An effective and compelling story is one of the most powerful devices in sales letter writing. There is seldom a successful direct marketing piece without one. I’ve seen this for my most successful sales copy and that of many other high-converting direct marketing pieces.

I’ll like to share with you 10 tips on using stories in your advertising copy. Use them and see your bottom line balloon.

1. A story can be used to identify with your target audience and make them feel understood and sympathetic to you and hence your product or service.For example, if you have been struggling with an obesity problem and found a solution, you can tell a story about your early struggles and your great discovery.

As your prospects read the story describing a familiar challenge they can say, “Yes, I understand what you are talking about. I know just how you FEEL.” Note that feeling or emotion is a very important element here.

2. A story is much easier to digest than just plain cold facts. One main characteristic of a good sales letter is its readability. No big or confusing words, just simple words so that even a child could understand it.

Except your target audience is high on the intellectual scale, then you should keep it simple. Even if you think your readers are very sophisticated readers you should still aim for simplicity. Just allow the simplicity of your vocabulary to be prominently eminent.

3. The story should be chosen so the reader will be called to identify with the hero of the story. An individual who overcame great odds or made the decision you want your prospects to make and realized the results your product or service is promising. In fact, customer testimonials are really small stories in this respect.

4. A story will be remembered much longer than any other form of teaching.Long after you may forget those facts you learned in school you can still recall the stories you learned in kindergarten. So you can make your sales message memorable by using stories.

5. A story should NEVER be boring. If there are no surprises, conflicts, obstacles, suspense, a plot and all the crucial elements which comprise a great story, then it’s best to leave it out.The last thing you want to do is bore your readers. The ongoing debate about how long a sales letter should be can always be summarized, I think, by saying that length is never a problem but being boring is.

6. Never include a story just for a story’s sake. This could detract from your sales message rather than enhance it. If the story doesn’t help to make your message clearer or simply tells a different message, then it’s best to leave it out as this will simply confuse your readers.

7. A great way to structure your sales letter is by starting with a story and then ending with some element of that same story. This takes your letter full circle and creates resolution in the reader’s mind. If you read TIME magazine, you’ll find that almost all of their main article writers use this technique.

8. Make the setting of the story as universally accessible as possible. In other words, write about common life situations. This includes school, family living, play, human aspirations to improve, music, love etc. You don’t want to demand a lot of imagination from your readers as in a science fiction. You want to keep it as real as possible.

9. All your stories don’t have to be original to you or unknown to the reader. You can indeed use a familiar story to make a point you know the reader will agree with. This includes popular stories found in the culture of your target audience. Even fairy tales will do well here.

For example, to show the importance of persistence over speed you may recall the story of the hare and the tortoise. In this way you’ll resonate with the ‘yes’ that’s already in the readers’ mind.

10. Use references from popular items in the headline news. This is one very effective technique because it not only gets attention but you are joining the conversation that is already in the reader’s mind.

Drawing metaphors from popular news items is one creative way to engage your readers. Any letter must be able to break into the present mindset of the readers to take them on the journey of your choosing. Using a popular news item makes this so much easier to accomplish.

Just study all the great teachers and philosophers in history and you’ll see that they were also great story tellers. Many of those stories have survived for thousands of years and haven’t lost their original effect on the reader or listener.

So can your sales message.


About the author: Ray Edwards

“Ray L. Edwards is a direct marketing sales copywriter, coach and online marketing consultant who enjoys helping small to mid-size businesses optimize their online marketing results. Over the past 12 years he has helped his clients make tens of millions of dollars through his copywriting and consultation services. He is the author of several books on the subject of online marketing, many promoted under the names of other marketers (ghost written) who have profited handsomely from his writing skills. He is available to a limited number of clients each year who want to expand their businesses or want to launch with an experienced copywriter and online marketing consultant.

This article was first published by Ray Edwards