriter.

Back in 1979, when I got started, I wrote my copy on lined paper, with a pen. Then a secretary typed it up using one of those trendy new IBM “golf ball” typewriters.

By 1985 I was working on an Apple Macintosh computer, saving my files to those huge floppy discs.

Fast forward to 1995, when I wrote and published my first website. I fell in love with writing for the web from day one.

Over those first 15 or so years of my career, my job was the same. My job was to sell with words. I was a copywriter, plain and simple. I wrote sales copy.

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The copywriter’s cure for being slapped around the head.

the elephant and hat storyLet’s open with a story.

Way back in the mists of time I had a boss and copywriting mentor called Dave.

I was a total newbie when it came to writing hard-selling, direct response copy for our clients. I was a decent enough copywriter, but had yet to develop the edge that would make me a worthwhile direct response copywriter.

Enter Dave.

He’d look over my shoulder as I was writing, and whenever he came across a line of copy he thought wasn’t as strong as it should be, he’d give me a slap around the back of the head.

Yes, this was back in the days when you could get away with that sort of thing.

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Help me choose the topic of my next course…

Survey behind the barn doorI have a question for you… if I may.

And a very short, two-click questionnaire.

I’m trying to figure out a topic for my next course, and would really appreciate your help and input.

As you may know, a couple of months ago I launched a short course on Web Content Optimization.

This is a short-form course, delivered on the Udemy platform, and takes about 3 hours to complete.

Right now I’m working on getting a second course published, also on Udemy.

This second course is about Selling with Stories. (You’ll love this one if you’re an online writer who doesn’t feel terribly comfortable with the direct, hard-selling aspect of copywriting.)

Selling with Stories should be available within 3 or 4 weeks. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

And that brings me to my question…

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Impress your clients – and earn more – with this simple Content Optimization Framework.

content marketing frameworkThere is a huge demand for quality web content.

The trouble is – for us writers – many, or maybe most companies have a nasty habit of low-balling us on price. They want great content, but don’t want to pay much for it.

When we tell them the content we write is worth more than they are offering, they may point us to sites like, where they can find content writers for peanuts.

How can you break free from that kind of comparison?

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Successful people don’t dabble.

don't dabble, be an expertGenerally, I’m not a big fan of dissecting what “successful people” do.

The promise implicit in “doing what they do” is that you’ll become successful too.

I think the road to success, however you choose to define it, is more complicated than that. A path taken by one person may not be the right path for you.

So let me qualify my headline by saying, “When I find myself dabbling, it’s a sure sign I’ve wandered off my own path to success.”

In other words, this is what’s true for me. It may or may not be true for you. (But I suspect it might be.)

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