Tap into the power of a shared, common experience.

Hiking is often a shared experience

If, like me, you write a blog, you’ve probably promised yourself you’ll post at least once a week.

Or maybe twice a week. Daily even.

There are plenty of good reasons for posting to your blog, whether you run a business or work as a freelancer.

Writing a blog makes sure your voice is heard. Writing posts regularly helps get your message out there, and keeps your name on people’s lips. (Google likes to see you posting regularly too.)

Is it always easy to come up with new post ideas? No, it isn’t.

In my case, sometimes l’ll have a lineup of ideas for posts, all clamoring for attention. But other times the well runs a little dry, and I have to cast around for inspiration.

I’m guessing it’s not so very different for you.

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Use inspirational content to drive engagement and sales.

Mountain bike inspiration

With some product and service categories, we automatically expect marketers to inspire us.

For example, if we are being sold a weight-loss program, we expect to hear inspirational stories about those who have come before us.

We expect to see before and after photos, and to hear about how people’s lives are improved as they shed those extra pounds.

Weight-loss and wellness coaches help us succeed by inspiring us with positive messages and stories.

It’s what we expect.

But we can also create inspirational content for slightly less obvious categories.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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