It doesn’t have to be a big, dramatic story.
It can be something simple.
Like how my wife cried when she walked to the local corner store to buy chips, but realized she didn’t have a mask with her. So she couldn’t go in.
Her tears weren’t about the chips.
We know that.
Her tears were about the relentless grind of living through a pandemic, where something as simple as buying chips is sometimes out of reach.
We know how she was feeling. We’ve all felt that.
And that’s the power of stories. Even small stories.
A story engages us quickly, and can bind us at a deep level through shared experiences and emotions.
That’s why so many newspaper articles open with a story.
For example, if you want to write an article about how hard the pandemic has been on single mothers, don’t kick off with quotes from a politician or a bunch of statistics.
Write about Sandra, who is working from home as a customer service rep for a cell phone company, and is trying to home school her kids at the same time.
Take a snapshot of part of her day as she struggles to keep everything in balance. Tell her story.
When you open with a story, you invite your readers to empathize.
And when they empathize, their emotions are quickly engaged, and they are more likely to keep reading.
That’s a lot more powerful than the latest blah blah from a politician.
And a lot more compelling than yet another chart.
But put in the work to tell a true story…
Direct marketers have known about the power of stories for a long time.
They definitely know about the power of emotion when it comes to engaging readers.
So many of them do exactly what I’m talking about here.
They open with a story.
The trouble is, more often than not, it isn’t a true story. It’s fiction.
There’s nothing wrong with a good fictional story.
Except for when it’s masquerading as a true story.
People are really good at sniffing out made-up stories. Humans have amazing “story radar”.
A story that isn’t true won’t have the emotional impact you’re looking for.
For example, I hope the story about my wife in tears outside the corner store felt true… because it is true. I asked her permission to use it in this post.
Telling stories can be a digital marketing superpower.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing sales copy or web content, stories can be your best friend.
In an email, on a landing page, as the opening to a blog post, or at the heart of a social media post… stories tap into the emotions of your readers.
And that’s where you want to be. You want to be in their hearts, before you appeal to their brains.
If you want to know more, I offer a full course on Selling With Stories.